Family reunification

Family members of persons with a permit to stay in Switzerland may have the right to join them in Switzerland under certain circumstances.

Family reunification for nationals of EU/EFTA states

Regardless of nationality, family members entitled to join include:

  • The spouse and relatives in descending order that are not yet 21 years old or for whose care the person is responsible (children and step-children).
  • Relatives and relatives of the spouse in ascending order for whose care the person is responsible (parents, parents-in-law and grandparents)
  • In the case of students, the spouse and children entitled to care.
  • Other family members for whose care the person is responsible

Identical permit type

Family members receive the same type of permit as the person from whom the right to family reunification originates.


Example:

A German national with a permit for resident foreign nationals, B EU/EFTA, wants to bring his wife and children from Germany to Switzerland. As they are family members, they will also be given a permit for resident foreign nationals, B EU/EFTA.

Exception:

For persons that already have a C-type permit for settled foreign nationals, joining family members will only receive a permit for resident foreign nationals, B EU/EFTA. Joining children under the age of 12 will, however, receive a permit for settled foreign nationals.

Family reunification for third-state nationals

The ability to bring in family depends on the legal status of the person already present in Switzerland. A distinction is made between: 

  1. Reunification with family members of Swiss citizens
  2. Reunification with family members of foreign nationals with a permit for settled foreign nationals
  3. Reunification with family members of foreign nationals with a permit for resident foreign nationals or permit for short-term residents 

1. Family members of Swiss citizens 

Foreign spouses and unmarried children aged under 18 of Swiss nationals that come from third states are entitled to issue or extension of their residence permit insofar as they live together.

In addition, all foreign family members of Swiss nationals are entitled to issue and extension of their residence permit if they are in possession of a permanent residence permit of a state with which Switzerland has concluded a freedom of movement agreement. Family members include:

  • the spouse and relatives in descending order that are under 21 years old or for whose care the person is responsible.
  • relatives and relatives of the spouse in ascending order for whose care the person is responsible.

Spouses are ultimately entitled to issue of a permit for settled foreign nationals after a stay of five years. Children aged under twelve will be given a permit for settled foreign nationals from the beginning.


2. Family members of persons with a permit for settled foreign nationals

Foreign spouses and unmarried children aged under 18 of those with a permit for settled foreign nationals are entitled to issue or extension of their residence permit if as they live together.

Spouses are entitled to issue of a permit for settled foreign nationals after an uninterrupted stay of five years.

Children aged under twelve are entitled to issue of a permit for settled foreign nationals from the beginning.

The legal status of the joining family members shall, in turn, be based on the person with a residence permit that is already present in Switzerland.


3. Spouses and children of persons with a permit for resident foreign nationals or permit for short-term residents

Family members of those with a permit for resident foreign nationals or permit for short-term residents do not have legal entitlement to family reunification. The immigration authority grants the permit at its discretion.

The legal status of the joining persons shall, in turn, be based on the person that already has a permit for resident foreign nationals or permit for short-term residents. 

Determine the right residence permit