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Old 25.01.2016, 12:17
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Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

Hi all,

Some background about me:
Non-EU Citizen
2009-2014: Ph.D in ETH Zurich
1.2015 - Today: Working in a local company in Zurich with L visa

To receive the L visa my employer had to apply to AWA and prove why I am such a rare specialist that they need a non-eu for the job.
My L visa (which is valid for one year) was renewed and I got another L visa for 2016. I've been told that for 2017 I can apply for B.

Currently the name of my employer is actually written on my resident permit and I've been told by the migration office that every job change even inside the same company requires the approval of AWA.

However, I have many reasons to leave my job and I also now have a very good job offer from another company.

Has anyone changed his work place while still having L visa? does AWA REALLY let you do that? Will they tell my current employer before approving the change? do they need the permission of my current employer for that?

My girlfriend called AWA and they told her that for specialists there might be different rules but in general they don't let people with L to change jobs at all and if I want to change jobs I have de-register from Switzerland and "take a break" of 12 months and only then apply again for a job. In general she said she picked racist vibes from his talk...

That's insane and makes me feel that even that I apply as specialist they will not be easy on me. I am afraid that they will contact my company and expose that I want to change jobs and end up not approving it. Then I will be stuck in my company with my boss starting to look for a replacement for me if not trying to get rid of me immediately...

Does anyone has an experience with that?

It's really frustrating, living and working in Switzerland for 6+ years and still have no right to change a job like a normal person and feeling like a captive/slave of my employers

Me and my Swiss girlfriend plan to get married in the summer of 2017 but I will never rush it just for the sake of visa.

Thanks in advance for your advice and opinions
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Old 25.01.2016, 12:21
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

1. AFAIK If you have done Ph.D at ETH Zurich, your employer don't have obligation to find Swiss/EU first.
2. If another company is interested in hiring you, ask them to get a work authorization for you. Once they get it you resign from your existing job.
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Old 25.01.2016, 12:27
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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1. AFAIK If you have done Ph.D at ETH Zurich, your employer don't have obligation to find Swiss/EU first.
2. If another company is interested in hiring you, ask them to get a work authorization for you. Once they get it you resign from your existing job.
Thanks for the quick reply.
1. Yes, but to accept me as a specialist they still need to prove that I am a special expert required for this position. I already signed a contract that was rejected by AWA because they said I'm not a specialist for this position and asked the employer to prove he couldn't find other candidates for the job in the EU. (The employer gave up on me and I had to look for another job)

2. That's what I plan to do, but I am afraid that AWA will then contact my current company and then it might create a mess, especially if my current employer has a veto-right on such job-change request.
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Old 25.01.2016, 12:55
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

I don't think so that AWA is going to contact your current company. May be ask your new employer about this issue.

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Thanks for the quick reply.
1. Yes, but to accept me as a specialist they still need to prove that I am a special expert required for this position. I already signed a contract that was rejected by AWA because they said I'm not a specialist for this position and asked the employer to prove he couldn't find other candidates for the job in the EU. (The employer gave up on me and I had to look for another job)

2. That's what I plan to do, but I am afraid that AWA will then contact my current company and then it might create a mess, especially if my current employer has a veto-right on such job-change request.
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Old 25.01.2016, 13:27
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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1. AFAIK If you have done Ph.D at ETH Zurich, your employer don't have obligation to find Swiss/EU first...
I'm not a permit expert, but I think that's only in the first 6 months after graduation. OP has been here longer than that so he probably falls under "regular" non-EU hiring rules.

I know this has been discussed here before, but I can't find the thread I'm thinking about. I seem to recall that if your employer's name is on your permit, they must agree to you switching to a new employer. After all, they paid the money to get your permit approved in the first place.
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Old 25.01.2016, 13:41
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

According to the Foreign Nationals Act L permit holders are not allowed to change jobs without a good very good reason to do so. And yes, normally if you've been on an L permit and finished your stint here (without getting another extension or a B permit) a break of a year is expected before you can try again to get a job here.

https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classifi...232/index.html

Until you obtain an "open", i.e. not tied to your employer, B permit you will have this every time you try and change jobs. Only with an open B are you allowed to live and work anywhere in Switzerland.

And it's possibe they may contact your current employer. As 3Wishes says they paid a lot of money to get your permit, so it's likely they'll need to agree to any change of employer.

Non-EU (L permit) changing job, any risk?

non EU B permit - change job, open or closed permit
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Old 25.01.2016, 17:20
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

First - many thanks for the info people!

That sounds bad, very bad, I really hope you are wrong.
Do you really think it's true that since my current employer paid for my visa they have a right to hold me hostage like a slave? Did any of you have a concrete proof for that or know a person that had to go through that?

As even the AWA person admitted – my situation might be different than the general L-holder case since I was/am accepted to the job based on being "specialist" rather than the case of an employer looking for eu/ch person but couldn't find. However, I still don't know how different it is...

again - thanks for everyone, this whole issue is really depressing, especially now that I've finally found a job I really like.
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Old 25.01.2016, 18:42
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

Your employer has the "right" to do whatever they want, non-EU status or not. Even EU nationals can be fired here for no reason. Iirc it costs an employer in the region of 4,000-5,000 francs to process a permit application so yes, they're not going to want to lose you too easily, just because you're unhappy at work and want to change jobs. They are perfectly within their rights to say no to any employment change if asked, if they want to keep your skills/experience. And from the couple of threads I linked to I get the impression that the current employer being willing to help with the changeover can help a lot in the process - a letter of recommendation being mentioned.

As far as the Swiss are concerned you have two choices - stick with the current job or quit and leave the country. Getting them to agree a change will be very difficult on an L permit.

Being a specialist will only differentiate from the usual in that your new employer might find it a bit easier to justify hiring you, that's all.

Your options are to sit it out until you can get an open B (or marry) or take the risk, get the new employer to apply and hope it might be successful. Even if you get a B next time around it will still be a tied one, open B permits aren't usually granted until you've been employed for 5 years - 2 on an L and 3 on a tied B.

Also bear in mind that the Swiss voted to curb immigration from the EU. While they're still working out the details of how they're going to do that, non-EU permit applications/changes are being much more closely scrutinized than they may have been before.
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Old 25.01.2016, 19:00
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

Don't be depressed. Ask your new employer to get you a work authorization. If he is successful in getting one resign your exisiting job otherwise continue with the same.

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First - many thanks for the info people!

That sounds bad, very bad, I really hope you are wrong.
Do you really think it's true that since my current employer paid for my visa they have a right to hold me hostage like a slave? Did any of you have a concrete proof for that or know a person that had to go through that?

As even the AWA person admitted my situation might be different than the general L-holder case since I was/am accepted to the job based on being "specialist" rather than the case of an employer looking for eu/ch person but couldn't find. However, I still don't know how different it is...

again - thanks for everyone, this whole issue is really depressing, especially now that I've finally found a job I really like.
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Old 25.01.2016, 19:16
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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...Do you really think it's true that since my current employer paid for my visa they have a right to hold me hostage like a slave?
Good grief, you're not a slave. You can quit your job and leave the country. You can apply for the other job and see how it goes.

Sorry to sound so harsh, but as Medea says, as a non-EU you don't have any right to a job here so you're fortunate your current employer went through the effort to hire you.

Do you actually have a solid offer in writing? Does this new employer know the hoops they need to jump through? If so, you may be fine. Larger companies often have dedicated staff to help with non-EU hiring and getting the necessary cantonal approval.

It is noble of you to say you don't want to rush the wedding on account of the permit. However, if you're already planning to get married I don't see whether now or next year makes any difference. Once you're married you will have a family reunification permit with the right to work anywhere in Switzerland, and your employer won't need to jump through any hoops to hire you. If you're going to be here anyway and get married anyway, do give it some consideration.
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Old 25.01.2016, 19:21
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

Thanks for the reply but I can't see how can you agree that the employer should have so much power.

The employer has the right to fire me when I don't want to be fired? makes sense - in the same way I should have the right to resign when the employer still wants to keep me.

The employer paid $$$$ to hire me? No problem, give him the right to deduct even twice of that from my last salary, no problem.

The idea of the employer having any "right" to say no to me leaving doesn't make any sense.

I don't ask to retain my visa. Take my visa, de-register me from Switzerland and let another company apply for a working visa for me just like my current employer did.

This whole idea of my current employer having a say in future once I decided to leave the country makes it feel a bit like slavery and leaves a very bitter taste regarding the whole attitude of the country to foreigners (in addition to my previous bad experience with the migration/awa).

I am still hoping that the negative prospects written here are not precise and that at least my case will have a happy end. I will keep investigating it.
In the meantime - info from people with concrete evidence and experience in such cases is very welcomed!

Thanks in advance
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Old 25.01.2016, 19:36
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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...This whole idea of my current employer having a say in future once I decided to leave the country makes it feel a bit like slavery and leaves a very bitter taste regarding the whole attitude of the country to foreigners (in addition to my previous bad experience with the migration/awa).
Oh, you're misreading the situation. Don't panic!

The current employer would only have to agree to you changing to a new Swiss employer (maybe, that part is not 100% clear). They don't have the ability to keep you in Switzerland if you want to leave, and AFAIK they don't even have the ability to charge you for the money they put up for the permit process.
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Old 25.01.2016, 19:37
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Good grief, you're not a slave. You can quit your job and leave the country. You can apply for the other job and see how it goes.
But that's the thing, according to AWA I will have to stay away of CH 12 months before any company can apply for me again!
If what people here saying is true - if my employer agrees then I don't have to wait these 12 months - then that means the employer can decide to expel me from CH for 12 months if he doesn't like the fact I decided to switch jobs.

According to AWA these 12 months thing is meant to scare people and prevent them from even considering taking a risk to switch a job.

Thanks for the complement - but I am not noble, maybe a bit too proud to marry for papers. But since my gf cannot leave CH in the near future, I might have to choose between early marriage or leaving her for 1-2 years, which is an easy choice...

Thanks again for your helpful comments, this community is amazing. Thanks!

My (hopefully) new employer is a huge one, so I guess I should stop panicking in the forum and let them lead the process and see what they say...
Still would be happy to hear experiences from people who went through the same process. From my side, I will update the thread when I know more.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.01.2016 at 20:47. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 25.01.2016, 20:43
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

Your current employer would have no say in any future employment here if you left the country - don't know where you got that from. But the Swiss authorities do. If you do decide to leave then expect to have to wait a year before they'll consider granting you a new permit with another employer.

You do have the right to resign - with all its attendent risks as a non-EU national. Whether you want to take that risk is up to you. If you quit, your right to continue to live here disappears the day you resign. There's no grace period allowing you to stay while you sort out things like cancelling rental contracts, mobile phone, insurances, etc. If you happen to be from a non-EU country that doesn't need a tourist visa to visit Switzerland then you can just about get away with becoming a tourist for another 90 days, but if you're not from one of those countries then you're pretty much expected to leave immediately your permit becomes invalid - which it does when you lose your job, even if it has some time still left until it needs to be renewed. This is what a "tied" permit (L or B) means - it's tied to your employment - if you lose that then you lose the right to stay here once your employment ends.

The Swiss/AWA don't need to scare you. The law is quite clear - L permit holders are not allowed to change jobs without a VERY good reason. Getting a new job offer isn't one of them.

I hope for your sake you are successful in making the switch and yes, please do let us know what happens. It's useful info for others in the same situation and as you can see from mine and 3Wishes efforts we haven't found much here on the forum to provide answers for you. So your experience, one way or the other, will provide info for others on the possibility or not of changing jobs on an L permit.
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Old 25.01.2016, 20:43
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

All your employer can ask is that the terms of the contract you signed with them be respected. So stuff like notice period, relocation costs if leaving within a certain time, etc. which are typical in a employment contract.

The posts about your employer having control over where you work next make no sense at all. The 12 month gap is for intra company transfers from abroad, not for local hires.

If your next employer applies for and gets another L authorization for you, resign and serve out your notice period. If they dont get an authorization, just continue in your current job until your permit transitions to a B. I am not aware of any Swiss law that says your current employer has to give their assent for you to leave the job while on an L. In this forum, there is an occasional undercurrent of expecting gratefulness for just being allowed to breathe Swiss air, you just caught a whiff of it.

Once you get a B, a transition to a new employer does not need repeat authorizations.

Last edited by Kosti; 25.01.2016 at 20:46. Reason: Added some info
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Old 25.01.2016, 21:06
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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...In this forum, there is an occasional undercurrent of expecting gratefulness for just being allowed to breathe Swiss air, you just caught a whiff of it.
I agree this is sometimes true on EF, but I disagree it's happened in this thread. When I said he should feel fortunate, it wasn't meant to imply he's not grateful for the opportunity. I'm sure he is.

He should feel good about the fact an employer here has already gone through the process to hire him and it worked. There are a limited number of non-EU permits available under the quota system and he got one. That's great!

Clearly the Swiss believe he does have special qualifications for this job or they wouldn't have approved this permit. I'd say that's encouraging in terms of getting another permit, although not a guarantee.
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Old 25.01.2016, 21:11
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

We never said the employer had control over where he worked next. We did say he may be able to refuse to release him from his current contract, but weren't sure about that. The 12 month was never mentioned for local hires, only if the OP leaves the country.

And as far as I know a tied B still needs authorisation from the Swiss authorities to make the change.
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Old 26.01.2016, 00:11
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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He should feel good about the fact an employer here has already gone through the process to hire him and it worked.
Sorry friend but dont make such statements for strangers. The only side that feels good about it is my employer, they got an underpaid expert. If I only knew it will be s big deal to change a job I wouldn't sign with them.
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Old 26.01.2016, 08:31
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

You have been here since 2009 so had plenty of time to find out the rules. And yes, you should feel good about it as you managed to find work here after graduating - most non-EU students don't I suspect.

What's done is done. Now you have to decide how you move forward.

Stay where you are for a few more years until you get the coveted open B permit.

Marry your girlfriend thereby getting a B dependent's permit allowing you to change jobs without the non-EU hassle in the relatively near future. How long is your potential new employer prepared to wait to hire you btw?

Take the chance and get your potential new employer to apply for a new permit for you and hope the application is successful.

Quit your current job and take the "job break" hit for the year and then try and find a new employer to apply for a new permit for you.
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Old 26.01.2016, 15:35
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Re: Switching jobs with L permit [Non-EU]

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You have been here since 2009 so had plenty of time to find out the rules.
Another mocking/patronizing sentence out of context? As I already wrote - I asked the authorities several times but got contradicting messages.

I am a professional who is very wanted in his field and got much better offers abroad but stayed here only for my gf, so dont expect me to say thanks for being allowed to breath the swiss air. Don't tell what I should be happy for and what not,.

The rest of your message shows that you clearly didnt read my messages or that you are just trying to be a troll. Either way - thanks for your contribution, heard what you have to say on this matter, you can stop now.
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