Work permit and Visa


For future employees whose nationality requires a visa to enter Switzerland (except Western Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brunei), they must go as soon as possible to the Swiss embassy or consulate nearest to their place of residence to submit an application to enter Switzerland to TAKE EMPLOYMENT.

If you are not sure whether you need to apply for a visa, consult the official list of entry and visa requirements for all countries, issued by the Swiss authorities.

Arrival of a new employee at the EPFL

A new employee must register at residents’ registration office (contrôle des habitants) in the municipality of residency within 8 days upon arrival in Switzerland. EXAMPLE: A new employee working at the EPFL, and living in Pully will register with the residents’ registration office of Pully. The same scenario for an employee living in Morges, Lausanne, Renens, St. Sulpice etc. 

The new employee must provide the following documents:

  • The application for a residency permit (demande de titre de séjour) previously provided by Human Resources
  • A valid passport as well as the passports of all family members who will relocate to Switzerland with the employee
  • Marriage certificate, birth certificates for children without an existing passport
  • EPFL contract or EPFL invitation letter

Official website of the Canton of Vaud

Information regarding permits and visas for the EPFL units

The time line for obtaining a work permit is variable. 

Principally a 1 month wait is to be expected for future employees from the EU and a 3 month wait for future employees from Third States (non-EU).

For work permit requests and renewals for foreign employees, paid or not, please contact the HR representatives, per faculty to the right of this page.

Work permits and residency permits

A residency permit with the intention of employment is mandatory for all people coming to work at the EPFL regardless of the duration of employment or whether the employee is remunerated or not.

Only Human Resources are authorized to establish and/or provide the necessary documents to obtain a residency permit and work permit from the Swiss authorities.

The hiring time line

So that we may ensure the hiring of a new employee (temporary or permanent) within the requested deadline, please consider the following time line from the moment the completed hiring file has been sent to Human Resources:

       ► 1 month for Swiss nationals
       ► 1 month for EU nationals
       ► 3 months for non-EU nationals

The expected time line for obtaining a permit is variable depending on whether the person is living abroad or if the person is already legally in Switzerland.

It is mandatory that the request is sent to Human Resources before the start of employment.

Permit renewal

When renewing a permit, please contact Human Resources at least one week before the expiration of the permit so that the process may be completed on time.

A copy of the new permit (both sides) should be sent to your Faculty/VP Human Resources assistant.

Language Requirements – Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNA)

Since the introduction of the Law on Foreigners and Integration (LEI) in January 2019, provisions have been introduced that emphasize, among other things, the need for the integration of foreigners and, in particular, knowledge of the language spoken at the place of residence.

Thus, in a certain number of cases, a minimum level of proficiency in the language (French in the canton of Vaud) is now required.

A language requirement has been introduced :

  • To be authorized to join one’s spouse or partner in Switzerland for family reunification
    This new requirement does not apply to Europeans benefiting from the free movement of persons, nationals of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EU and EFTA).
    Nor does it apply to Professors, who benefit from a C permit upon entry, as well as their spouses (married) and children under 12 years of age who entered Switzerland by family reunification.
  • To obtain a settlement permit (C permit)
    This new requirement does not apply to nationals of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain who benefit from an establishment agreement between these States and Switzerland.
  • In order to be authorized to stay in Switzerland after the dissolution of the marriage when the residence permit is linked to family reunification

The level of French required varies according to the situation.

DocumentLanguage proficiency levels required according to status (PDF, 25 KB)

In these cases, an attestation of the language level must be attached to the application file (see list of documents according to each type of application).

Legal basis: