Visa

Information for CMS, Bachelor and Master students

Depending on your country of origin, you may need to apply for a visa to study in Switzerland: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality.

Fulfilling all the conditions does not necessarily mean that a visa will automatically be issued. In any case, the criteria of the competent Federal and Cantonal authorities must be adhered to.

Switzerland has different administrations, one for each canton. Immigration formalities (visa and residence permit) must be done in the canton where you will study.

EPFL is present in five cantons of Switzerland: Vaud, Geneva, Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel. The addresses and documents provided below are for Canton of Vaud. For extended campus, please ask the respective Population office:

Population office for Extended campus of Genève
Population office for Extended campus of Valais
Population office for Extended campus of Fribourg
Population office for Extended campus of Neuchâtel
Population office for EPFL campus Lausanne/Vaud

  • Apply for your visa as soon as possible. Some embassies agree to open a file for you even if you only have a temporary admission document (available only for bachelor students) from the EPFL.
  • Delay for appointments at the embassy can be quite long and will get longer as the beginning of the academic year approaches. Therefore, if you are waiting for a document for your application, inquire about when you will receive the document and schedule an appointment with the embassy in advance. If worse comes to worst, you will have to reschedule the appointment if you haven’t received the document yet.
  • Contact the embassy on a regular basis to inquire about your application status. Sometimes embassies have already received the information that your visa is ready but haven’t provided the information to you yet.
  • Read this page and verify whether you provided all the necessary information and, if this isn’t the case, follow the procedure.

EPFL is not the government authority responsible for issuing visas and has no power to speed up the process. Applications are processed on a first come first serve basis by the relevant authority. It is therefore solely your responsibility to submit your complete and correct application as early as possible to the authorities.

Please note that it is pointless to continue your visa procedure if you cannot be in Lausanne by 30 September. After this date you will not be able to attend courses, as you will have missed to much of your curriculum to be able to catch up.

The visa D for a long stay visa – more than 3 months must be requested from the Swiss representation (embassy or consulate) closest to your home abroad.

The visa application must be submitted at least 3 months prior to the start of your planned studies using the form available on your country on the previous link.

A tourist visa is only valid for 3 months and cannot be converted into a student permit after your arrival in Switzerland. You will have to go back home when your student visa is ready.

The visa allows you to enter into Switzerland, this is why it has a limited period.

The residence permit, which you will have to ask for at your arrival in Switzerland will allow you to stay in Switzerland.

Request a multiple entry visa to avoid having to repeat the procedure if you have to leave the country for any reason during its validity, i.e. during around 3 months (conference abroad, urgent trip to go home etc…). the residence permit you will receive after your arrival, will allow you to go back home and to travel in the schengen area without asking a new visa.

If you have to go out of Switzerland and have not received your residence permit yet, please check your visa: if it is a “multi entry visa” and if you are in the deadlines, then you can go abroad and come back into Switzerland without any problems. If your visa is not a “multi entry visa”, you will need to ask for a new visa (return visa) to the population office (Division étrangers). This visa will be given to you directly at the desk on the same day.

To ensure that the process is carried out as efficiently and rapidly as possible, you are requested to submit with the visa application the form: Application for a Temporary Residence Permit for Study Purposes in the Canton of Vaud (pdf form). If you do not give this document at that moment, it will be requested on a later stage and it will therefore make the process longer. Please read this document carefully and enclose all the requested documents so that your application can be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Be aware that the Service de la Population may release a visa at earliest for the Saturday preceding the Welcome day (or one week before the intensiv French course). Do not ask for an entry before this date as you will not get it and book your tickets accordingly.

If you have not received your previous academic degree/diploma yet, you can provide an attestation (with official signature and stamp from your school. There is no need to notarize it) informing that you successfully completed your previous program. This attestation will also be useful for the registration at EPFL. If you are not able to get this attestation because your studies are not finished yet, make sure to start the visa application despite this and scan this attestation or the official document and send it as soon as possible directly to the population office by email to [email protected] to complete your file.

You have to prove that you have 2000.- CHF/month to live in Switzerland. Generally embassies/consulates request this amount for a whole academic year. As the exact amount is given by embassies/consulates, please contact them or check their website for more information. Proofs:

  • Bank statement(s) (of one or several accounts): If the account(s) is not your’s, ask the account holder(s) to sign a letter confirming that he/she will support you during your studies. Or use this form (in french only). The date when the money has been put on the account does not matter.
  • Scholarship attestation: If the scholarship is lower than 2000.- CHF/month, you will have to prove that you have sufficient means to cover the difference.

You will have to ask for an extension of your residence permit on a yearly basis and prove again that you have 2000.- CHF/month, for at least six months.

In order to receive your visa for the intensive French course, (If you would like to attend) follow these instructions when filling in the form “Application for a temporary residence permit for study purposes in the Canton de Vaud”. (pdf form)

  • In section “E/Study plan”: write down that you will attend the intensive French course.
  • Under “Course start date”: write down the French course starting date and not the beginning of the academic year.

If the registration attestation has not been added to your visa application, please send it as soon as possible directly to the population office by email to [email protected] to complete your file.

Do not wait to find an accommodation to apply for your visa. In the form “Application for a Temporary Residence Permit for Study Purposes in the Canton of Vaud” (pdf form) (section f, point 6) please proceed as following:

  • Give a copy of the communication exchanged if you have already taken some measures to find an accommodation (registration in student halls, emails with private landlords, etc.).
  • Write that you are in contact with the EPFL housing information service if you haven’t started looking for an accommodation yet.

This document is needed to get the visa. To ensure that the process is carried out as efficiently and rapidly as possible, the population office request to submit with the visa application the form “Application for a Temporary Residence Permit for Study Purposes in the Canton of Vaud”. (pdf form) Please read this document carefully and enclose all the requested documents (even if they have been already requested in your application visa, those documents will be dealt by another department) so that your application can be dealt with as quickly as possible.

If you were not able to give this form with your visa application, please, send it as soon as possible by email to the population office [email protected]

Tuition fees at EPFL cannot be paid in advance. Accepted students receive their tuition fee bills only during the registration process. More information and certificate to print on this page.