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Federal Office for Migration (FOM) – Information and links
Visa Requirements
Photo Requirements
Important Notice

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Schengen Visa information

Introduction of the VIS
Where to apply? Swiss visa desks in the USA
Who needs a visa?
U.S. citizens traveling to Switzerland
Processing time
Visa fee
Information about work visa
Visa for which an authorization has been given directly in Switzerland
Liechtenstein
Introduction of the VIS


On 11 October 2011 the Schengen member states introduced the Visa Information System (VIS). The VIS will also be used to store the biometric data (10 fingerprints and the facial image) of the visa applicants. The diplomatic representations of the Schengen member states will be gradually connected to the system region by region.

Along with the connection to the VIS on May 15th, 2014, all diplomatic representations of the Schengen member states in the United States of America have to capture the biometric data of persons applying for a Schengen visa.

An information leaflet of the European Union relating to the introduction of the VIS and the capture of biometric data can be found on their http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/borders/borders_vis_en.htm website.

Important information for frequent travellers to Switzerland and Schengen

New rule on calculation of the duration of stay within the Schengen Area:
In accordance with current Schengen rules, citizens of non-Schengen countries, regardless of their visa obligation status, may enter and remain within the Schengen Area without a residence permit for up to «90 days per 180-day period starting from the date of first entry».
Starting on 18 October 2013, these rules will be changed so that stays within the Schengen Area without a residence permit will be possible for up to «90 days over any 180-day period».
This change means that the 180-day period (i.e. reference period) will no longer correspond to 180 days following the date of first entry, but rather to the 180 days prior to the control date (border control upon entry into or departure from the Schengen Area, or police check within the Schengen Area). In other words, the duration of stay must not exceed at any time 90 days per 180-day period

Please also check the following website of the Federal Office for Migration for further information: http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/en/home/themen/einreise.html website of the Federal Office for Migration.



In order to apply for a visa, your passport must have at least two empty pages.
Also, your passport must have been issued within the last ten years. A passport older than ten years that has been extended for a period exceeding ten years from the time of issuance cannot be accepted.

A complete application must be submitted to the Embassy or Consulate General at least 15 days before the intended visit and can not be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended visit.

Please note that the new Schengen visa application form must be signed in two places: the first signature refers to the application (Nr. 37) and the second at the bottom of the page to the Schengen consent that follows it. It is also necessary to sign the "complementary page to the visa application".

Citizens of Bermuda require a visa, except if they are holders of a passport containing one of the following entries under the heading "nationality": British Citizen (B.C.) or British National (Overseas) (B.N.O.)

Only persons who have a legal residence status in the United States can apply for visas at Swiss representations in the United States (e.g. Green Card holders; F1 (I-20), H1B, G1, J1, etc.). Tourists and visitors on B1/B2 visas must apply in their country of residence.

As a general rule, the applicant must appear in person to submit a visa request. Please consult the information below to find out which visa desk is responsible for your place of residence and whether you may apply by mail.

Where to apply? Swiss visa desks in the USA
  • Atlanta
    Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Cayman Islands
  • New York
    Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • San Francisco
    California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • Washington
    District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia and U.S. territories without Swiss representation (Guam and Saipan)
Who needs a visa?

Please consult the lists in the link below to find out if you require a visa.
http://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home/themen/einreise/merkblatt_einreise.html Information for Entry to Switzerland (Federal Office of Migration)

All persons, including U.S. citizens who intend to stay in Switzerland for more than three consecutive months, will need authorization from the cantonal authorities and a visa from the responsible Swiss visa desk. The same rule applies for all persons who intend to engage in gainful activity in Switzerland. Special regulations apply for the citizens of EU/EFTA member countries, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

U.S. citizens traveling to Switzerland

As a citizen of the United States of America, you may visit Switzerland or any other country of the Schengen area, without requiring a visa. As a general rule, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen area for a maximum period of 90 days within 180 days.

The United States of America may have concluded a bilateral agreement with one or more Schengen countries, allowing you to stay longer than 90 days within 180 days in those countries. Please be aware however that Switzerland has not concluded such an agreement with the United States of America. Any such agreement is of a strictly bilateral character, and does not alter the 90-days-within-180-days rule for Switzerland.

Thus, when you travel to Switzerland, you should make sure that you have not yet exhausted the 90 days within 180 days period of legal stay in the Schengen area since your first entry into the Schengen area, regardless of any bilateral agreement. This applies also to Schengen departures via Swiss airports. If you exceed the 90 days stay, you risk to be fined or even be banned from entering the Schengen area for some time.

We advise you to obtain more information from the Swiss representations prior to your travel if you plan to exceed the 90 days limit within 180 days.

U.S. passport must be valid until at least three months after the departure from Switzerland or any other Schengen country and must have been issued within the last 10 years.

Processing time

The time needed for a visa request to be processed may vary from case to case. It is therefore strongly recommended to take the necessary steps well in advance, so that the visa can be issued in the time required.

Short stay visas (tourists, visitors, business)
Complete applications are in general processed within 10-15 days

Long stay visas (work, study, residence) initiated at the visa desk abroad
At least eight to ten weeks

Visa for persons who have already received an authorization from a Swiss cantonal authority (initiated by the employer in Switzerland)
One week

Visa fee

USD 83.00 must be paid in cash or money order (made out to the competent Consulate or the Swiss Embassy) when submitting the application. If the application is made by mail, a money order is required. The fee will not be refunded if the visa is denied or the application withdrawn.
Additional payment options: All major credit cards accepted (except American Express).

Children between six and twelve years of age, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Moldova and Russia pay a reduced fee of USD 49.00.

An additional postage fee of USD 6.00 is required for a long stay visa application (work, student, residence), which has to be submitted to the responsible authorities in Switzerland.

The following are exempt from the visa fee: 
Children under six years of age, spouses and children of Swiss and EU/EFTA nationals, CERN and UN personnel (official trips only), and students who study in Switzerland for only up to 90 days. 

Please note that the list above is not exhaustive, so if you are unsure as to whether you have to submit payment, contact the Swiss representation competent for your state of residence.

Information about work visa

The issuance of work permits for Switzerland is regulated by the cantonal migration authorities and varies depending on each canton. It is your future employer’s duty to contact the responsible authority in Switzerland. If you are informed to apply for a visa at a Swiss representation in the United States, please follow the guidelines in the information leaflets on the right.

After arrival, every person must register with the immigration authority not longer than 14 days after arrival in Switzerland and, in all cases, before starting work.

Visa for which an authorization has been given directly in Switzerland

If your employer/school/family member has applied for your permit in Switzerland and it has been granted, you still must apply for a visa to enter Switzerland with the competent Swiss representation abroad.

To apply for the visa, you must submit the following documents to the competent Swiss representation:

  1. One Schengen visa application form (for stays up to 3 months or authorizations for a 120 day visa ) fully completed and signed by the applicant. No application form is necessary for long-term stays.
  2. One passport photo per applicant (very strict requirements, please consult the details on the webpage)
  3. Applicant’s valid original passport, plus a copy
  4. If applicable, proof of residency in the USA, e.g. a valid permanent residence card (green card), H1B visa, F-1 visa (plus copy of I-20), etc. Notarized copy if applying by mail
  5. Copy of authorization form
  6. Visa fee
  7. If applying by mail: one prepaid, self-addressed, return envelope with a tracking number
Liechtenstein

The Principalty of Liechtenstein is a member of the Schengen Agreement as of December 19, 2011.

Generally speaking, Liechtenstein's policy on admission of foreign residents is as restrictive as that of Switzerland. To find out the requirements and procedure, applicants with close ties should contact the authorities of Liechtenstein:
Ausländer und Passamt
Heuweg 6
FL-9490 Vaduz
Tel.: +423 236 61 41