Access to the Swiss labour market for family members, living in Switzerland, holders of a FDFA legitimation card of type "B", "C", "D", "E", "G", "I", "L", "P" and "R", of staff members of permanent missions and international organisations
A foreigner's Ci permit with gainful employment, which is a special authorization called "Ci permit", may be issued to the above-mentioned family members who are living in Switzerland together with the principal beneficiary (the person employed to perform official duties). This permit gives them access to the Swiss labour market, including when they are employed as consultants or interns by a permanent mission or an international organisation.
Access to the Swiss labour market is facilitated for these persons regardless of their nationality or qualification. In particular, the granting of a Ci permit is not subject to the Swiss ordinary rules. The applicants are thus not subject to the foreign labour quota nor to the labour market regulations (i.e. priority for workers residing in Switzerland, prior control of salary and working conditions).
Under no circumstances may a person work with their legitimation card, even as a volunteer. They must obtain a Ci permit which they receive in exchange for their legitimation card.
Persons entitled to a "Ci" permit
The above-mentioned family members may be granted a Ci permit. Children must have entered Switzerland on the ground of family regrouping before the age of 21 to be granted a Ci permit. Children who arrived in Switzerland after the age of 21 are not eligible for a Ci permit. They are subject to the ordinary rules regulating the exercise of gainful employment by foreign nationals in Switzerland, should they want to engage in such activity.
A Ci permit is also delivered when a person works from Switzerland for an employer based in a foreign country (e.g. by teleworking).
An exception to the requirement of living in the same household may be granted when the person is working in Switzerland in a place that is distant from the principal beneficiary's home and this situation prevents daily commuting. The applicant must provide the Population Office of their canton of residence (the canton where the principal beneficiary lives) with their residential address during the week and commit themselves in writing to returning every weekend to the principal beneficiary's home. Non-compliance with the above conditions will result in the withdrawal of the Ci permit.
“Ci permit" attestation
To make it easier for family members to approach employers when seeking employment, the Swiss Mission provide them, upon request, an “attestation concerning the issuance of an authorisation for residence with gainful employment - Ci permit" (see form to obtain such attestation).
Procedure to obtain a Ci permit
Upon the presentation of a work contract, an employment proposal or a declaration stating the intention to engage in an independent activity with a description of the latter, the person may request the issuance of a Ci permit in exchange for their legitimation card. They must submit their request to the Population Office of their canton of residence. The issuance of the permit is subject to a fee.
The person may start working as soon as they have submitted their application to the Population Office of their canton of residence. However, depending on the activity, it can only be carried out if the person has obtained, if necessary and beforehand, the necessary authorisations from the competent Swiss authorities to exercise the profession or independent activity (e.g. the commercial or health authority).
A person who is a national of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) may apply, under the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (fr), for an ordinary residence permit (B permit) instead of a Ci permit.
The Ci permit is valid throughout the territory of the canton that issued it. For EU/EFTA nationals, the Ci permit is valid throughout Switzerland. If the holder of a Ci permit changes place or profession during its period of validity, they must inform in advance the Population Office of the canton of residence in advance so that the Ci permit may be amended.
The Ci permit is issued for the duration of the contract or the independent activity, but for a maximum of two years. When it expires, its holder must contact the Population Office of the canton of residence in order to renew the Ci permit.
The person may benefit from a Ci permit for as long as the principal beneficiary exercises official duties. They may continue holding it while they are gainfully employed or, in the event of loss of employment, for the period during which they are entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits, if applicable. The Ci permit will, in any case, cease to be valid once the principal beneficiary loses the right to a legitimation card.
Privileges and immunities
The holder of a Ci permit continues to enjoy all of the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled to as a family member (private life), except with regard to their gainful activity:
- if they usually enjoy diplomatic status, they do not benefit from immunity in case of claims related to their gainful employment,
- they are subject to Swiss income tax on the gainful employment (in principle, they are taxed at source by their employer),
- they are subject to Swiss social insurance (AVS/AI/APG/AC and LPP) and to Swiss accident insurance with regard to this gainful activity,
- if they are an EU/EFTA national and if the principal beneficiary in a career staff member of an EU/EFTA permanent mission, they are subject to compulsory Swiss health insurance (LAMal) in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons.
End of gainful employment
If the person is no longer gainfully employed and can no longer benefit from unemployment benefits, they must return their Ci permit to the Population Office of the canton of residence. Their legitimation card will be given back to them, at the request of the permanent mission or the international organisation, if they are still entitled to it.
Incidental gainful activity
If the gainful activity, for an employer based in Switzerland or abroad, does not exceed 10 hours per week (15 hours for family members studying in Switzerland), the concerned person may keep their legitimation card, but must apply in writing for an authorisation from the Population Office of the canton of residence. The authorisation will be granted by the cantonal authority upon approval by the Swiss Mission. As with a Ci permit, the person is subject to ordinary law for their gainful activity (no immunity, income tax and social insurances).