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Quick Guide on How to Get a Student Visa in Switzerland – Step-by-Step Procedures

Written by Michael Nz. on January 5, 2023

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Introduction

Switzerland is a charming country with a wide range of cultures. It is currently one of the 20 richest countries in the world, one of the safest in Europe, and has many high-level universities.

You would need a student visa in Switzerland to study at any of the prestigious universities. 

If you want to study in Switzerland and are wondering how to get a student visa in Switzerland, this article is a complete guide and will show you the requirements and the fees you need to pay.

You will also learn if you need IELTS and if you can work while studying in Switzerland. Let us begin. 

Types of Student Visas in Switzerland

Before discussing the types of student visas in Switzerland, you must first understand which students require a visa and residence permit to study at a Swiss university. You should know that-

  • Students from the European Union (EU) do not require a visa if their stay is less than 90 days. They must contact the competent cantonal authority and apply for a residence permit within 14 days of their arrival in Switzerland if they wish to stay longer.
  • As a student from the EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) I am subject to the same rules as EU students. A visa is not required for stays of less than three months; however, a residence permit is required for longer stays.
  • Non-EU/EFTA students must apply for a visa to enter Switzerland. They can apply at the Swiss embassy or consulate in their country of origin. They must also apply for a residence permit once they arrive in Switzerland.

Non-EU/EFTA students have two visa options:

  • If you plan to study a short course or language program, you will need a short-term visa (up to 90 days, Schengen visa). You can apply for a short-term visa online.
  • A long-term visa (more than 90 days, a national visa) is also known as a D Visa. If you intend to study full-time. You can only apply for a long-term visa in person at a Swiss embassy or consulate in your country.

How do student visas work in Switzerland?

After receiving your acceptance letter from your university, the first step should be to schedule an appointment with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your area. These procedures take time, so make an appointment 6 months before you start studying. Short-stay visas take 10-15 days to process, while long-stay visas take 8-10 weeks.

Your documents must be written in French, German or English. You will need a sworn translation if they are not in that language.

If your Swiss student visa application was rejected because it was incomplete, the best thing to do is to try again, making sure to provide all the required information. Visa application fees are non-refundable, so please double-check your information before submitting.

If you are denied a visa, but do not agree with the decision, you can file an appeal within 30 days of receiving the result. You must respond in writing, with proof, explaining why your visa should not have been refused.

Requirements or Eligibility Criteria for the Student Visa in Switzerland

The requirements differ according to nationality. Those traveling from EU/EFTA countries do not need to obtain a visa. They only have 14 days after arrival to apply for a residence permit.

Residents of non-EU/EFTA countries must apply for a D or long-term visa. The following are the requirements for this Switzerland student visa (which must be in English, German or French):

#1. Completed application form. This form must be completed and submitted three times. You must provide the following information:

  • Personal information about you
  • Information on travel documents
  • The reason for your visit
  • Passport-size photographs. Four of these photographs must be submitted with your application package.

Check that they meet the following requirements:

  • colored passport
  • Dimensions: 35 x 45mm
  • The background color should be bright, preferably light grey.
  • The head should cover 70% to 80% of the total area of ​​the photograph.
  • The expression of the face is neutral: mouth closed, without a smile.
  • The use of hats is allowed (for religious purposes)

#2. Passport

  • Your passport must be valid for at least three months after your intended date of departure.
  • Acceptance letter. This proves that you have been accepted at the university where you intend to study.
  • Receipt of payment

#3. In the same way, you must present a receipt or proof of having paid the required study fees.

#4. Financial Security Proof

Your bank account and other financial assets should be able to cover the annual cost of EUR 19,200 ($22,515).

If you are a scholarship holder or have taken out a loan, you must bring documentation to prove it.

#5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

This will notify the embassy that you are qualified to participate in the program.

#6. Health coverage

This should amount to EUR 30,000 (approximately $35,175). This requirement does not apply to EU/EFTA students. Swiss health insurance automatically covers students who have a European Health Insurance Card.

#7. Motivational letter

You must explain why you chose Switzerland and your institution to continue your education.

#8. written agreement

On this form, you must declare that you will leave Switzerland after completing your studies.

How long is the Swiss student visa valid?

The student visa in Switzerland is valid for one year of your studies. You can renew your study visa until you complete your academic studies. Remember to submit your renewal request at least two weeks before the expiration date.

Fees and cost of the student visa in Switzerland

The summary of the fees you will have to pay is as follows: 

  • The application fee for a D visa is CHF 67 or $72.
  • For the student visa, you need to pay CHF 20 ($22) to register.
  • Documentation fees are CHF 65 or $70 (EU/EFTA), CHF 162 or $174 (non-EU/EFTA).

How to apply for a student visa in Switzerland?

1. Apply to a Swiss university.

As stated above, your acceptance letter is one of the requirements for the Swiss student visa. To get this, you need to be accepted into your desired program.

As with most institutions, applications can be submitted online. All you have to do is fill out the appropriate application form and pay the fee. You will also need to submit/upload the following requirements:

  • Transcripts of diplomas and academic records.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Language proficiency certification (depending on your university, it may require you to be proficient in English, German or French)
  • Personal statement or motivation letter
  • Acceptance letter from a research advisor for Ph.D. applicants

You can start the application process once you have received your acceptance letter.

2. Meet all visa requirements.

Unless you are an EU/EFTA resident, you must complete the Swiss student visa application requirements listed above.

3. Make an appointment at the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in your area.

Unlike short-term visas, long-term visa applications must be submitted in person. You must first schedule an appointment with the embassy or consulate.

Remember that the sooner you apply, the better. Submit your requirements at least six months before your intended departure date.

4. Show up for your appointment.

Once at the Swiss Embassy, ​​you can present the requirements mentioned above.

During your appointment, the consulate may also need to collect your biometric data (facial image and finger scans).

These will be stored in the Visa Information System for years. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to attend a personal interview.

5. You must wait for your visa.

It takes approximately 8-10 weeks for the embassy to process and issue your Swiss student visa.

6. Fly to Switzerland.

If you are an EU/EFTA resident, you can skip the steps above and continue with this one.

7. Apply for a temporary resident visa.

You must go to the citizens’ registry office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within 14 days of your arrival to obtain your temporary residence permit. If you live in Zurich, you can obtain a permit from the Kreisbüro.

The following are the requirements for this document:

  • Passport or identity card
  • Extended enrollment confirmation form from your institution Accommodation or rental agreement Proof of financial resources (at least CHF 1750 or $1880 per month)
  • You will also need to pay the fees mentioned above.
  • If you apply via the Kreisbüro, you must make an appointment for biometrics at the Zurich Migration Office.

8. You must wait for your residence permit.

This will be mailed to you.

Please note that a residence permit is only valid for one year. However, the Immigration Office will remind you of the renewal. The renewal form will be mailed to you one month before your permit expires.

You can continue to use it throughout your education, but you will need proof of financial resources each time.

You will also need to pay a renewal fee, the amount of which will be specified in the letter above.

Swiss student visa processing time

Visa processing time can range from 8-12 weeks, so it’s best to start your application as soon as possible.

Start your application at least three months before you need to travel, but ideally, you should start as soon as you receive an offer from a Swiss university.

Can I get a student visa in Switzerland without IELTS?

There are no language requirements to obtain a Swiss visa. On the other hand, universities will require a language proficiency test when you apply, which is usually sufficient for Swiss embassy officials.

The following are the most popular English language tests accepted by Swiss universities:

  • Academic IELTS
  • TOEFL iBT
  • academic PTE

In some cases, the embassy will want to assess your language skills through a short interview at the consulate or an oral and written test.

The Swiss representative will forward the entry application, including documentation and language proficiency assessment, to the appropriate cantonal migration authorities for approval.

Work while you Study in Switzerland

To work in Switzerland, you must notify the relevant immigration authority. International students can work up to 15 hours per week part-time during the semester and full-time during the holidays.

However, there is a catch for non-EU/EFTA students: they can only start working 6 months after starting their studies. The hiring company/employer must apply for a non-EU/EFTA student work permit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to process a student visa in Switzerland?

Visas for 10-15 days are available. Long-term visas are valid for at least 8 to 10 weeks.

How much financial proof do I need for a Swiss student visa?

The Immigration Office of the Canton of Zurich requires a letter from a bank domiciled in Switzerland (either a foreign bank with a branch in Switzerland or a Swiss bank with a branch in your home country) stating that you have access to CHF 21,000 or plus.

Can I work in Switzerland after finishing my studies?

Regarding work permits after studying in Switzerland, students can stay in the country for six months after completing their degree to search for employment. Successful job applicants are granted a Switzerland Visa for a work permit.

What financial resources will I need to study in Switzerland?

Your personal preferences for recreational activities often determine the cost of studying and living in Switzerland for an international student. Still, it is prudent to set aside at least CHF 1,600 ($1,700) – CHF 2,000 ($2,100) for monthly expenses (including tuition).

What is the cost of a Swiss student visa?

The Swiss student visa D application fee is CHF 88 ($90.). If you need a visa quickly or outside normal business hours, you may have to pay a surcharge (up to 50 euros more than the standard price). You must pay in addition to submitting your application.

Can I work in Switzerland with a student visa?

Students may work up to 15 hours per week; otherwise, they must apply for a work permit. The student’s family (spouse and children) can accompany the student to Switzerland, but the student must prove that she has sufficient resources to accommodate them.

Conclusion

If you are a student who wants to study in Switzerland but you are not sure what steps you need to take to prepare. Although Switzerland is part of the Schengen zone, a Schengen visa will allow you to enter the country, but if you want to stay as a student, you must take additional steps.

The procedures for EU/EFTA students differ from those for non-EU/EFTA students. Students may work up to 15 hours per week; otherwise, they must apply for a work permit.

The student’s family (spouse and children) may accompany the student to Switzerland, but the student must prove that they have sufficient resources to accommodate them.

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