Entry and Student Visa

Before you can start your studies in Switzerland, you have to make various arrangements with regard to accommodation, insurance, entry and residence. The conditions depend on your country of origin/nationality. It is the student or prospective student’s responsibility to get information on the entry formalities in due time and make the necessary arrangements.

Most nationals from countries outside the European Union/ European Economic Area need a visa to enter Switzerland for study purposes. It is very important to check the immigration requirements early enough. After you submit the application it usually takes around 3 months for the visa to actually be issued! Please use the following link to learn more about the visa application process for international students 

Visa and Residence Permit - Guidelines

FAQ Visa Application

The answers refer to the procedures for a student visa in the Canton of Zurich. Other cantons have different requirements and procedures – for these, the answers may not be correct!  

Do i need as visa?

On the website of the SEM (State Secretariat for Migration), you will find an alphabetical list of countries. Click on the first letter of your country. This list is always up to date and provides reliable information on whether you need a visa for a stay of more than 90 days.

According to my nationality, I require a visa. However, I have a permanent residence permit in an EU country. Do I still need a visa?

Yes, the nationality is decisive, not the current residence permit.

Can I enter Switzerland with a tourist visa and then obtain a residence permit?

No, that is impossible. Please note that it illegal to start your studies on a tourist visa.  

I have received my visa, but it is only valid for 3 months. Is that correct?

Yes, the visa only entitles you to enter Switzerland. Within two weeks of entering Switzerland, you must apply for a residence permit at the local residents’ registration office (in Zurich: the «Kreisbüro»). This is normally valid for one year and can be extended if your studies take longer. When you renew your residence permit, you must provide proof of your financial status (CHF 21,000 on your bank account).

I start my studies in September. When should I apply for the visa?

We recommend not to apply for the visa before the end of May/beginning of June. If you apply too early, the Zurich Migration Office will not approve the visa immediately but will have it held pending until sometime in June. However, it is advisable to make an appointment with the relevant Swiss embassy in your home country early enough to ensure that you can actually submit your application on the date you wish.

Do I have to submit my visa application in my home country?

No, if you are staying temporarily (e.g. for study purposes) in another country and have a residence permit there, you can apply for a visa at the Swiss embassy or a Swiss consulate general in that country.

The Embassy told me that SBS could speed up the visa process. Is that true?

No. SBS has no influence whatsoever on the processes of the Migration Office. The more complete the documents you submit, the faster the visa will be approved.

Why did my friends, who applied for the visa later than me, already receive it and I did not?

This does not mean that there is something wrong with your visa. The exact time of visa authorization depends on many different factors, including which person at the Migration Office of the Canton of Zurich is responsible for your visa and how much he/she has to do. Please be patient! If the Migration Office has any questions or requires additional documents, you will be informed!

Is it possible that my visa application will be rejected?

Yes, that is possible. For example, if you do not submit all the necessary documents and do not submit them at the request of the Migration Office, or if you are a Master or Bachelor applicant older than 30 years.
Visas of students who already have a degree at the level of the desired degree are usually rejected

My visa was rejected. Can SBS help me with an appeal?

No, unfortunately, this is not possible.

Applications Documents

The embassy demands my original certificates. However, I have already sent them to the SBS Admissions Office.

Embassies usually do not forward original certificates to Switzerland with the visa application but they may want to inspect the originals during your visa appointment. If you no longer have the originals, ask the embassy whether they are mandatory (most embassies accept copies). If the embassy insists on the originals, please contact the International Student Support.

Do I really have to have my diplomas/certificates translated into German?

Yes, unless the original documents are in English (although the official language in Zurich is German, the Migration Office of the Canton of Zurich usually also accepts English documents). If your certificates are in another language (e.g. Chinese), then you should have them translated into German (not English).

The embassy gave me a list of visa documents which is different from the SBS list. What should I do?

The embassies have to provide a list that is valid for all 26 cantons in Switzerland (they all have slightly different requirements), If the embassy requires additional documents which are not on the SBS Check list, hand in these to.

Can i work during my studies?

During the semester, you may accept a paid part-time job of no more than 15 hours a week. Full-time employment is permitted during the lecture-free period. However, in both cases, your employer will have to apply for your work permit at the cantonal Office for Economy and Labour (“Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit” – AWA) if you come from a non-​EU country (including the UK). This is only possible once you have received your residence permit!

Financial Evidence

I cannot provide financial proof by means of a bank statement and have acquaintances or relative in Switzerland who would like to provide financial guarantee for me. How can I obtain the necessary form?

The form will only be sent to you by the Migration Office of the Canton of Zurich if you included no or insufficient financial proof with your visa application.

There is no bank in my country that is on the Finma List as required. What should I do?

There are only very few countries where there is not a single bank that is on the Finma List (e.g. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Pakistan). All other students have to open an account with a bank from this list in their home country.

I do not have the required CHF 21,000. Can I still get a visa?

No. Financial proof is a must unless you have a relative or acquaintance that will provide a financial guarantee for you.

I do not have an account with sufficient funds. Can I enclose a bank statement from my parents?

No, this is not accepted. You must be the account holder. A joint account of you and a parent can be accepted if both names are mentioned as the account holder. Most students have to open a new account in their home country in order to meet the requirements of the Zurich Migration Office.

Important Note

If the student intends to follow the educational programs at SBS Swiss Business School for immigration purposes, it is the SOLE responsibility of the student or prospective student to check if the country of origin/destination accepts our educational programs. Immigration legislation is complex and changes on a regular basis, it is, therefore, the sole responsibility of the student or prospective student to check with specialized lawyers in this matter. SBS Swiss Business School does not take any responsibility in this matter.

The information on this page is meant for information purposes only. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information. The rules and regulations may have changed in the meantime. For legally binding information please contact the respective authorities.

For SBS Swiss Business School in general.