If you’re from a country that is part of the European Union then you are free to enter Switzerland and stay for up to three-months without a Visa. The duration of your stay, however depends on the understanding that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself whilst in the county. If you cannot prove this you could end up being deported or refused entry.
Staying longer than 3 months in Switzerland requires a residence permit, which is issued by the Cantonal Migration Offices. A distinction is made between short-term residence permits (less than one year), annual residence permits (limited) and permanent residence permits (unlimited).
Citizens of the EU-17/EFTA have unrestricted freedom to live in Switzerland. These are: France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the UK, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The main types of residence Visa are as follows;
Residence permit L: issued for a limited period, usually lasts for a year and for a specific purpose.
Residence Permit B: Issued to those who have an employment contract lasting 12 months or more. This permit is valid for a period of five years and can be renewed.
Residence Permit G: EU/EFTA cross-border commuters. This permit is intended for those who work in Switzerland but live in a neighbouring country. It is dependent on the work permit and requires the person to return to their main place of residence abroad at least once a week.
Becoming a Swiss national
To become a Swiss national you can opt to go down one of two routes which are residential or through a relationship with a Swiss national. Going down the residency route requires you to have lived in Switzerland for 12 years. This can be shortened if you lived in the country before reaching 20 years of age.
The second route, the relationship option, is available to those with a Swiss spouse or parent. The required period to have lived in the country is much shorter – generally 1 year in the cases of children (must be under 22) or spouses (marriages must be at least 3 years old). There may be some deviations in the rules depending on the canton in which the person is based.
Be aware that by becoming a citizen of Switzerland you may face the possibility of being called up for military service.