Unofficial Handout: Information on Residence Permits
What is an L Permit?
The L permit is a shortterm residence permit. Shortterm residents are foreign nationals who are resident in Switzerland for a limited period of time – usually less than a year – for a certain purpose with or without gainful employment.
What is a B Permit and How Can I Get One?
The B permit is a residence permit for thirdcountry nationals. Resident foreign nationals are foreign nationals who are resident in Switzerland for a longer period of time (> 1 year) for a certain purpose with or without gainful employment.
If I Received an L Permit, How Can I:
Find an Apartment?
In principle it is possible to rent many apartments; only very few landlords exclude people holding an L permit a priori. It is possible that one will be at a disadvantage with respect to other people that have “better” permits, however. But factors such as income, employer or personal assets can also play an important role. The ETH is regarded as a reliable employer. Therefore, it should definitely be possible to find an apartment. The aforementioned problems can be avoided to a large extent if one decides to apply for a room in a shared apartment. Permit information is very rarely requested in those instances.
Open a Bank Account and Receive a Credit Card?
It is possible to open an account at all banks and to receive a maestro card (sometimes with certain requirements, e.g. at UBS it is required to have a minimum account balance of 200 CHF at all times). Exception: Postfinance. At Postfinance, it is only possible (even for Swiss citizens) to receive a “postfinance card”. With this card, it is possible to make cashless payments and withdraw cash everywhere in Switzerland. It is also possible to withdraw cash abroad at all ATM machines that have a VISAPLUS function (which is pretty much all of them). In order to open an account you should, at any rate, bring the following documents: your residence permit, a copy of your “Meldebestätigung” and a copy of your work contract. It can also be helpful to have a letter of recommendation from your professor. It is more difficult to receive a credit card. As of July 6th 2009, you can: • Receive a credit card at Credit Suisse.
Only apply for a credit card at UBS if you have received at least three monthly salaries.
Only receive a credit card at ZKB if your salary is high enough (this will be verified in your application, unfortunately they did not specify the exact amount). • Receive a credit card at Postfinance without further difficulties. However, you will not receive a maestro card but a postfinance card (for explanation see above). If your credit card application is rejected, it is advisable to apply for one at a different company (i.e. American Express or Diner's Club). If this attempt also fails, it is advisable to apply for a prepaid credit card (this application should be accepted in any case). A prepaid credit card has the same functions as a normal credit card, the only difference being that you have to charge the card prior to use with the necessary amount. A good offer for a card can be found at www.cornercard.ch. Finally, it should be mentioned that it is probably possible to receive a credit card at any bank if you invest enough time (i.e. letters of recommendation, evidence of personal assets, talking to the manager, etc.).
Get a Cell Phone?
It is not possible to get a cell phone contract with an L permit. However, one can easily purchase a cell phone and a prepaid card. Reasonably priced offers can be found at www.orangeclick.ch, at Migros (MBudget) or at AldiSuisse.