International students must obtain a student visa to study in Switzerland. However, certain rules apply depending on the student’s home country.
There are different types of student visas depending on the duration of your stay. You may also get additional permits if you wish to work while studying.
Considering all these, it’s important to arrange your student visa early. Processing time may take a while so you need enough time to submit requirements.
Here’s a quick guide on how to apply for a student visa in Switzerland:
Who Needs a Student Visa
If you’re from an EU or EFTA country, you won’t need a student visa to study in Switzerland. But if you wish to stay longer than three months, you must register with the cantonal authority.
From there, you can get a residence permit. Remember that you must get this within the first two weeks of your arrival.
If you’re a non-EU/EFTA student, you need a student visa to enter Switzerland. Upon arrival, you must get a residence permit.
You can apply for two types of visas depending on the length of your stay/study.
- Schengen Visa – This is a short-term visa that allows you to study in Switzerland for up to three months.
- National Visa – Obtain this visa if you’re studying for a full-time academic degree.
Where to Apply for a Student Visa
You can apply for a Schengen Visa online. It will take around 15 days to process.
For a National Visa, you must apply in person to the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in your country. Processing time takes about 8–10 weeks.
Student Visa Document Requirements
You must prepare and present the following documents at the Swiss Embassy:
- Letter of acceptance from your university
- Proof of payment for school fees
- Completed student visa application form
- Proof of sufficient funds
- Passport-size photographs (four copies)
- Motivation letter/s
- CV or Resume
- Written statement stating that you intend to leave Switzerland after completing your studies
Besides these requirements, you must also prove that you have a high command of English. To apply for a student visa, you don’t need to pass an English test. But taking one is certainly useful for schools.
There are unique cases where the embassy may assess your language skills. You might take an oral or written test.
General Steps in Applying for a Student Visa
Remember that applying for a national visa can take up to 10 weeks. You must apply as soon as you get your letter of acceptance. Better yet, book for a student visa interview six months before the start of your classes.
- Receive your letter of acceptance from a Swiss university
- Pay fees and/or deposits for your admission
- Book for an interview with the Swiss Embassy or Consulate
- Prepare and submit the required documents
- Appear for your scheduled interview
- Wait for a decision
Foreign students need a visa to enter Switzerland and study there. For more information about requirements to study in Switzerland, visit MSM Unify and read our resources.