One vital area that you need to think about when applying to Swiss schools is the question of a student visa. If your child has a European passport then usually no visa is required. We recommend that you check carefully whether your child will need a Swiss student visa. This is important as the visa process can be very slow and drawn out, sometimes taking up to 3 months to be issued. It is therefore very important that students who require visas complete all their application formalities at least 3 or 4 months prior to the start of the school year. Most nationalities that are not part of Europe will require a visa (including USA, Canada, and Australia). For these passport holders, a tourist visa, a Schengen visa, or a residence permit from another European country will not be sufficient and a full Swiss student visa will be required. We will do what we can to help you, but please note that we are not able to speed up the process once it is underway and so leaving this matter to the last minute could cause your child serious problems and maybe a late start at the school. If your family is relocating to this area and your child will be a day student then you will need to obtain a family residence permit. It is very important that you are living legally in the Canton if your child is a student in the school since the authorities will check with us about the residence status of each of our pupils.
Further Visa information
For most non-European passport holders you will need to apply for a Swiss student visa in order to study in this country. This is true for North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Russia plus a number of former Soviet Union countries (not Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) the Far East (not Japan) and Australia.
Please note that a Schengen visa is not sufficient for studying in Switzerland. If you have residence in another EU country but do not have a suitable passport, your child will still require a Swiss student visa. See below for a list of countries which do NOT require visas (as Swiss regulations may change from time to time, this list may not always be up-to-date and we advise you to check when in doubt).
For families coming from a country (e.g. USA) which does not require a tourist visa, please be careful to note that your child may still require a student visa to be eligible to study in this country.
If your child is a boarding student then we will provide a letter confirming enrolment for you to present to the Swiss Embassy/Consulate in your own country. The Embassy may also ask you for proof that you have paid the school’s fees before issuing the visa. When your child is a day student, it is the responsibility of the family to obtain a family residence permit in their commune of residence and the school cannot do this for you.
The student visa, when issued, is normally valid for 3 months. You will need to hand this immediately to the school on arrival and the school will then obtain a Swiss residence B permit which is valid for one year. The good news is that the school renews the residence permit for you each year and so you do not need to apply for the visa again in subsequent years.
COUNTRIES WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE A SWISS STUDENT VISA
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK.