Marriage does not automatically mean that the foreign spouse receives a residence permit for Switzerland. Indeed, the couple must obtain permission from the competent migration authority for the foreign partner to remain in Switzerland. This process is called family reunification. Whether family reunification is possible or not depends both on the residence status of the person in Switzerland and the person abroad. The same provisions apply to the family reunification of civil partners in accordance with Article 52 of the FNIA. The following section provides an overview of the requirements for family reunification according to nationality.
Foreign spouses and single children (under the age of 18) of Swiss nationals are entitled to the issuance and extension of a residence permit if they live together (Article 42, FNIA). The following also applies:
For foreign family members of Swiss nationals who are in possession of a settlement permit from a country with which an agreement on the free movement of persons has been agreed (EU and EFTA member states), the conditions regarding the eligible persons and the requirements for joining the family differ. For them, the following persons are considered family members:
The following applies for both groups:
Children, under the age of 21, and parents, whose income is guaranteed, from an EU or EFTA country are entitled to family reunification within the framework for the free movement of people. This applies regardless of the nationality of the family members.
According to Article 43, paragraph 1 of the FNIA, the foreign spouse and unmarried children under 18 of a person with a settlement permit are entitled to be granted a residence permit and to have their residence permit extended provided:
According to Article 44, paragraph 1 of the FNIA, the foreign spouse and unmarried children under 18 of a person with a residence permit may be granted a residence permit or an extension thereof if:
According to Article 45, paragraph 1 of the FNIA, foreign spouses and unmarried children under 18 of a person with a short stay permit may be granted a short stay permit, if:
According to Article 47 of the FNIA, the right to family reunification must be exercised within 5 years. Children over 12 must be reunified with their family within 12 months. For family members of Swiss nationals, the time limits begin upon their entry into Switzerland or the establishment of the family relationship, and for foreign nationals upon the granting of the residence or settlement permit or the establishment of the family relationship.
The time limits do not apply for family members of EU citizens. Subsequent family reunification will only be granted if significant reasons are given.