FAQS

Before contacting us, try to find the answers to your questions below. 

 

 

General rules

 

Non-European students are not allowed to work during the first six months of their stay in Switzerland.
European students can start working immediately upon their arrival in Switzerland.

Work activity during your studies:

Students can work up to 15 hours per week (37.5%) during the course period and 40 hours (100%) during the official academic holidays. See the academic calendar to know the dates of each period. An exception can be made for students who are getting ECTS for their internship and who are on their 4th semester. Contact career@graduateinstitute.ch for more information.

PhD students can work 20 hours per week if the work is directly related to the thesis. The position must also be in the Institute (teaching assistants and research assistants). If these conditions are not met, students are only allowed to work up to 15 hours per week.
For more information about teaching and research assistants, please visit the Assistant Association (ADA).

Work authorisation

A work authorisation is mandatory to start an activity, whether paid or not. Once you have found an employer, you must gather and complete the following documents:

  • E form

    • Select "activité accessoire" for internships/jobs up to 15h per week

    • Select "stage dans le cadre des études" for internships validated as ECTS (important: make sure you include the ECTS validation attestation in your OCPM request)

    • Ask your employer to sign the form

  • Copy of your passport

  • Copy of your current B permit

  • An attestation from the Career Services confirming the internship/employment is compatible with your studies

  • Proof of payment of fee* (CHF 65 for European citizens and  CHF 95 for non-European citizens)

Send your request before the start of the work activity to the OCPM per post or in person. (Important: if you are interning for a permanent mission or an IGO you must go in person).

 

You can send or drop your work authorisation application at:

Office cantonal de la population et des migrations (OCPM)
Service des étrangers
Route de Chancy 88
Case Postale 2652
1211 Genève 2

*Some employers do support students with the fee payment related to the work authorisation. Make sure you clarify this with your employer. OCPM banking details are available at the bottom of the E form.

Important information: if your contract with an employer gets extended, you do not have to ask for another work authorisation as long as your student B permit is valid until the end of your contract.

Information on Visa and residence permit

 

Residence permit extension
 

After graduation, you can extend your student residence permit for a period of six months according to the Neirynck law, in order to find a job in line with your degree. This period is non renewable and the work permit thereafter cannot be guaranteed.

During this six-month period, you will receive a permit L however you can only work for a maximum of 15 hours per week. These six months should give you time to find a job in line with your degree, but do not replace a work permit. To work beyond the 15-hour limit, your potential employer will need to request a work permit. This request may be denied by the Swiss authorities.

To extend your student residence permit, you must provide the following documents 3-4 weeks before your student residence permit expires:

  • Form K 

    • Select "renouvellement/prolongation"

  • Copy of your passport

  • Copy of your current permit B

  • Copy of official transcripts

  • Your CV

  • A letter from the Career Services confirming you graduated from the Institute and requesting your student permit extension (send an email to career@graduateinstitute.ch with "student permit extension letter" in the subject line)

  • Proof of financial means (there is no minimum required, but you should have enough in your account to cover the period)

  • Proof of residence (housing contract or letter from landlord)

  • Proof of payment of fee (CHF 65 for European citizens and CHF 102 for non-European citizens)

Important information: if you already have an employer for a job/internship for maximum 15 hours a week, you will need a work authorisation. You should add the following documents to your student permit extension request:

  • Ask your employer to sign Form K (you can use the same form for both permit extension and work authorisation request)

  • Work contract

  • Letter signed by yourself explaining that you are applying for a permit extension in line with the Neirynck Law and that you are requesting the "autorisation pour l'exercice d'une activité accessoire" of 15 hours per week during this period

The student permit extension request should be sent by post to the OCPM:
Office cantonal de la population et des migrations (OCPM)
Service des étrangers
Case Postale 2652
1211 Genève 2

*OCPM banking details are available at the bottom of the K form. You can make your payment via ebanking or by payment slip. Please indicate your name, first name, date of birth and the reason for your request.

OCAS

 

During the course of your studies, you might receive a letter from OCAS (Cantonal Social Insurance Office) asking you to pay their contribution towards de AVS, AI and APG insurances.

The Cantonal Social Insurance Office (OCAS) is an autonomous institution governed by public law which coordinates the activities of the Geneva Compensation Fund and those of the Invalidity Insurance Office. Their mission is to ensure that everyone is insured against the economic consequences of age, disability, illness, unemployment, maternity, orphanhood and widowhood. This results in the collection (contributions) and payment (benefits) of 1st pillar social insurance in order to cover the vital needs of the insured.

Contributing to the Old Age and Survivor Insurance (AVS), Disability Insurance (AI) and Loss of Income Insurance (APG) is compulsory for anyone having a civil domicile or working in Switzerland.

Civil domicile is the place where the person lives with the intention to stay permanently. Students who come to Switzerland with the only intention of pursuing studies are not considered to have their civil domicile in Switzerland.

Students may therefore be exempt from paying fees:

  • Should they prove with a certificate from their employer or a compensation fund that they have already made contributions of at least CHF 503 out of their income or on their Loss of Income Allowances;
  • Should they be staying in Switzerland only for study purposes;
  • Should their spouse be affiliated with the Swiss AVS/AI/APG and have paid at least twice the minimum required contribution (CHF 1’006).

Other than the above mentioned cases, from the age of 20, Swiss and foreign students domiciled in Switzerland are required to pay an annual fee of CHF 503.00 (minimum contribution) to the AVS/AI/APG. Administrative costs are added to this amount.

Students who are working start paying fees as of January 1st of the year following their 17th birthday.

Students working who have paid fees of less than CHF 503 (minimum contribution) per year out of their income must only pay the balance.

Students concerned must provide OCAS with a copy of their salary certificate so that OCAS can correct the amount of contributions and send them a new invoice.

Information as to the amount of contributions to be paid is sent directly to students from the Compensation Fund of the Social Insurance Office (OCAS).

If you receive the letter from OCAS with the request for payment your contribution towards the AVS/AI/APG, and you do not have your civil domicile in Switzerland and have not worked in Switzerland, it will suffice to write back to OCAS stating that you are a student in Switzerland who came only for the purpose of conducting studies at The Graduate Institute, enclose the enrolment attestation you have available on Campus and a copy of your Student B permit issued by OCPM. Students with a legitimation card (carte de légitimation) issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs may be exempted from paying membership fees by sending OCAS a copy of the card.

In order to contact OCAS, please send an email to etudiants@ocas.ch indicating (as provided on the letter you will receive) your "n° affilié" and "n° AVS(NSS)".

More information on OCAS and its implications for students can be found (in French) here: https://www.ocas.ch/avs/cotisations/etudiants/


Office cantonal des assurances sociales
Rue des Gares 12
Case postale 2696
1211 Genève 2
+41 22 327 27 27

Please contact studentreception@graduateinstitute.ch if you need further assistance.

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