Start a part-time bussiness with non-EU B permit

To keep things short:


- My contract is 70% in Switzerland, B-permit

- My employer doesn't want to increase it to 100% because there isn't that much of work load (actually the initial job ad was 40%, and they make it 70% just for me to get the permit, and I appreciated it very much)

- After spending almost half a year to find other jobs that can fill the 30% or make my contract 50% - 50%, I cannot find anything.

- I just don't want my time to be wasted as I'm in early 30s, and I actually can find clients for several part-time project.

As far as I know, non-EU B-permit holder cannot start a business in Switzerland. I'm having my German B1 exam this year and are applying for C. But before I finish all the paper work / application, is there any possibility that I can at least work with my 30% spare time?

(I lived in US before, and it is amazing to find that it seems to be not possible to do so in Switzerland... I mean, I can pay tax, contribute to the social work market, generate economic growth... but it is not allowed?)

Some possibilities I can think of:

- Talk to a swiss friends to start a small business together.

- Open a company in another EU country (not sure if I can then open business account in Switzerland...)

You can definitely do it with a C permit.

Is your B-permit tied to your employer, or is it open?

As NotAllThere said if your permit is tied to your employer - which is more than likely - then no, you cannot work for anyone else. You cannot be self-employed either.

If it is an open B then yes, you could find work elsewhere or be self-employed.

Also have you been in Switzerland for 5 or more years? If not, then you can’t apply for a C permit yet.

I agree with this. Unlike whether it's an open or closed permit, which is not listed on the permit itself or the letter that comes with it, whether you need permission to be self-employed will be listed on the letter that came with a permit and possibly on the permit itself (if I remember my last non-EU B correctly).

Yes, I've been hear for more than 5 years (3y Phd + 2.5year work). Will have my German test soon (highly change to pass B1), and will then apply for C permit.

So on my permit it is written: "Berechtigt zur Erwerbstätigkeit"

Is this an open one?

Check out what the letter says. And Erwerbstätigkeit only means you are allowed to work, not to be self employed.

Edit: my old B also said that so that is not the clue I ́m afraid.

Yes. Just realised on the back there is this "Selbst. Erwerbstatigkeit ist bewilligungspflichtig"...

OK. Then I guess I can only wait until my C permit is here.

This is a bit of pitty that I can do nothing about this situation, and constrained to only work less than half of my lifespan...

So, those customers can call your current employer and your workload goes up to 100% and maybe beyond. I guess the issue that the hourly rate your employer offers is above what said customers would be willing to pay, which is probably the hourly rate of a freelancer.

The other worry is that once the customers deal with your current employer, and then you take the customers with you after becoming independent, it won't look good no matter how you spin the story. So, it would be optimal the be independent right away.

Anyway, if cash flow today matters, put employer and potential customers in contact today

Thanks. But it was never about hourly rate...

It is more like project-based, where I finish one project within the time frame my potential client requires, and get some money. And this is hard to add to my current contract.

They say they might find other solutions to pay me, but I just don't want to risk if I can find a way to do this more properly.

Another option I was told is I can open a company somehow outside Switzerland, but then I need to deal with other issues like tax etc. and I don't want to do this before I can have a stable source of projects (By then I may be highly possible to have obtained the C permit).

Some updates here that may be helpful for others.

I emailed Migration Office to ask about if I can start a company, expecting a NO.

However, I got this reply:


So migration office is actually OK about my situation to set up a company?!

I'm going to email AWI to double check about it and update here.

I can understand this feeling! While you're trying to get permission to start a business, also check whether you would be permitted to work for another employer (perhaps in a different enough field from your current employer, so no conflict of interest).

In addition, don't waste the time, but use any non-working hours (while you're waiting) improving your German, and researching (here on this forum for a range of views, but better still, official info) everything about starting a business, e.g. compulsory insurances, the business's obligations as an employer, liability, formal steps to open (and to close) a business, required investement in equipment, how to manage separate types of income taxation, VAT, etc. In many cases, someone starting a business will need good German to sort all this out correctly.

Good luck!

Thank you very much for the words!

Yes, I'm working on German actively and will have my B1 test on the first half of this year, then C-permit application.

I was a bit late on this as I was not sure about if I want to stay in Switzerland until last year (before there was an opportunity in the US).

Since I got the unexpected YES answer from the migration office, I'll start to actively pushing it now. This in short term won't change anything, but it fundamentally changed my view towards the future and is a good sign.

Update of this topic:

I got the answer from AWI last week.

Here is the summary:

1. I can have a company set up, but cannot work for it since my B does not allow me to be "self-employed" -- make money by my own.

2. They're not sure whether I can hire a person to work for it. I need to ask a lawyer for more certain answers.

So, to conclude on this thread, I think the best way is to get the C as soon as possible, and build things gradually little by little.