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In case of divorce or death: right of foreign spouses and children to stay in Switzerland

Are you a foreign national and have been granted a residence permit under the family reunification programme? In certain circumstances, divorced or widowed spouses and their children can stay in Switzerland following a divorce or the death of one of the parents.

You have a residence permit (permit B)

EU/EFTA citizens

If you are from an EU/EFTA state you can apply for your own residence permit if your marriage ends (either through divorce, death or annulment) provided:

  • you are employed or
  • you have sufficient financial means to meet your living requirements in Switzerland.

Persons from non-EU/EFTA states

A divorced spouse’s or child’s existing residence permit may be extended provided:

  • the marriage lasted at least three years in Switzerland and the spouse / family lived together,
  • the persons concerned were successfully integrated in Switzerland (reputation, knowledge of the language, willingness to work) or
  • important personal circumstances make it necessary to continue living in Switzerland (e.g. persecution in their home country).

You have a settlement permit (permit C)

Spouses and children over 12 years old who have come to Switzerland under the family reunification scheme obtain a settlement permit after five years of continuous residence in this country. They also have the right to settle in Switzerland following a divorce or after the spouse’s death.