Legal basis: Art. 27 para. 3 FNIA in conjunction with Art. 5 para. 2 FNIA
Until 31 December 2010, students had to provide assurance that they would leave Switzerland (Art. 27 para. d (former) FNIA). This obligation was lifted after a parliamentary initiative aiming to “facilitate the admission and integration of foreign nationals with a Swiss higher education degree”1.
However, the authorities (the SEM) continue to require that applicants for residence permits for education purposes provide assurances of departure when they submit their initial applications or requests for renewal. They must do so via their cover letter which outlines a broader life project that involves leaving Switzerland.
The Federal Administrative Court (FAC) makes a distinction between students who are studying at Swiss higher education institutions and those who are not2. In the first case, the assurance that one will leave Switzerland is not required. In the second, it is.
The FAC follows this reasoning because a parliamentary initiative also amended Art. 21 para. 3 of the FNIA to allow graduates of Swiss higher education institutions to be granted a six-month stay after their studies in order to look for a job (see section on converting a permit).
This commitment to leave has no legal weight per se3. Thus, a student who has committed to leaving Switzerland will not incur any sanctions if they obtain the right to permanent residence by a different means, for example, through family reunification if they get married.