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One needs to understand the following:
Family reunification allows a holder of an original right to stay under migration law (in this case, a holder of a residence permit for educational purposes) to bring family members to Switzerland. This is referred to as a (derived) right to stay for members of the student’s family. There is confusion about the distinct perspectives of the holder of the original right and the holder of the derived right. In this section, the right to family reunification is considered from the point of view of the student, that is, the holder of the original right to stay. This guide does not consider those intending to study with a “derived” residence permit, which is a different area. This guide does not address the latter.

Any person who has a residence permit resulting from their right to free movement has the right to family reunification, regardless of the duration of their stay.

This means that students with an EU/EFTA residence permit for educational purposes (original right of residence) can bring their family members to Switzerland with them (derived right of residence). Those persons granted a residence permit as a derived right do not need to be EU/EFTA nationals.

According to AFMP students can apply to the authorities for a derived right to stay for the following persons:

  • their spouse (or registered partner if they are of the same sex)
  • their dependent children (under 18 years of age)

Legal basis: Art. 3 para. 2 let. annex I c AFMP ;

The AFMP and the ECHR make it possible to broaden the notion of family member under certain conditions. One should seek out information for each individual case.

Specific questions arise when a student wishes to bring over their spouse/registered partner who has children from a former union. In those instances, we are referring to partial family reunification. One should seek out information for each individual case.

The family must be able to prove that it has “suitable” accommodation.

The concept of appropriate accommodation implies having access to an adequately sized living space based on a defined ratio of the number of residents to the number of rooms.

This ratio is set in federal regulations as: the number of residents = the number of rooms -1.

However, in Geneva, unlike other regions in Switzerland, the kitchen counts as a room. Therefore the number of rooms must be at least equal to the maximum number of residents.1.

Furthermore, the requirement for sufficient financial means to cover the duration of stay still applies. Therefore, a student with an original right to stay needs to credibly demonstrate that they have sufficient means taking into account their family dependents.

The rights attached to the derived residence permit are both linked and equivalent to those of the main residence permit.

  1. ATA/685/2014 19 August 2014 c. 7.