Work permits are usually linked to residency permits. There are different types of residency permit – depending on nationality, type of employment contract, the industry in which you work and demand in the Liechtenstein labour market.
EU citizens now have:
• free choice of residency and employment;
• the right to change jobs and employers (job mobility);
• the right to bring their family to Liechtenstein;
• a right to work for their family members.
Non-EU citizens can only get a work permit if their employer proves that they could not fill the respective position with a Liechtenstein or EU citizen. This can become a complex and bureaucratic process for both employer and employee. There are some exceptions to this rule for highly qualified/specialised and/or top executive management positions.
If an employer wants to hire you, he must send you an official offer of employment. If you accept the offer, your employer then applies for a residence permit in the local canton’s police section for foreigners. If a residence permit is approved, your employer sends you a ‘pre-authorisation for a residency permit’ (Zusicherung der Aufenthaltsbewilligung) in addition to your employment contract. On arrival in Liechtenstein, you present this document in the formal application for the actual residency permit.
The process of work permit application can take several months and there are no guarantees that a permit will be issued. An employer might say they will be able to get a permit, but the ultimate decision will be made by the Liechtenstein authorities. The decision on whether or not a permit will be granted depends on a variety of changing criteria such as the type of job, your qualifications, nationality etc. Within the limits prescribed legally, individual cantonal authorities have a large degree of freedom, so the ultimate decision could depend on the mood an official is in when your application is examined.