Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Friday, November 03, 2006

After all... tomorrow is another day

Not that it necessarily improves matters.

Yesterday, while trying to find out more about Swiss residency permits, I'd come across a company that specializes in obtaining them. "You don't need to be a movie star to live in Switzerland," they claimed. "Call us for a free consulation."

So, first thing this morning - 6 AM! - I rang them up and explained my situation.

"I'm sorry," the lady with the not-quite-French accent said. "For you, it's impossible. Switzerland no longer gives permits to Americans."

"None at all?"

"Non."

"But my boyfriend is Swiss."

That earned me an impatient tsk. "If you are not married, that does not help."

"Isn't it possible to start a business, or something along those lines, the way your website suggests?"

"Non," she replied with grim finality. "Not for Americans."

A hurry-up-you're-keeping-me-from-lunch tone had crept into her voice. So, realizing that I wouldn't get any more information out of her, I hung up.

After moping around the apartment for a couple of hours while the rest of New York woke up, I plodded out to engage in some retail therapy at the farmer's market. By the time I got back, it was after 9, so I tried the Swiss consulate in New York. No love there, either: yes, someone was available to answer questions Monday through Friday, but only between 2-4 PM. By that point I'd started wondering if anyone in the country worked. No wonder they were so keen to keep everyone else out.

By the time the clock read 2:00, I'd gone through a pot of coffee and an enormous cheese danish from my favorite stall, and I'd worn down the floorboards in my hallway from all my pacing back and forth. When I called again, I half-expected to get the answer machine. But to my surprise, someone picked up immediately. I was even more surprised when that someone proved sympathetic.

"I know how you feel," the Swiss lady said. "I've been doing the reverse arrangement for years."

Though she couldn't tell me the odds that I would receive one, she encouraged me to apply for a visa, and include all the documentation to show that Swissy Pie and I are in a serious, long-term relationship. Get affidavits, she suggested, and copies of his passport, as well as any other evidence of your life together.

Dating 5+ years would have been ideal, but factors like co-habitation, his Swiss citizenship, etc. are all supposedly helpful. It's also nice to know that if I'm turned down, it doesn't affect my chances of getting a work-related permit. (Though she didn't know whether it was possible to convert this residence visa to a work one.)

Ultimately, she didn't really tell me too much that I didn't already know, and my odds of getting the visa are probably still close to zero. But it was nice to hear advice from someone who acted as if she cared.

Guess what I'll spend the weekend doing?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Jessica Brogan said...

Hi there,

I am going through much the same thing as you. I moved here...I say moved because I intended to stay...in June. So I spent my three months, and then my month abroad, and then a month away, now I'm in the end of my final three month period. Since being here means I cannot work (yes, they are strick about permits. If you want a job permit, you have to get the job WHILE in America, and have that company sponsor you)I essentially can't return. Unless we get married. So, we're currently discussing how to get married, for the visa, just so that we can continue to live together without issue so that we can spend time to get to the point where we will...get married?!

I wish you all the best in getting through all this. If you have any questions, maybe I can spare you some weekend hours.

PS - my boyfriend uses one universal type of adaptor...so you should be fine with that.

November 13, 2006 at 10:05 PM  

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