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

A nasty surprise

Since I've been back in New York, I've been busily looking into moving-related issues - getting quotes, figuring out how to sublet my apartment, etc. Until today, when it occured to me to double-check Swiss residence requirements. And boy, was a nasty surprise waiting for me.

I'd assumed that Switzerland's requirements for residence permits would be similar to Germany's: show that you can support yourself, and you're good to stay (though not necessarily to work). Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong. To get a residency permit, one should:
  1. Be at least 60 years old and very, very wealthy. (I'm guessing on the private banking level, not merely "mass affluent.") Or
  2. Marry a Swiss national or someone else with a Class-C permanent residence permit. Then one is courteously exempted from the foreigner quota restrictions, though one can still be denied permission to live. Or
  3. Get a job, apply for a Class-B temporary residence permit from one's home country, and pray. Or
  4. Invest lots of money into a Swiss business, or into starting up a Swiss business.
Damn. Not married, not old, and not feeling very entrepreneurial. I guess I have to land a job. This could take a while. As the website of the Swiss embassy in Washington states:

"The very restrictive immigration policy of the Swiss Government has made it extremely difficult to obtain residence permits for employment. As a rule, only individuals who have been offered jobs which cannot be filled by Swiss nationals have a chance of obtaining residence permits." (emphasis added)
They might as well have said, "Americans, don't bother." Even better, it's recently gotten even more difficult to get a job, because due to a treaty with the EU, that bit about "Swiss nationals" has been changed to "Swiss or EU nationals." What's more, it takes 6-8 weeks to process an application once it's submitted. And did I mention that each canton has a quota for foreign residents?

It could be a long, long time before I get to move in with Swissy Pie.


Now what?

I could go there without a job, but I can only live there for 3 months at a time, 6 months out of the year, with at least 1 month in between exits and re-entries. After the first month of each visit, I have to register with the police. This sucks, but I suppose it's better than nothing.

Tomorrow I'll call the Swiss consulate to make sure I understand this all correctly. And then I guess I'll start applying as fast as my little fingers can type.

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Blogger Jessica Brogan said...

Hmm, I NEVER registered with any police.

November 13, 2006 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

I guess you're supposed to, but a lot of people don't.

November 14, 2006 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger sermin said...

I heard about it when I was divorcing with my first husband. I had B permit but it is cancelled when I divorced. I am from Turkey and my current husband is a US guy. We both want to live in Switzerland so I have a plan to sell my house in Istanbul so I can put that money in a Swiss bank account so I can get right to ask for permit. If you get any details wuld you please let me know. My process won't begin so soon as I am waiting for my temporary green card. I think I step for this after 3 years by now. Good Luck Un-Swiss-Miss...

July 20, 2008 at 8:41 PM  

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