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Old 11.02.2013, 15:37
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Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

My husband got a job offer from ETH Zurich 8 weeks ago. He is currently finishing his PhD. here in North America, and is expected to defend (present his thesis) at the end of April. We were told by ETH that he could apply with a letter from his current institute that states his expected graduate date, and that this letter would be sufficient. Now, 6 weeks after applying, we are informed that in fact an actual Ph.D. degree is needed for them to issue him a work permit. So although we were told his start date would be in May it will probably take AT LEAST 2 months after his defence for his current institute to issue a formal letter (signed by dean) saying he has completed his Ph.D.
So my question is, is it common to require the actual degree before being issued a work permit?
I am Swiss and really thought that it would be *a bit* easier for him to get a work permit. I don't mean to sound snobby, but I'm just so frustrated.
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Old 11.02.2013, 16:07
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

I'm not positive, but I think the fact you are Swiss would help tremendously if you were actually living in CH. Since you're not, he doesn't get any special consideration and has to jump through all the non-EU hoops.
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Old 11.02.2013, 17:27
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Immediately after his defense, can he get a letter from his school saying he has defended successfully and his thesis has been accepted, pending the formal letter.

Here, I had a letter from my Swiss university stating the same, which was sufficient for work permit processing. My degree certificate followed some months later after the formal completion of all requirements.

I cant promise this will work, since these things vary canton to canton, but its worth a shot.

Edit: Since you are Swiss, and he has a offer from ETH, as an alternative you could move here and then process his family reunion. Dont know which will take longer though, since I assume you wont have a job to start with, and you may be asked how you will support him, even with his offer from ETH.
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Old 11.02.2013, 17:31
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Sorry to hear about your troubles, I can't offer any advice but I do have a question for you as i am in the same position, am finishing a phd and have been offered a post doc in Switzerland. did you wait until you got the work contract from the university to apply for the visa? I haven't applied for the visa yet, only just got my offer. I defend in early April.
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Old 11.02.2013, 21:42
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Thank you all for your input.
To answer some questions:
- We did not proceed with applying for visa/work permit from over here, it was all being done through the employer. We were actually advised NOT to do anything from our side until they approve the work permit.
- Yes, as it stands my husband will probably be able to acquire a letter stating that he completed his defence successfully right after the defence. I just don't know how long after we submit the letter to the employer in CH that we need to wait? Anyone know?
- We can apply for family reunion even though I am here with him (according to my local swiss consulate). Which baffles me, because as I read the application it made it sound like I should be there (as previous poster mentioned). This would take about 4 months.
That's all I remember in terms of your questions. Thanks again for taking the time to read this. I really wish I just had some answers at to how long these things take.

Thank you.
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Old 12.02.2013, 20:22
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Back to my time a couple of years ago, it took me 1 month to get things done - easy thing don't worry!
POstdoc position comes with a special permit that is not counted in the quote but it is not an open B. As you are Swiss, this does not impact much on him.
ETHZ is right you don't need to do anything until they inform you. Then you bring all these plus visa application form to local consulate - about a week to get the Visa, if everything is satisfied.



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Thank you all for your input.
To answer some questions:
- We did not proceed with applying for visa/work permit from over here, it was all being done through the employer. We were actually advised NOT to do anything from our side until they approve the work permit.
- Yes, as it stands my husband will probably be able to acquire a letter stating that he completed his defence successfully right after the defence. I just don't know how long after we submit the letter to the employer in CH that we need to wait? Anyone know?
- We can apply for family reunion even though I am here with him (according to my local swiss consulate). Which baffles me, because as I read the application it made it sound like I should be there (as previous poster mentioned). This would take about 4 months.
That's all I remember in terms of your questions. Thanks again for taking the time to read this. I really wish I just had some answers at to how long these things take.

Thank you.
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  #7  
Old 18.02.2013, 08:14
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

My Husband went for a job interview with Auwerx in July (2 months before finishing his Ph.D) and they couldn't/wouldn't start his visa application until he did his defence. But it only took 6 weeks for him to get his visa and EPFL understood that and pushed his start date.
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Old 18.03.2013, 16:54
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Were you able to resolve your issue? I'm curious as to why you weren't able to get the visa without having done your defense. I picked up my visa last week for a postdoc position, but my defense still isn't for another few weeks....
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Old 18.03.2013, 16:57
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

You aren't going to get your visa until you are done your defence.
If you don't pass your defence, then they would of issued a visa for 'no reason'

it wont happen
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Old 18.03.2013, 17:05
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

I agree, I was surprised when mine came through, I was actually expecting to be told I was going to be told to re-apply once I'd done my defense, but I got it...maybe the person reviewing my file hadn't had their coffee yet when they looked it over...
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Old 18.03.2013, 17:07
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

I'm very surprised, but glad to hear it worked out for you!
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Old 18.03.2013, 17:09
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Yes, thanks. Now all I need is to figure out how to navigate the Swiss housing market...I'm not expecting that to be as easy...
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Old 18.03.2013, 17:16
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Me and my husband came a month early. We visited I think 20 different places and applied to about 15 of them.
We didn't understand why we kept getting rejected, my husband makes 80,000CHF a year here and about 75,000CAD so a combined income of about 150,000CHF. We thought that would be enough money for a company and to rent a one bedroom.
We heard that some companies wanted EPFL to sign for liability (which is the stupest thing I have ever heard) but finally, we got a one bedroom apartment after visiting the office about 7 times and my husband speaking in french, assuring them of everything to make it seem like we were prefect for the place (we own 2 condos in Toronto and he was president of the board of directors at the condo we lived in and rent out the other) Which really impressed the guy. Other then that, we just had to get my husband's boss to assure that we would be here for 3 years (I guess people in Switzerland won't rent as a one year lease)
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Old 18.03.2013, 19:53
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Thanks for your replies everyone. Happy that for some of you things worked out more easily than for others.
We still haven't received my husband's visa, and are simply waiting for him to defend. He then needs to get a letter saying he successfully defended and we can then start the process of applying for a visa. I don't understand why that is the case, because not everyone has the choice to stay on in their lab for 2-3 months post their defence.
To the above poster who mentioned that they already got the visa although they haven't defended yet: What country are you applying from? Just curious

I don't mean to sound conceited but I honestly hoped the fact that I'm Swiss would make things a bit easier, but apparently that's not the case. Oh well, c'est la vie.
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Old 18.03.2013, 19:58
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

My husband applied from Canada.

Good luck!
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Old 18.03.2013, 20:38
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

I applied from the US, everything took about 3.5 weeks only.
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Old 18.03.2013, 20:42
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Maybe it's a Zurich vs. Vaud difference?
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Old 18.03.2013, 20:51
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

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Maybe it's a Zurich vs. Vaud difference?
Perhaps! I can't imagine another explanation. The Swiss consulate here said they could speed up the process only if they have a written job offer, but we don't have that because according to them they do not issue a witten job offer until after your defence.

I hope all works out in the end... Worst case scenario we relocate to Toronto, which isn't too shabby either (we live in Hamilton now- nickname: Steel City )
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Old 18.03.2013, 20:53
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

Yes, good luck to you.

I had a contract from the University, so I'm sure that helped...
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Old 18.03.2013, 21:08
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Re: Post Doc. in Zurich (Work Visa Issues)

If you have not defended your thesis, it is sometimes possible to be hired on a PhD contract (and wage) until you complete. If the funding and position is strictly designed for a postdoc however, then this may not be an option. The defense (and possible corrections and further work) are not a trivial matter and can drag on for some time.
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