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Old 09.01.2015, 17:00
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work permit in CH for American citizens

Hi there,

I wonder if this question already exists on the forum.
Many already know the rules for employment for non-EU citizens. I wonder if a US citizen wants to work in Switzerland, the following offical "rule" strictly applies? and if so, how strict they are about this rule below? The reason I am asking is that it does not make sense to me, because there is ALWAYS a Swiss or EU citizen available somewhere who can do the same job as, say, the American, or non-EU person..... or am I not getting something? does anyone have experience or know more? (I personally happen to speak German & French fluently, so I could qualify for many jobs, it is it a matter of knowing the languages)


Third state nationals may only be admitted if a person can not be recruited from the labour market of Switzerland or another EU/EFTA member state. Swiss citizens, foreign nationals with a longterm residence permit or a residence permit allowing employment, as well as all citizens from those countries with which Switzerland has concluded the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (at present, the EU and EFTA states) are given priority. Employers must prove that they have not been able to recruit a suitable employee from this priority category, despite intensive efforts.
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Old 09.01.2015, 17:15
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

You'll find that the Swiss authorities don't work in gray areas. You either fit the rules or you don't. There are many members of the Forum that are non-EU (American and otherwise) that have managed to find jobs, so it is not totally impossible. But you'll have better chances if you have local language skills and a special work skill that sets you apart from the rest.

This thread has some helpful info including links to what an employer has to do to hire you:
Work permit for US-Citizens

Edit - To be clear, you have to land the job first (sign a contract) and then you apply for/receive the work permit. You don't get the work permit and then move here to find a job.
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Old 09.01.2015, 17:34
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

To add to the hurdles you face as a non-EU, your blue passport is another. Americans are particularly toxic these days.

I know of several companies that no longer hire Americans, in fact one goes farther - if the only candidate qualifed and willing to do the job is an American the job is then moved to the US rather than trying to bring the American to Switzerland. The difficulty of getting a permit for a non-EU along with the tax/compliance baggage an American brings make is almost impossible to justify the time and expense. Easier to move the job.

Now there will be other posters along with opposite experiences. You will soon see that nothing in Switzerland is set in stone, and everything is subject to local interpretation.

Be aware, though, that the quota for non-EU folks has been cut steeply. There are only 6500 non-EU permits this year, so competition will be fierce, both among candidates for jobs and among employers for permit slots. For an American to successfully land a job in Switzerland, you'likely need to be the best of the best in a unique market with a significant track record behind you - or highly connected.

It's not impossible - but don't underestimate the barriers.

Wishing you all the best.
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Old 09.01.2015, 17:39
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

Yes, it does apply very strictly. Why should Americans be treated any differently than any other non-EU national?

As there are several thousand Americans and other non-EUs working here it's obviously possible to be hired. You just need to be highly qualified/specialised enough for it to happen. If you look further down the page you quoted from you'll find this:

Cadre, specialists and other qualified employees will be admitted. "Qualified employee" means, first and foremost, people with a degree from a university or institution of higher education as well as several years of professional experience. Depending on the profession or field of specialisation, other people with special training and several years of professional work experience may also be admitted.

https://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home...zulassung.html

Which is why it's not just a matter of knowing a Swiss language although that obviously helps. But without the qualifications/skills to go with it you have no hope.

It's no different from non-US citizens wanting to get jobs in America.
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Old 09.01.2015, 17:50
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

My husband's multinational company still brings over Americans from time to time. These are individuals who are highly placed in the corporation already and come over here to the European headquarters to do their same job yet in a different region. Or, they are transferred here to expand their territory, etc.

So, it's not impossible, but you already have to be well connected in your current position and transfer within your own multinational company. My nephew, for example, works for Google and lives in San Francisco. He is moving to Zurich this year with Google with an expanded job description and a change of venue and he is only 23.

The key for non-EU who want to transfer here is to apply for an international move within your own company. (P.S., none of the people I have referred to above speaks one word of any other language besides English.)
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Old 09.01.2015, 18:23
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

I think it also depends a bit on the employer.

For example, when I switched to my current job in perhaps the largest MNC HQed in switzerland, I specially told them that I have unrestricted access to the Swiss labor market despite that my nationality is non-EU so that no worry for permit issues. They said that they do not really care. If I had no proper permit they would just ask one for me. They gave me offer and signed the contract and turned down other candidates without any check of my permit (so i think they really do not care). Of course late on I showed them my permit so they did not do anything special to secure my permit.

ps. My job is kind of spécialiste but not so spécialiste in the sense that it can still be well questioned if the authorities want, if I were non-eu without proper permit and so the employer had had to ask for a permit for me.
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Old 09.01.2015, 18:59
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

Small consolation, I know, but it's the same for all of us non-EU types.
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Old 09.01.2015, 20:12
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

So if you think as a freelancer (I've no idea what kind) you can just rock up here speaking the lingo and that's enough to get you a job, think again. Depending on what you freelance as there may well be PLENTY of Swiss/EU nationals ahead of you in the jobs queue.
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Old 09.01.2015, 22:38
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So if you think as a freelancer (I've no idea what kind) you can just rock up here speaking the lingo and that's enough to get you a job, think again. Depending on what you freelance as there may well be PLENTY of Swiss/EU nationals ahead of you in the jobs queue.
you may wanna rethink before posting this kind of answer.
There are plenty of EVERYTHING, from corporate bla bla, to Google employees, to IT professionals, to highly skilled XYZ. NO profession is so unique that NO EU OR SWISS nationals can be found.
THAT WAS MY QUESTION, and NOBODY ADDRESSED IT.

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So if you think as a freelancer (I've no idea what kind) you can just rock up here speaking the lingo and that's enough to get you a job, think again. Depending on what you freelance as there may well be PLENTY of Swiss/EU nationals ahead of you in the jobs queue.


and oh, just to give you another response to your not-so-smart answer, who told you I had a profession that one could ONLY and SOLELY freelance in?
I speak German, English, French, and 2 other languages fluently, in case you care. Wonder how many languages you speak.....?

cheers

Last edited by 3Wishes; 09.01.2015 at 22:56. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 09.01.2015, 22:44
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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you may wanna rethink before posting this kind of answer.
There are plenty of EVERYTHING, from corporate bla bla, to Google employees, to IT professionals, to highly skilled XYZ. NO profession is so unique that NO EU OR SWISS nationals can be found.
THAT WAS MY QUESTION, and NOBODY ADDRESSED IT.
It's not that there is nobody in Europe that can do the job…. The employer has to prove that no suitable Swiss/EU citizen can be found. So they have to prove that they have advertised the job and had no suitable EU candidates apply…. then a Non-EU may be approved.

It's not just unusual jobs that qualify, other jobs such as hotel and shop work, may be approved for non-EUs if unusual languages are needed Japanese/Chinese/Russian etc.
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Old 09.01.2015, 22:49
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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You'll find that the Swiss authorities don't work in gray areas. You either fit the rules or you don't. There are many members of the Forum that are non-EU (American and otherwise) that have managed to find jobs, so it is not totally impossible. But you'll have better chances if you have local language skills and a special work skill that sets you apart from the rest.

This thread has some helpful info including links to what an employer has to do to hire you:
Work permit for US-Citizens

Edit - To be clear, you have to land the job first (sign a contract) and then you apply for/receive the work permit. You don't get the work permit and then move here to find a job.

I know that you don't get a work permit and then move here to find a job. No place works like that unless you win the greencard in the greencard lottery and move to the US.

I am already in Switzerland though. Just wanted to know if this quota thing is REAL or not, some people say it only depends on the employer, if he REALLY wants you, then he will say that and sign a contract, and you can get a permit. (that's how it is in Germany by the way, FYI, for non-EU and specifically Americans, as in Germany Americans are more "privileged" there than other non-EU nationals- this is not made up by me, but I was told this by the immigration office.)
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Old 09.01.2015, 22:52
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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I know that you don't get a work permit and then move here to find a job. No place works like that unless you win the greencard in the greencard lottery and move to the US.

I am already in Switzerland though. Just wanted to know if this quota thing is REAL or not, some people say it only depends on the employer, if he REALLY wants you, then he will say that and sign a contract, and you can get a permit. (that's how it is in Germany by the way, FYI, for non-EU and specifically Americans, as in Germany Americans are more "privileged" there than other non-EU nationals- this is not made up by me, but I was told this by the immigration office.)
It is definitely not up to the employer. No matter how much the employer wants you, the authorities might say no.

The quota is not the same thing however. The quota is how many permits are available each year…. but this doesn't affect whether you are eligible for one.
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:03
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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To add to the hurdles you face as a non-EU, your blue passport is another. Americans are particularly toxic these days.

I know of several companies that no longer hire Americans, in fact one goes farther - if the only candidate qualifed and willing to do the job is an American the job is then moved to the US rather than trying to bring the American to Switzerland. Easier to move the job.

Be aware, though, that the quota for non-EU folks has been cut steeply. There are only 6500 non-EU permits this year, so competition will be fierce, both among candidates for jobs and among employers for permit slots. For an American to successfully land a job in Switzerland, you'likely need to be the best of the best in a unique market with a significant track record behind you - or highly connected.

Wishing you all the best.
1- WOW, why so negative and pessimistic?? Are you an American who had such a bad experience?

2- moving the job? Not talking about HUGE companies where positions can just simply be moved. there are plenty of companies who have normal positions that CANNOT be moved anywhere outside of CH, and that may not find a Swiss/EU national at that particular moment in time, but a US citizen may qualify.

3- And where did you get this exact figure from? 6500?

4- highly connected? if you are highly connected you can get a job without being highly qualified, even as a receptionist. all you need is know the CEO or know people in the govt, or better the immigration office.

5- and I don't think you need to be the BEST OF THE BEST, so you are saying unless you are a Harvard grad with 10+ yrs of experience you won't get a job in CH?
hard to believe.........
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:05
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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...I am already in Switzerland though...
So you're here as a tourist looking for jobs? Nothing wrong with that. In fact it can be helpful to be here on the ground when you are applying.

To get back to your original question, which I did answer but not completely, it is true that you either fit the rules or you don't. BUT...there's more than one rule that can be applied.

For example, if you are married to a Swiss citizen or an EU citizen with a work permit here, you generally have the right to a "family reunification" permit - which includes working privileges and then the employer does not need to do anything special. I'm American married to a Swiss and any potential employer can hire me straight away. No need to jump through hoops.

PS - Check your attitude at the door, please. We are trying to offer you helpful information.

PS2 - See here for info on the quotas: CH reduces non EU permits for 2015 Note that these do not apply to those under family reunification permits
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:10
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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It's not that there is nobody in Europe that can do the job…. The employer has to prove that no suitable Swiss/EU citizen can be found. So they have to prove that they have advertised the job and had no suitable EU candidates apply…. then a Non-EU may be approved.

It's not just unusual jobs that qualify, other jobs such as hotel and shop work, may be approved for non-EUs if unusual languages are needed Japanese/Chinese/Russian etc.
Thanks, that's exactly what I was asking.
I do think that not just unusual jobs qualify, other jobs such as hotel, shop work, or ANY job may be approved for non-EU citizens, but I think it is simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
Basically, if an American applies for a regular job for which a university degree is needed (but say, you don't need to be Einstein!), many Swiss or EU have that kind of degree too, and exist to do the job, but AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME, when the employer needs someone no Swiss/EU applied,or was suitable in the eyes of that employer, then the employer CAN SAY " I want this American because he/she is the only candidate I find suitable"
that is my point.
Anybody disagree?
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:10
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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1- WOW, why so negative and pessimistic?? Are you an American who had such a bad experience?
1… you only have to do a search on here for American/US/FATCA etc to see many Americans have had problems.

2… A word of warning if you want to live in Europe… Europeans can't stand an American with attitude, that thinks they are superior because they are American… I promise you!
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:18
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Yes, it does apply very strictly. Why should Americans be treated any differently than any other non-EU national?

I didn't say Americans should or should not be treated differently. (FYI though, American citizens are privileged non-EU nationals who get work permits faster than some other non-EU nationals, FYI, it has to do with their governments, do not ask me why)

Which is why it's not just a matter of knowing a Swiss language although that obviously helps. But without the qualifications/skills to go with it you have no hope.

The language should be considered, there are many "highly skilled" people who come and work here who only know English (an IT person may not need anything else, for example, or some corporate person in some companies), but would be more beneficial (and appealing to any Swiss employer if he or she knew German, French, and Italian on top of English.

It's no different from non-US citizens wanting to get jobs in America.
and yes, it is VERY different from non-US citizens wanting to get jobs in America. FYI, there are NO quotas in the US for foreigners to work there, no set number of permits.
cheers!


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It is definitely not up to the employer. No matter how much the employer wants you, the authorities might say no.

The quota is not the same thing however. The quota is how many permits are available each year…. but this doesn't affect whether you are eligible for one.

yes of course it is the immigration office that makes the decision, not the employer, but further up the page people wrote that it is up to the employer to PROVE that he REALLY did not find Swiss/EU nationals.
Suppose he does that? that is my point. then what? my point is basically, all this talk about you need to have a degree in " XYZ", that no Swiss /EU has ever obtained........................ see my point? some rare degree in some rare field? some specialist that is hard to find....? really?I mean really?

Then about the quota, what do you mean by "eligible for a permit"?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 09.01.2015 at 23:24. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:23
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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and yes, it is VERY different from non-US citizens wanting to get jobs in America. FYI, there are NO quotas in the US for foreigners to work there, no set number of permits.
cheers!
You might want to read up on the U.S. State Department regulations:

Quote:
...Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants...
Source.
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:25
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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My husband's multinational company still brings over Americans from time to time. These are individuals who are highly placed in the corporation already and come over here to the European headquarters to do their same job yet in a different region. Or, they are transferred here to expand their territory, etc.

So, it's not impossible, but you already have to be well connected in your current position and transfer within your own multinational company. My nephew, for example, works for Google and lives in San Francisco. He is moving to Zurich this year with Google with an expanded job description and a change of venue and he is only 23.

The key for non-EU who want to transfer here is to apply for an international move within your own company. (P.S., none of the people I have referred to above speaks one word of any other language besides English.)
Thanks for your post, but I am not referring to moving/transferring from within any company from the US to CH through any corporation or anything like that.
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Old 09.01.2015, 23:26
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Re: work permit in CH for American citizens

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and oh, just to give you another response to your not-so-smart answer, who told you I had a profession that one could ONLY and SOLELY freelance in?
I speak German, English, French, and 2 other languages fluently, in case you care. Wonder how many languages you speak.....?
cheers
I speak only one, but the point I'm making is that your languages aren't the sole reason you'd be hired. You may speak several languages, but there are plenty of Swiss/EU nationals who do too so unless one or more of yours is rare yet in demand here you will still be at the back of the hiring queue. For example Mandarin is becoming a desired language skill here so if you speak that then it pushes you up the hiring ladder.

As far as hiring non-EU's goes all contracts will have the proviso in them that the job offer is subject to getting permit approval for you. If the Swiss authorities say no, then the job offer is cancelled regardless of the fact you and the employer have signed it. And no, Americans aren't privileged for hiring purposes here though they can qualify for early C permits after 5 years, but so can Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders I believe. The hiring privilege is all for EU nationals because of the Free Movement Agreement with the EU.

Oh and number 3 - 6,500. Federal government announcement at the end of 2014. There will only be 2,500 B permits (down from 3,500) and 4,000 L permits (down from 5,000) available this year.

As for the rest of the numbers - guess you'll find out when you try and get a) a job and b) a bank account. Oh, you do realise that you'll still have US tax filing obligations don't you? You'll have to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to send your account info on to the IRS? And that you'll need to report your "foreign" bank account to the US if the aggregate total is more than $10,000 at any time during the year? Welcome to the world of Americans abroad these days.

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Thanks, that's exactly what I was asking.
I do think that not just unusual jobs qualify, other jobs such as hotel, shop work, or ANY job may be approved for non-EU citizens, but I think it is simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
Basically, if an American applies for a regular job for which a university degree is needed (but say, you don't need to be Einstein!), many Swiss or EU have that kind of degree too, and exist to do the job, but AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME, when the employer needs someone no Swiss/EU applied,or was suitable in the eyes of that employer, then the employer CAN SAY " I want this American because he/she is the only candidate I find suitable"
that is my point.
Anybody disagree?
Yes, disagree. There is no such thing as "at this point in time" here when it comes to hiring a non-EU. It doesn't matter if the employer thinks a candidate is unsuitable, they have to explain to the Swiss authorities why that's the case and if the authorities don't agree they'll tell the employer to try harder. The whole hiring process takes months so it's not an on the spot thing at all. If you were an EU national it would be of course. This is all explained the the info you took your original post from.

Last edited by Medea Fleecestealer; 09.01.2015 at 23:42.
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