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Old 27.01.2015, 15:26
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PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

Hi everyone,

My girlfriend and I (currently living in Greece - Greek citizens) are considering of moving to Zurich. I would like to pursue a PHD in ETH and my girlfriend for post-graduate studies (or for a job - she could start intensive German lessons).
Assuming that I get the PHD-deal with ETH before going to Zurich:
  1. Once I get there, I will get the Permit B, right ? (PhD candidates are not assumed to be students, right ?)
  2. If my girlfriend does not find an appropriate master-programme or her application gets rejected:
    • Will we be able to live an inexpensive and simple life only with my PHD salary ?
    • I read that she will get a permit for the first three months and then another one for three more months in the search for a job. Does that hold or she can have the same permit as me, since she will be living with me and I will be providing the money needed ?
    • If we get married before goind to Zurich, what advantages will that have for us ? I recently heard that if a married couple lives in Switzerland and one of them has a job while the other is unemployed for over a year, then the government is forced to find a job for the unemployed one. Is this true or is it completely nonsense ?


Thanks in advance.
Best,
Chris
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Old 27.01.2015, 16:39
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

1. Probably a B, but it's not guaranteed. The cantonal authorities decide who gets L or B, and you don't get any say. But I've not heard of a PhD on an L so far.

2a. It all depends on your lifestyle and the salary of your PhD. If you're frugal, it may be fine.

2b. If she's coming to Switzerland as a job-seeker then her permit is 100% separate from yours (since you're not married). She starts with a 3-month L permit that can be extended a few times, provided she can prove she has the means to support herself. If she comes as your dependent, you need to apply for a concubine permit for her and sign financial responsibility for 5 years even if the relationship later breaks up.

2c. Advantage of marriage is that she automatically gets the same permit you do, which gives her permission to work but she doesn't have to have a job in order to stay. Also she doesn't have to keep re-applying for a job-seeker's permit every 3 months. Again, this is assuming you can support yourselves. A figure I've often seen tossed around is 100 CHF per person, per day.

As for the government being forced to find a job for anyone here more than a year - utter nonsense. Surely you realize how silly this sounds? Even Swiss citizens don't have jobs handed over on a silver platter just because they've been out of work for a year.
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Old 27.01.2015, 16:47
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

Once I get there, I will get the Permit B, right ? (PhD candidates are not assumed to be students, right ?)

No, a PhD is classified as an education in Switzerland. Therefore, PhD candidates are considered students. You will probably get a B right away, but it might well be an L at first, too.

Will we be able to live an inexpensive and simple life only with my PHD salary ?

"Zurich" and "inexpensive" don't go hand-in-hand. And to be very honest, I highly doubt you will be able to support the both of you on a PhD salary. If you found 100% employment as a PhD candidate, then yes, though you still won't exactly live in luxury. But in reality, most PhD candidates are not hired full-time and salaries are therefore often low. Most don't earn considerably more than CHF 3500 gross/month, often even less, and that is not easy to live on for one person, and close to impossible for two.

I read that she will get a permit for the first three months and then another one for three more months in the search for a job. Does that hold or she can have the same permit as me, since she will be living with me and I will be providing the money needed ?

If she comes as your dependent, you need to apply for a (concubine) permit. You also need to confirm that you will support her financially for several years (five I think). That is even if you break up at some point.

There's not necessarily a need for that, as she can extend her job-seeker 3-months permit a few times. She won't be forced to leave after 6 months or so, no worries.

If we get married before goind to Zurich, what advantages will that have for us ? I recently heard that if a married couple lives in Switzerland and one of them has a job while the other is unemployed for over a year, then the government is forced to find a job for the unemployed one. Is this true or is it completely nonsense ?

The only advantage of marriage is that she would automatically get the same permit as you.

The latter about the job thing is complete nonsense.
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Old 27.01.2015, 16:54
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

As an EU citizen, you will atleast get a B, renewable yearly, since your contract will typically be for a year at a time. Some EU students directly get a five year permit.

If you decide to sponsor your GF`s permit, you will have to show proof of support at each renewal if she continues not to have a job. Her permit will be renewed along with your permit each year. Getting approval as a "concubine" is very subjective though. Getting the initial approval will be difficult, and proving to the cantonal migration office that you are in a long term relationship will mean all kinds of documents.

I dont have detailed knowledge about ETHZ contracts, but its counterpart in the French side, EPFL, pays slightly more than 3000 net. So IMO, with some commuting, inexpensive, simple life for two is doable.
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Old 27.01.2015, 17:21
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

Thank you all for your answers !
3Wishes, about the last question, yes, I had the same response when I first heard it, but had to ask just to be sure.
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Old 27.01.2015, 18:17
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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Thank you all for your answers !
3Wishes, about the last question, yes, I had the same response when I first heard it, but had to ask just to be sure.
No worries. Better to ask than to assume and then get a huge shock later.
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Old 27.01.2015, 19:46
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About the first question, the type of permit depends on the length of your *current* contract (which will typically be renewed until graduation). The typical length is 1 year but you can try to negotiate with your professor about it.

My boyfriend (EU citizen) did a PhD at ETH. In the first year he got a 1-year contract which meant an L permit valid for 1 year. In the second year he agreed with his professor to get a 2-year contract: as a result he received a B permit valid for 5 years.

Hope this helps!

......
Sorry, I forgot to mention that this was 7 years ago. These rules might have changed in the meantime.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 27.01.2015 at 20:23. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 27.01.2015, 19:50
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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Sorry, I forgot to mention that this was 7 years ago. These rules might have changed in the meantime.
Thanks for the info!
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:20
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

Hello, I am sorry if I answer such an old thread, but it is very close to the question I have so it is maybe better to write here instead of creating a new thread.

Anyway, I am a PhD student at UZH and my girlfriend is living with me as a tourist for the next 3 months, then she will apply for a job-seeker L permit. I have an L permit, too, since I have received a 1 year contract which will be renewed year by year. Can I sponsor her L permit having an L permit, or do they need I have a B permit? Also, at the Kreisburo they told me they need also a statement from my bank to check that I can effectively help her: do they require a minimum amount on my bank account to accept her request?

Thank you very much!
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:41
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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...Anyway, I am a PhD student at UZH and my girlfriend is living with me as a tourist for the next 3 months, then she will apply for a job-seeker L permit. I have an L permit, too, since I have received a 1 year contract which will be renewed year by year. Can I sponsor her L permit having an L permit, or do they need I have a B permit? Also, at the Kreisburo they told me they need also a statement from my bank to check that I can effectively help her: do they require a minimum amount on my bank account to accept her request?
What nationality is she? Based on the info you provided I'd guess she's EU? If so, then I would not bother trying to sponsor her because she can get a permit on her own as a job-seeker and then it is not tied to you. Provided she has enough funds to support herself, this can be extended multiple times. If she's non-EU then it gets more complicated.
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:44
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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What nationality is she? Based on the info you provided I'd guess she's EU? If so, then I would not bother trying to sponsor her because she can get a permit on her own as a job-seeker and then it is not tied to you. Provided she has enough funds to support herself, this can be extended multiple times. If she's non-EU then it gets more complicated.
Yes, we are both from EU. She doesn't currently have enough funds to support herself and it is for this reason that I want to sponsor her.
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:57
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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Yes, we are both from EU. She doesn't currently have enough funds to support herself and it is for this reason that I want to sponsor her.
In that case, the rough figure we see tossed about regularly is 100 CHF per person, per day. Sometimes 100 for the first and 50 for the second. Call a different Kreisburo from your own and ask for their figure. It should be very similar for you, but you won't have to give away your intentions just yet.

That would be for a concubine permit, by the way, as "girlfriend" is not a recognized status. We've seen stories where the sponsoring party had to sign financial responsibility for 5 years, even if the relationship subsequently breaks up. Again that can vary by canton.

Is marriage in the works? It may be easier to do sooner rather than later in that case.
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Old 14.04.2015, 18:00
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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But in reality, most PhD candidates are not hired full-time and salaries are therefore often low. Most don't earn considerably more than CHF 3500 gross/month, often even less, and that is not easy to live on for one person, and close to impossible for two.
This depends on the faculty.

In the sciences etc you may get a half salary for working a full job, but in engineering a full salary is normal. I got one when I did my PhD X years ago. I had previously worked for ABB and switching to the ETH was actually a salary increase.
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Old 14.04.2015, 18:02
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Re: PHD in Zurich - Travelling with girlfriend

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Yes, we are both from EU. She doesn't currently have enough funds to support herself and it is for this reason that I want to sponsor her.
Students are normally only allowed to sponsor spouses and/or their dependent children.

"If you are enrolled in an education and training programme, you may only bring your spouse, dependent children under the family reunification programme."

https://www.ch.ch/en/family-reunification-eu-efta

Whether you can afford to sponsor her on a concubine permit I don't know. You'll need to show enough funds/earnings to support her for 5 years, even if the relationship subsequently breaks down. The usual figure to work to is CHF100 a day for 1 person so do the math. You could probably cut that figure in half for the 2nd person, but even so you're looking at around CHF50,000 for a single year.
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