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Old 14.04.2015, 01:18
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US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg [D-visa and other questions]

Hello,
My husband will be taking a one year sabbatical as a professor employed by a U.S. university. He will continue to take his full salary from the U.S. university throughout the year. We plan to live in Fribourg with our two sons (enrolling them in a state primary school). The Swiss Embassy told my husband that he will need a work visa even though he won't be taking a salary from the Swiss-based university (he will be collaborating with other faculty there).

Can you please let me know if my understanding, outlined below, is correct? Thank you.

1. The University of Fribourg will send a letter to the Fribourg Canton, seeking authorization for all members of our family to reside in Fribourg for approximately 11 months.
- does the Canton need any supporting documents or photos from us for this purpose?

2. The Canton will issue a permit/authorization form (this may take several weeks). To whom & how will they send this?

3. We will then apply for a National Visa Type D for all members of our family (one application for each person?). We will need the following supporting documents:
https://www.eda.admin.ch/content/dam..._Work_Visa.pdf
(passport, 1 recent passport photograph, authorization letter from Switzerland, visa fee & if applying by mail: one prepaid, self-addressed return envelope with a tracking number)

4. After our arrival in Fribourg, we will complete this application for a residential permit:
http://www.fr.ch/spomi/files/pdf73/d..._sejour_fr.pdf

QUESTION: do we need to secure health insurance BEFORE our arrival in Switzerland, or can we do that shortly after we arrive?

Thanks again; this process is quite confusing.
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Old 14.04.2015, 10:19
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

1. The procedure will be similar to the one for non-EU hiring I suspect - it's outlined here.

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

Both the canton and the Federal government have to give their approval. Only then will permits be issued.

2/3. Yes, you all need to apply for the Type D visa to enter Switzerland long term legally. You can make the applications at the same time as the application for the permits is being done by the university. The two will be matched up during the process. If the permits get approval, then a letter will be sent to the embassy and you'll all go there to get the visas stamped in your passports. You may need recent (less than 6 months old) copies of both your marriage certificate and birth certificates for the kids according to the form you linked to plus more passport size photos (2 for each person). You need to register within 14 days of your arrival. As your permits will have already been approved this just starts the process of getting them issued to you. You'll also need to provide biometric info at some point for the permits.

No, you don't need to get health insurance before you arrive, it can be done once you're here. It will be backdated to your arrival date so if you have any emergencies or need to see a doctor before it's organised you can claim back any bills you've had to pay out for.

Note - check with the embassy whether your husband and you also need to have criminal record checks to bring with you and you may also need a credit check for rental purposes.
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:43
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

Thank you very much for your response. We heard back from the University as to what the procedure is from their perspective. Does this make sense? [And, do we REALLY need to provide translations for our marriage & birth certificates? This seems a bit absurd, but of course we will do it if necessary.]
---------
"According to the Law you will be an 'Academic Host' and this implies that you produce a lot of documents as you already mentioned ….including the confirmation from your Institution that you are entitled to a scientific leave, the document must also stipulate clearly your income + The invitation letter from the University host…..etc etc

Two actions to be started ASAP

1/ is a procedure in the US
2/ is indeed a procedure here in Fribourg

1/
Entry to Switzerland
You apply for a personal entry to Switzerland at least two months prior to your arrival and according to my information your will need to produce with translations:
- Copy of your wedding certificate

- Copy of birth certificate

- Copy of all the passports (valid – dates and signatures etc…)


+++ the usual documents / forms with pictures etc…

2/
Procedure to reside in Switzerland / that is our HR from the University which requires the following to issue a

- Attached doc must be filled in by You + University host

- Copy of your working contract in the US including in writing the income during the stay/sabbatical in Switzerland

- Invitation letter from University host

- Confirmation from your Institution that you are authorised to take this time off / time for research

- University: help provided for the housing


1/ and 2/
All documents must be produced either in one of our 4 languages or with a translation."
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:50
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

No. So long as your certificates are in English they're okay. Not sure about the work contract and other stuff though, that may need to be translated. Anyone else here know for sure?
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:53
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

I work at the University and have never had any problems with using english language documents (marriage certificate, birth certificates etc all from New Zealand).
But, while we didn't need translations, we did have to have them Apostille certified...

Definitely make sure that the documents are less than 6 months old (Fribourg seems pretty strict on this), and you can never have to many passport-sized photos - they seem to want them for everything!

Like Medea said, you don't need the health insurance yet, but you can always investigate your options and get an offer from a company - that way it is all ready to go whenever you need it to start, and will save a panic later.

Not sure what department your husband will be working in, but if you have any random questions about the uni, feel free to PM me.
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:54
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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No. So long as your certificates are in English they're okay. Not sure about the work contract and other stuff though, that may need to be translated. Anyone else here know for sure?
My husbands still employed by his NZ company, and we have no issues using his english-language contract to organise AVS etc.
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Old 14.04.2015, 17:59
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

Thank you for the kind offer to answer questions! Much appreciated. Our main contact at the University has been very kind, but we did not grasp just how confusing and how long this visa & permitting process can take, and we are now a bit anxious about it (my husband is supposed to attend a conference in Europe in early July and will obviously need his passport back before then).

Clarification questions: do you mean that the copies of the marriage & birth certificates cannot be more than 6 months old? So do they have to be more than photocopies? As in, will I need to order official copies from the state government offices where we were married and where my children were born?
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Old 14.04.2015, 18:12
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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Thank you for the kind offer to answer questions! Much appreciated. Our main contact at the University has been very kind, but we did not grasp just how confusing and how long this visa & permitting process can take, and we are now a bit anxious about it (my husband is supposed to attend a conference in Europe in early July and will obviously need his passport back before then).

Clarification questions: do you mean that the copies of the marriage & birth certificates cannot be more than 6 months old? So do they have to be more than photocopies? As in, will I need to order official copies from the state government offices where we were married and where my children were born?
Yes. Seems to be common here. Why a copy only 6 months old is better than the original one you were issued with is beyond me.

See if you can get a second passport issued, it's possible in some countries for people who travel frequently. It never hurts to ask.
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Old 15.04.2015, 00:27
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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Yes. Seems to be common here. Why a copy only 6 months old is better than the original one you were issued with is beyond me.
Because in many companies your birth certificate is updated with information such as marriages, divorces, kids, etc.

That is not the case in the US. But for them that is not relevant. So, it's just easier to get another official copy.
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Old 15.04.2015, 00:43
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

Wow, I have to say that is very discouraging if true. In the U.S., it is not easy, as "vital records" are kept by individual states. I will need to contact two different states to obtain copies (& who knows how long that will take).

If I proceed with getting official copies, will the Canton return them to me? Will I need to have additional copies on hand for other permits/applications/ etc.?

I've also just learned that we should bring not just current drivers licenses but the very first ones we were issued (as if we still have them!!!), as this will make getting a drivers license easier. I'm wondering if we should just switch and go to France instead - we would certainly save money. I am rather discouraged by all these unforeseen hoops we are having to jump through!
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Old 15.04.2015, 00:53
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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Wow, I have to say that is very discouraging if true. In the U.S., it is not easy, as "vital records" are kept by individual states. I will need to contact two different states to obtain copies (& who knows how long that will take).

If I proceed with getting official copies, will the Canton return them to me? Will I need to have additional copies on hand for other permits/applications/ etc.?

I've also just learned that we should bring not just current drivers licenses but the very first ones we were issued (as if we still have them!!!), as this will make getting a drivers license easier. I'm wondering if we should just switch and go to France instead - we would certainly save money. I am rather discouraged by all these unforeseen hoops we are having to jump through!
In my case, the Swiss officials kept the originals so I got two copies at the time I requested them in the U.S. If I need one again in the future, it will also have to be less than 6 months old so I'll have to order from vital records again. IIRC I've only needed one of each marriage certificate and birth certificate. As an American, I did not need them apostilled - then again maybe that's what they do anyway with that fancy embossing stamp used in the U.S.

Regarding driver's licenses, it depends. If your current license was issued less than 3 years ago then you will need something to prove you've been driving longer. Otherwise you'll wind up with a provisional license here and higher insurance. The equivalent of the DMV here will accept an expired license that is older than 3 years for that proof, or in my case I just contacted my old DMV and got a copy of my driving record. You don't need all old licenses.

There are a lot of hoops, but I am not sure France would be any less of a hassle. Plus, Fribourg is not exactly a close commute from France.

HTH, keep the questions coming and we'll do our best to help.
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Old 15.04.2015, 01:04
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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Wow, I have to say that is very discouraging if true. In the U.S., it is not easy, as "vital records" are kept by individual states. I will need to contact two different states to obtain copies (& who knows how long that will take).

If I proceed with getting official copies, will the Canton return them to me? Will I need to have additional copies on hand for other permits/applications/ etc.?

I've also just learned that we should bring not just current drivers licenses but the very first ones we were issued (as if we still have them!!!), as this will make getting a drivers license easier. I'm wondering if we should just switch and go to France instead - we would certainly save money. I am rather discouraged by all these unforeseen hoops we are having to jump through!
It is REALLY not that difficult.

First you don't need to change your driver's license to be here a year. If you do you just need an extract of your driving record and mostly you just want to prove you've had a license for more than 3 years. If your license issue date is more than 3 yrs ago, your fine. But as I said, you don't need to change your license.

Next, vital records are easy to get in the US. So easy in fact that I could get your for you. Check the website of each state. Lots of states are moving these types of request online. And it doesn't take that long. They will not return them. So get a two copies at a time.

You're just overwhelmed with all the information. Slow down & breath!
We'll take it step by step.

PS, France is not easier!
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Old 15.04.2015, 08:45
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

3Wishes is right, France would be much more difficult commuter-wise. The train from Geneva to Fribourg takes just under one and a half hours one way so commuting from some place in France will only add to the journey times. Doing it by car will be similar time-wise too, my other half drives Fribourg/Lausanne every day for work and it takes him 45-50 minutes then it's another 35-40 minutes to get to Geneva.

The other problem is that he is coming to work in Switzerland - that doesn't give him/you the right to live in another EU country I'm afraid. Trying to get permission to live in France while working in Switzerland could be more difficult than just dealing with the Swiss side alone.

You can drive for up to a year on your US licences, but bring documents showing you've had your licences for longer as the others suggest just in case you decide you want to change them over. You may find you don't even need to drive much here, public transport is excellent in Switzerland and you might be able to do without the car during the week, only renting one for weekends/holidays.

As miniMia says, slow down and take a breath. You can sort it all out. I also suggest you get hold of a copy of "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. It's full of useful info for both before and after you move here. You can order it from your local bookshop or via the Internet.
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Old 15.04.2015, 13:23
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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I'm wondering if we should just switch and go to France instead - we would certainly save money. I am rather discouraged by all these unforeseen hoops we are having to jump through!
No, don't do that! All the admin hoops can be off-putting, but more often than not it all sounds much harder that it actually turns out being.

I second what the others have said about not needing to change your drivers licence.

But above all else, Fribourg is (at least IMHO) a lovely place! In the time I have been here I have found it to be friendly and relaxed, with all sorts of stuff for kids to do that we loved growing up but have become tricky in bigger cities (exploring in the woods, BBQs on the riverside etc). It will be worth the bother of the paperwork, you have my word
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Old 15.04.2015, 15:32
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

I remember how overwhelming the paperwork seemed when we were moving here. Mostly it was MUCH easier than it seemed like it was going to be. But do take suggested deadlines and polite requests from people at the university seriously. There can be a lot of back-and-forth through the mail. If your kids don't yet have passports, better get those right away. I was terrible about getting things done on time (3 little kids! moving! selling the house! storage!), so it was down to the wire for us, my husband almost couldn't start his job on time. It took longer for me to get the kids' passports than I thought it would, and I hadn't realized that my husband's company couldn't submit his permit application until it had all the family documents, including passports, too (they asked me a couple times for the documents, but so politely that I didn't understand it was urgent). If you haven't yet, you might start by taking the kids to a passport-photo place and getting lots of passport and visa-sized photos of them (and you, and husband). I assume you'll need visas with photos? The requirements are really picky about the exact size and background color, and I think the size for passports might be different from the size for visas, and you need more of them than you think--to get passports and visas in the U.S. and then upon arrival here, I think, when you register in the community. I think I ended up needing about 10 photos of each person.

Also now is a good time to compile a binder with all the official documents you can think of--"originals" and copies. It will make your life easier in the long run. Try to order two or three "originals" of things like birth certificates and marriage certificates (as you may or may not be aware, weirdly, you can order multiple "originals"). Also make maybe 5-10 good color copies of everything for what you're doing now, and to bring with you--I seemed to be constantly having to run back to Kinkos to make 2 more copies for some other purpose. Here in Fribourg, I once had to bring a copy of our marriage certificate to the post office in order to pick up a package addressed to my husband, to prove we were married (we don't have the same last name).

We lived in Illinois before we moved here. It might be different for you because you're coming on a different kind of permit that we had, but for us we had to go down to the embassy in Chicago in person apply for, I don't know, visas to be stamped into our passports maybe? But I remember thinking that we were so lucky to live close to a Swiss embassy since we had to go in person to the embassy (and not just to drop in, had to have an appointment). There aren't very many Swiss embassy locations in the U.S., each serves a large region, and people in Switzerland don't necessarily realize how hard it could be for you to get to the applicable embassy and may not factor in enough time--places in Switzerland are much closer together. If the embassy is a couple states away, given limited hours, you might have to make an overnight trip (I can't imagine that would ever happen here in Switzerland), which would surely be difficult to schedule. So you might check now if you'll need to go to one (and, if so, if you'll need an appointment, and if even the kids have to go in person) or if you can do your process through the mail.

Even if you don't have to go into an embassy, you might start calling the Swiss embassy with your questions. They'll probably be even more helpful than people at the university because it is what the embassy people do all the time. I found them to be really nice and helpful. Really, if I were you, I'd call them right now rather than keep trying to make sense of the requirements yourself. The embassy hours tend to be limited (probably closed at lunch, open late, close early, and they are probably closed on days that will seem utterly random to you because it is some Swiss holiday you never heard of before), but if you can make a good contact there, you'll get definite answers to all your questions and it will be much faster and easier than figuring it all out on the internet.

Also, you may want to start gathering medical records for your kids. If you've been in the same area since they were born, you might be used to relying on their pediatrician to keep track of vaccinations and to have in his/her computer all the information about important medical events. Parents seem to be expected to do more of that themselves here, and doctor's files seem to be on paper more often than on the computer. You'll want good files to give to your pediatrician here--as you would if you were changing pediatricians within America. (If you'll be living in the town/city of Fribourg and want a recommendation, let me know, as there is at least one good pediatrician fluent in English.) Some of the vaccinations are different here, so you might want to make sure your family is completely up-to-date in the U.S. before you come.

Good luck with everything! Just do one thing at a time. But try to get something done each day.
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Old 15.04.2015, 17:32
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

Thank you so much for your encouragement! I have calmed down a bit and am feeling more optimistic (side note: I meant switching to France to a totally different university & town... but you're right, the visa process does not actually seem any easier, and this would be impractical professionally for my husband... but it certainly would save us money!)

I have now ordered two copies of each birth certificate & marriage certificate. (To be honest, it was easier than I expected! But it will still take up to two weeks to get to me). I will just chip away at all the other items as you suggest.

Thank you all for your advice about the drivers license - as we will be there (just slightly) less than a year, I am happy to hear we won't need to seek a Swiss license! We hope to only rent cars on occasion for weekend trips and two of the two-week school breaks.

I really *AM* so excited to live in Fribourg, and it pained me to think about switching to a different location, so we will just push through this visa stuff! I told my husband that it reminded me of house renovations - so painful and seemingly endless when you are in the thick of it, but so worth it in the end, and you quickly forget about the unpleasantness and stress! Here's hoping, anyway

Thank you all again - you have been very helpful!
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Old 20.04.2015, 21:59
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

UPDATE. I was putting the final touches on our Type D Visa Applications and (eventually) got through to the Swiss Consulate Visa desk to ask questions (they are available by phone for one hour a day).

The woman informed me that only my husband applies for a work visa; my children and I must apply for a family reunion visa. Nowhere had I seen this stated clearly (e.g. one member of the family applies for a work visa; the others apply for a family reunion visa). I had the impression that the family reunion visa was for those who have a family member already legally residing in Switzerland.

The other bit of news was that we do not have to send our passports at this time; we can wait until the official canton approval comes, and when that happens, we send our passports, and turnaround will be "2-3 days" (my husband will need to travel with his passport in early July).

Confusing as ever and a bit frustrating, as we raced to get our passports renewed (paying expediting fees, etc.) but now have to wait for the certified copies of birth & marriage certificates arrive anyway.
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Old 20.04.2015, 22:25
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Re: US citizen sabbatical in Fribourg

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Wow, I have to say that is very discouraging if true. In the U.S., it is not easy, as "vital records" are kept by individual states. I will need to contact two different states to obtain copies (& who knows how long that will take).

If I proceed with getting official copies, will the Canton return them to me? Will I need to have additional copies on hand for other permits/applications/ etc.?

I've also just learned that we should bring not just current drivers licenses but the very first ones we were issued (as if we still have them!!!), as this will make getting a drivers license easier. I'm wondering if we should just switch and go to France instead - we would certainly save money. I am rather discouraged by all these unforeseen hoops we are having to jump through!
Yes. It is correct that your husband applies for a work visa and your application is under family reunification. His reason for coming to Switzerland is for the job. Your reason for going is to join him.

When his is approved then yours will be processed even though you just apply together. It's a technical issue.

As was said above, you do not need to change your drivers license as you can drive with yours for 12 months. And you do not need the very first one issued. You need either your driving record which shows when you passed your driving exam or a driver's license who's issue date is more than 3 years ago.
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Old 23.04.2015, 15:18
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US citizen-specific question for Type D visa

This is an example of why I find the process so confusing. After communicating by phone with the Swiss Consulate in New York, I received an email from the woman with links and instructions for our visa applications (Type D work visa for my husband, Type D family reunion visas for me and my children). Attached to the email from the Consulate was an instruction sheet for the work visa, dated January 16, 2012:
1. Three national (type D) visa application forms, fully completed and signed by the applicant
2. Four recent passport photos
3. Two copies of valid passport
4. (n/a)
5. Two copies of employment letter or work contract
6. Visa fees
[can send original passport and prepaid envelope separately later]

However, on the Swiss Consulate's own website (see here), the instructions (dated January 20, 2014) state:
1. Original and a copy of your valid passport
2. (n/a)
3. 1 recent passport photograph
4. Authorization letter from Switzerland
5. Visa fees
6. Prepaid, self-addressed return envelope

I have sent an email to the Consulate for clarification, but why do they make it so confusing?!? (and at the moment it is onerous, because my husband will need to get additional photos taken if the first form is correct)
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Old 02.07.2015, 13:11
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Criminal record - obtain in US or in CH?

I've seen conflicting information about whether we need to obtain the criminal records (for residence permit) before our arrival in Switzerland or wait until we get there and contact the U.S. Embassy. I have searched in the archives, but still don't know the correct & current answer.

Thanks in advance.
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