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Old 28.07.2015, 22:19
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Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Hi all,

I know this is a widely posted about topic, but I was hoping that I could get a quick evaluation on what my chances of getting a Swiss work permit might be.

Resume/background:
I'm 25 (US citizen), graduated top of my class at my undergraduate (Top 10 university according to rankings) and received my Masters recently from MIT. My studies were focused on aerospace/mechanical engineering and I spent half a year as an intern in a major Swiss engineering company. My German is about A1 level and I am basically fluent in Mandarin.

I only ask on here because the company where I was interning at essentially said that continued employment would be very difficult due to the work permit situation and I was curious if this is actually the case (I don't believe they try applying for it that much). If it is, I was wondering how much of a difference a few years of experience would make (2 or 3). I was hoping that someone on this forum may have insight into my particular situation.

On a side note, I was also curious if anyone knows how much the university reputation makes. I have the impression that the Swiss value ETH education above all else (in my field anyways), even if foreign universities have comparable or better reputations (whether or not this is true is up for debate... I'm biased obviously).

Any feedback is appreciated! Especially if its the cold hard truth - I'm honestly just wondering if I would have to take a roundabout approach despite what I deem a decent resume.
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  #2  
Old 31.07.2015, 14:33
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

I think others can answer your specific questions. A friend who write on immigration law points to the FCN Treaty http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_cent...erland_001.asp and comments that if you have special skills you might be able to establish a company in a U.S. state and sign a contract with a Swiss firm in relation to a particular project and secure Treaty (temporary at least) residence rights that way. This stuff used to be easy. Given the anti-immigrant politics of today when every consular officer and work-permit bureaucrat has "no" at the tip of his tongue, it's no longer a DIY project I think.
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Old 31.07.2015, 14:40
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

The Swiss authorities won't give two figs about your university education. It may help you find a job, which in turn would help you get a work permit. Though in my experience, university reputations here tend not to held in such high regard when compared with other countries.
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Old 31.07.2015, 22:48
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Thanks for the responses. Doesn't look promising haha. Suppose I'll just have to look for a roundabout way or hope that if EU immigration gets limited somehow that it'll be beneficial for non-EU citizens.

@Caryl That looks pretty interesting but definitely not in the range of possibilities at the moment unfortunately. As you said, especially now.

@Loz1983 I seemed to get that feeling as well, quite different from the U.S - at least for starting out!
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Old 31.07.2015, 23:21
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

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Thanks for the responses. Doesn't look promising haha. Suppose I'll just have to look for a roundabout way or hope that if EU immigration gets limited somehow that it'll be beneficial for non-EU citizens.
I wouldn't count on the latter. Since reducing immigration from the EU will require breaking with existing legislation, non-EU quotas are the first to be slashed. They've already been lowered since last year! It's not impossible but definitely not easy, so best of luck to you.
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Old 31.07.2015, 23:40
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

You need to have a skill which is not available in Switzerland.

If you are an expert on some US device then it vwill be much easier. For example I know US surgeons who were experts on the Day Vinci robot and easily got permits when this device was adopted here.
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Old 01.08.2015, 00:34
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

The guideline that I keep hearing is "The company must have searched 6 months for a suitable local/EU candidate first."

This isn't always the hard part. For example, in the software engineering world, Google is always hiring, but is very picky. The result is that if you get through the interviews they can probably arrange a permit. (Another result is that there are rather good people who fail to make it through the interviews.)

I have heard that a graduate degree can help the permit process, though that might have been referring specifically to a PhD. Also, ETH is a good school, and Swiss companies do have a bit of a bias towards Swiss degrees. That said, they really should also have a little respect for a brass rat.

As your experience demonstrates, there is some mechanical and aerospace engineering in Switzerland. I do not know if there is enough competition for them to be getting permits for people in your field. If I were you, I'd go ahead and try, but I wouldn't count on things working out. I'd probably start with larger companies as they are more likely to know up front how easy it is (and how to actually make it happen). It may well be that some have found they need people they cannot get out of the Euro school systems and are willing to do the legwork to get them.

If it doesn't work out right away, and if you are really serious, a longer term strategy is to find a job in the US at a company with a Swiss presence, then after a few years try for an internal transfer. Obviously there is no guarantee, but I think it can make the permit a bit easier and of course you are not an unknown to the company.
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Old 03.08.2015, 18:45
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Thanks again for all the responses.

Seems like the optimistic consensus is "get more experience, especially in something unique, preferably with a Swiss company," and an pessimistic consensus of "good luck" haha.

In any case, it won't stop me from coming back for vacation at least
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Old 04.08.2015, 08:44
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Don't be put off just because you read on a forum that it may well be difficult to find a job/permit. You can at least send off some applications and see how far you get. There are companies based in Switzerland that could be interested in your skills. ABB, Alstom, Bombardier, Pilatus etc. I think there was once a thread about Engineering companies that have English speaking jobs. just throw off some applications, it certainly won't do you any harm.
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Old 04.08.2015, 13:15
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

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Don't be put off just because you read on a forum that it may well be difficult to find a job/permit. You can at least send off some applications and see how far you get. There are companies based in Switzerland that could be interested in your skills. ABB, Alstom, Bombardier, Pilatus etc. I think there was once a thread about Engineering companies that have English speaking jobs. just throw off some applications, it certainly won't do you any harm.
According to a source, Pilatus Aircraft has a lot of English speaking engineers, primarily Brits.
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Old 04.08.2015, 15:50
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

I'm not american but I have seen a considerable number of Americans with top education working in CH. Google in Zürich, for instance, hires a lot of Americans. I guess they have a strategy to someway legally circumvent the work permit issue, perhaps by hiring people in the US and then transferring them to Zürich.

I also know that the aerospace industry in general lacks engineers and CH is no exception.

Suggestion for the OP: try to contact alumni from your university that work in CH, they perhaps can help you.
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Old 04.08.2015, 22:57
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Thanks for the replies again yall. I'll go ahead and apply of course for the companies which have interesting work, just wanted to gauge how much hope I should put into it

@Capo You make a good point about the Alumni connections, that would probably actually be a really good avenue.

The Google thing comes up a lot.. Is it possible that they just require a super high English proficiency (C2 or so?) in their job postings?
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Old 05.08.2015, 12:14
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

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The Google thing comes up a lot.. Is it possible that they just require a super high English proficiency (C2 or so?) in their job postings?
No. As I said, I guess Google have a strategy for the work permit, but I don't know how is it. I do know that many companies hires tons of non-EU citizens with no big difficult. Glencore, for instance, hires chinese nationals relatively easy. Perhaps it's more difficult to justify hiring Americans because of the language.

I don't remember the name of the company, I have a terrible memory, but I know that there are some Americans in CH working for the KC390 project... I wish I could help you but I guess you can find out with some googling...
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Old 07.08.2015, 21:02
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Re: Help: Looking for an evaluation of my work permit chances (US Citizen)

Google does require a certain level of English, but I don't think people starting are consistently at C2. I mean, they have to survive technical interviews in English, but we don't require them to analyze Milton or demonstrate perfect diction.

Also, Brits and Americans are certainly present, but hardly dominate the office. I've also encountered Russians, Romanians, Turks, Germans, Italians, French, Spaniards, Poles, Indians, Hungarians and probably a few more.
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