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Old 03.08.2011, 16:43
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Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I am an American citizen and my fiance, a Swiss citizen, plan to move to CH in the next 8 months or so. We are still unsure when we want to marry (ideally in the next year), and if we want to do it in the States or CH.
Does anyone that was in a similar situation have any suggestions on if applying/ obtaining a visa for the US partner in the marriage is easier in the states or CH? We're trying to plan ahead, and want to have a better idea of our options before approaching the embassy/ other officials with questions.
Thanks for reading my post but please do not reply if unless you've had first hand experience with this!
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Old 03.08.2011, 17:19
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!

While I am not in a US-CH couple, I have a US passport, was married in France (on a tourist visa) and came to Switzerland (again on a tourist visa) two days later. I showed up at the gemeinde with my livret de famille, gave them money and had my residence permit in 72 hours.

You are an American, so you donít need a fiancť visa to come to Switzerland. As you have 90 days and you donít come from a country where getting vital statistics records takes years, so you could conceivably arrive in Switzerland, then speak with your local commune about what docs they need (the standard stuff like birth certificates, etc, some communes ask for it translated, some donít) and be married before your tourist visa runs out.

I know that in the US (in my part at least) they definitely ask for items to be translated and that can tack on the time.

I think it all depends on what you want to do wedding-wise (guests, money, etc), but logistically I donít think one option is more PITA than another as far as administrative issues.

Just make sure that you get your passport stamped when you arrive the airport or train station (I had to ask for it, and had a very charming Swiss German border guard tell me to "stamp it yourself" which I did, then he laughed at me for stamping upside down) as proof of your date of entry when you go to the commune.
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Old 03.08.2011, 21:34
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I would absolutely say do it in the states. It takes a lot of paperwork, time, and money to do it here. If you want more info from my experience (we did it here), pm me.
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Old 03.08.2011, 21:48
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I also got married here in CH, rather than in NY.
You can start the process of your paperwork at one of the consulates or embassies in the states, that would give you a fiancee visa, and allow you to stay until all of the marriage paperwork is finished, without problems.

That said, I came here without doing that, and had minimal problems getting married, and receiving my visa.

The ONLY problem that I had was receiving my FBI background check within the time the immigration office allowed. But after speaking with immigration here, they gladly extended the time as long as I could show the application had been made. You can get this check in advance, but can't be older than 6 months (like the birth certificate). I had the bad luck of coming when some administration changes had been made and a notorized character reference was no longer enough.

If you marry in the US, the process here might be even simpler, especially if you have all of the necessary documents with you when you arrive.

Good luck.
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Old 03.08.2011, 21:53
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I don't have personal experience of the legal part - from friends though I understand it's easier in the US.

I would say very important is that you consider what kind of wedding you want. An American-style wedding - where people really dress up in black tie and there's a lot of pomp and ceremony and finery - is not really going to happen here where things are much less formal. You won't find the same kind of services e.g. very few wedding planners here, caterers very different, a completely different style of florists, wedding dresses - different style too. Of course Swiss weddings are also lovely, but the style is not like in the US. I'd also consider how many people would be travelling from each country. We really wanted to get married here for example, but it would have meant that my grandparents could not have been there - so it was out of the question really as I very much wanted them there.
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Old 03.08.2011, 22:36
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I got married in the US while on vacation in upstate NY (in '88), in between my friend's wedding and my sister's. However, my wife was dual Swiss/Canadian, so didn't need a visa, and the people at the town-hall were happy to accept our verbal translation of her Swiss divorce papers!

Of, course, once we got back here, I was married and she wasn't, until 6 months and CHF 35 later (marriage certificate had to be sent to the consulate in NY for a FREE translation), at which point it was backdated, I got all my Quellensteuer back, and had to start paying normal taxes!

Tom
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Old 04.08.2011, 23:19
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

Thanks for the reply Nicole. Are you an EU citizen then? I think the Swiss are a lot more welcoming to your kind as opposed to mind. However you make this sound very easy- breezy and I appreciate the morale boast from that!



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Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!

While I am not in a US-CH couple, I have a US passport, was married in France (on a tourist visa) and came to Switzerland (again on a tourist visa) two days later. I showed up at the gemeinde with my livret de famille, gave them money and had my residence permit in 72 hours.

You are an American, so you donít need a fiancť visa to come to Switzerland. As you have 90 days and you donít come from a country where getting vital statistics records takes years, so you could conceivably arrive in Switzerland, then speak with your local commune about what docs they need (the standard stuff like birth certificates, etc, some communes ask for it translated, some donít) and be married before your tourist visa runs out.

I know that in the US (in my part at least) they definitely ask for items to be translated and that can tack on the time.

I think it all depends on what you want to do wedding-wise (guests, money, etc), but logistically I donít think one option is more PITA than another as far as administrative issues.

Just make sure that you get your passport stamped when you arrive the airport or train station (I had to ask for it, and had a very charming Swiss German border guard tell me to "stamp it yourself" which I did, then he laughed at me for stamping upside down) as proof of your date of entry when you go to the commune.
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Old 05.08.2011, 02:29
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I'm not sure if it matters so much where you get married. The marriage will be recognized regardless. I came to Switzerland as the spouse of a Swiss citizen and it was amazingly easy. Much easier than it was for my wife to come to the US (also as my spouse).

I would get married where you want and not worry about any bureaucracy differences. However it would be best to get responses from others who have done it recently. I know the US has/had a problem if you came on the 90 day visa waiver program and then got married. You were supposed to have a fiancťe visa in advance. Maybe Switzerland has something similar but from what I've read in other places on this forum, it's not a complicated thing.

Best of luck,
Dan
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Old 05.08.2011, 14:33
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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Thanks for the reply Nicole. Are you an EU citizen then? I think the Swiss are a lot more welcoming to your kind as opposed to mind. However you make this sound very easy- breezy and I appreciate the morale boast from that!
I have an American passport. Sadly I separated before I could get my husband's French passport
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Old 05.08.2011, 14:46
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

I would say do it the States. It may end up costing you less, and the paperwork easier to handle.
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Old 05.08.2011, 14:57
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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please do not reply if unless you've had first hand experience with this!
Married in USA, divorced in CH. No problems on either end.
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Old 05.08.2011, 15:18
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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Married in USA, divorced in CH. No problems on either end.
You know why divorces are expensive? They're worth it !!
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Old 05.08.2011, 15:32
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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I would absolutely say do it in the states. It takes a lot of paperwork, time, and money to do it here. If you want more info from my experience (we did it here), pm me.
I wouldn't say time is a major factor in the decision. Once you inform the Swiss authorities you intend to marry you have 3 months to get your act together and get it done. Not exactly a long drawn-out process...
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Old 05.08.2011, 15:47
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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Thanks for reading my post but please do not reply if unless you've had first hand experience with this!
I love your balls for posting this little bit of the message so early in your EF career, your optimism for thinking it will work, and your patience when it didn't.....

To be fair - it seemed to prevent one of the regulars posting about which Sunday paper he liked, so it must have done some good

I don't have exactly the same experience - but was married in Switzerland recently and neither of us are Swiss and my wife is not an EU citizen. The process was neither difficult, expensive or time consuming - the officials were helpful and friendly and we had no difficulties at all. But honestly - both are developed countries, one of you will be "native" in the country in which you will get married so it probably won't make a huge difference either way - probably choose depending on where the party will be better!

The only point I would make if that if you are already together in the US, then it may be easier there - you will avoid the potential "marrying to get a permit" page of the rulebook here. My wife was here under her own permit before we got married, but we still had to do a little bit of proof that it wasn't a "marriage of convenience" - nothing too intrusive, but another tiny hurdle.

Good luck
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Old 05.08.2011, 16:16
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

we legally married in the u.s. courthouse style and then a month later had a wedding ceremony in switzerland. nothing about the swiss part was legally binding, although we did sign a religious document. i'd say 95% of the guests at our wedding did not and still do not know we were already married when we got married. we weren't hiding it from them, but it hardly seemed important. we celebrate our swiss wedding ceremony for our anniversary and occasionally we might say something in passing (if we remember) on the yearly anniversary of the courthouse affair.
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Old 05.08.2011, 16:19
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Ya don't even have to get out of the car

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Old 05.08.2011, 16:21
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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although we did sign a religious document.
What kind of "religious document" did you sign and to whom was it sent afterwards?
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Old 05.08.2011, 18:09
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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What kind of "religious document" did you sign and to whom was it sent afterwards?
Might have been the church tax declaration thingy. Nothing specifically to do with marriage but all new residents to Switzerland have to declare a religion (or none) for church tax purposes.
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Old 07.08.2011, 18:17
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

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I wouldn't say time is a major factor in the decision. Once you inform the Swiss authorities you intend to marry you have 3 months to get your act together and get it done. Not exactly a long drawn-out process...
Considering you can do it in NYC in one day I think 3 months is a lot more time
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Old 10.08.2011, 21:59
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Re: Minimizing bureaucracy: To marry in USA or CH?

Thanks Dan. It looks like we will be tying the knot down in the States!



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I'm not sure if it matters so much where you get married. The marriage will be recognized regardless. I came to Switzerland as the spouse of a Swiss citizen and it was amazingly easy. Much easier than it was for my wife to come to the US (also as my spouse).

I would get married where you want and not worry about any bureaucracy differences. However it would be best to get responses from others who have done it recently. I know the US has/had a problem if you came on the 90 day visa waiver program and then got married. You were supposed to have a fiancťe visa in advance. Maybe Switzerland has something similar but from what I've read in other places on this forum, it's not a complicated thing.

Best of luck,
Dan
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