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  #21  
Old 11.08.2011, 07:38
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Re: Studying "under the table"

Update: I called the university yesterday and explained the whole fiasco to a woman in admissions.
She said "so you probably won't get your visa in time."
I said "Exactly. So can I enter the country as a tourist and go to classes while I wait for the visa?"
She said "Yes, yes you can do that."
"Really?"
"Yes."

Granted, I know that UZH secretaries don't know everything... and maybe much less than one would hope. But still. It counts for something. I can definitely say the university gave me the OK, at least.

I'd like to address some potential problems that have been brought up here:

-Getting into the country.
If you're Canadian/American, this should not be a problem regardless! The whole point is that we're entering the country as tourists, and for that we don't need special visas. Just a normal passport. (And, accordingly, we'll need to say "I'm visiting a tourist" at customs if asked...)

-Getting into the university.
I guess we're going to find out about this one, there seem to be some differing opinions. Might come down to luck. (I for one hope I can register with the same secretary who gave me the go-ahead over the phone!) If worst comes to worst, we can't get in without the visas, and we have to wait until winter.

-Getting kicked out of the country.
I doubt we should really be afraid of this. I know the Swiss are sticklers for rules, but the worst crime we'll be committing will be sitting in lectures and handing in assignments as tourists for a few weeks/months while we wait for our student visas to be approved (though we might not want to parade around this fact). It isn't like we'll be in the country illegally.

-Not getting the visa.
I have no idea what to say about this one. I have no idea what the consulate's criteria are for approving a student visa... I just assumed it wouldn't be a problem until I read some of the posts in here. Let's just hope this part goes smoothly, because not getting a visa at all really would be a problem!

Anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong on any of this stuff... I know it's not a completely risk-proof plan. But I'm planning to try it anyway. I really think everything will work out.

Good luck to all.
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  #22  
Old 11.08.2011, 09:59
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Re: Studying "under the table"

An update on what I asked to the consulate.

Response from the consulate to "Can I study in Switzerland without a Visa if it's less than 3 months? "

Answer from Swiss Consulate in Toronto: No, to study for any period of time you require a student visa.

Basically while going into the country after applying for a Visa and studying we're really not doing anything wrong or hurting anyone by any means,.... buttt you then have to accept that you are breaking the law (can't study without Visa, and tourists can't study) (even if it's silly) and you run the risk of not only being kicked out of Switzerland but from being barred from the Schengen area, just cause you were unwilling to wait a few months.

In light of this, I personally will be waiting until I get my Student Visa before I enter the country and either start the 1st semester late or start in the 2nd. No big deal, I get to work on my German that way anywho!

For those who attempt (and I'm sure there wont be an issue) to study regardless I wish you the best!
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Old 11.08.2011, 10:09
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Update: I called the university yesterday and explained the whole fiasco to a woman in admissions.
She said "so you probably won't get your visa in time."
I said "Exactly. So can I enter the country as a tourist and go to classes while I wait for the visa?"
She said "Yes, yes you can do that."
"Really?"
"Yes."

Granted, I know that UZH secretaries don't know everything... and maybe much less than one would hope. But still. It counts for something. I can definitely say the university gave me the OK, at least.

I'd like to address some potential problems that have been brought up here:

-Getting into the country.
If you're Canadian/American, this should not be a problem regardless! The whole point is that we're entering the country as tourists, and for that we don't need special visas. Just a normal passport. (And, accordingly, we'll need to say "I'm visiting a tourist" at customs if asked...)

-Getting into the university.
I guess we're going to find out about this one, there seem to be some differing opinions. Might come down to luck. (I for one hope I can register with the same secretary who gave me the go-ahead over the phone!) If worst comes to worst, we can't get in without the visas, and we have to wait until winter.

-Getting kicked out of the country.
I doubt we should really be afraid of this. I know the Swiss are sticklers for rules, but the worst crime we'll be committing will be sitting in lectures and handing in assignments as tourists for a few weeks/months while we wait for our student visas to be approved (though we might not want to parade around this fact). It isn't like we'll be in the country illegally.

-Not getting the visa.
I have no idea what to say about this one. I have no idea what the consulate's criteria are for approving a student visa... I just assumed it wouldn't be a problem until I read some of the posts in here. Let's just hope this part goes smoothly, because not getting a visa at all really would be a problem!

Anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong on any of this stuff... I know it's not a completely risk-proof plan. But I'm planning to try it anyway. I really think everything will work out.

Good luck to all.
Even if you are able to successfully do what you wrote above and circumvent all the legal hurdles, you completely overlooked the biggest problem you'll face with this plan: housing. AFAIK it is (nearly?) impossible to rent any place on a tourist visa, except if you've friends/relatives here. So your only options will be hostels/hotels/b&b's which're prohibitively expensive on a student budget.
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  #24  
Old 11.08.2011, 12:24
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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-Getting kicked out of the country.
I doubt we should really be afraid of this. I know the Swiss are sticklers for rules, but the worst crime we'll be committing will be sitting in lectures and handing in assignments as tourists for a few weeks/months while we wait for our student visas to be approved (though we might not want to parade around this fact). It isn't like we'll be in the country illegally.
The worst crime you commit is being in violation of the immigration law the moment you set foot on Swiss territory, regardless of what you do thereafter.

Universities have been notoriously lenient with illegal residents - the presence of immigration authorities for the first time ever at the new students' registration day in Geneva a couple of years ago sparked a major outcry and won't happen again. But that's only because they do not face any risk...

That doesn't make it any less illegal and rather annoying if you get caught however.
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Old 15.08.2011, 22:28
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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An update on what I asked to the consulate.

Response from the consulate to "Can I study in Switzerland without a Visa if it's less than 3 months? "

Answer from Swiss Consulate in Toronto: No, to study for any period of time you require a student visa.
Thanks for the update - though I wish it was better news. And you're right that trying to study without a visa involves some risk... I'm still going to give it my best shot, and will update results here.

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Even if you are able to successfully do what you wrote above and circumvent all the legal hurdles, you completely overlooked the biggest problem you'll face with this plan: housing. AFAIK it is (nearly?) impossible to rent any place on a tourist visa, except if you've friends/relatives here. So your only options will be hostels/hotels/b&b's which're prohibitively expensive on a student budget.
Glad you posted that because I never realised this would pose an issue. I myself will be staying with my boyfriend, but was hoping to get my own apartment eventually, so I guess that's out of the question until the visa comes through.

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The worst crime you commit is being in violation of the immigration law the moment you set foot on Swiss territory, regardless of what you do thereafter.
Not true - if you're not actually studying then there's nothing illegal about travelling there as a tourist. Personally if I get the impression from the school/Kreibuero that things won't work out anyway, I'll abandon the studying plan and I will be there as a tourist. Also I called the consulate and they said it's alright to travel to Switzerland while the visa is being processed, although they don't encourage that you stay there when you have to send in your passport.
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Old 16.08.2011, 06:28
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Not true - if you're not actually studying then there's nothing illegal about travelling there as a tourist. Personally if I get the impression from the school/Kreibuero that things won't work out anyway, I'll abandon the studying plan and I will be there as a tourist. Also I called the consulate and they said it's alright to travel to Switzerland while the visa is being processed, although they don't encourage that you stay there when you have to send in your passport.
I got told the same thing. The swiss embassey did say however they could send the passport off to the nearest embassy (Paris) and it could be picked up from there. You'd prolly need to get photocopies done of your passport while it's sent off or, in rare occasions Canadian embassy's have been able to provide supplementary passports, if provided with a good reason. Just an idea.
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Old 16.08.2011, 08:31
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Re: Studying "under the table"

Rules are very strict in Switzerland. True, it might work for some time, but it's too big a risk to take: you might be deported and never allowed back in Switzerland and it possibly might have an impact on how your passport is viewed in other Schengen-area countries. Also, as someone mentioned, having a permit is extremely important for housing, especially so in Zurich, an extremely competititve housing market.

Wait out a semester is that's the worst that can happen. The consequences of doing otherwise are potentially too harsh. Some other countries might not be that strict, but Switzerland certainly can be.... even if you have a nice Canadian passport.
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Old 16.08.2011, 12:53
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Not true - if you're not actually studying then there's nothing illegal about travelling there as a tourist.
Please refer to art. 17 al. 1 of the Aliens Law, that specifies that once a petition for a residence permit is filed (regardless of type), then the petitioner must remain outside Switzerland while his/her petition is being considered.
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Old 16.08.2011, 20:29
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Please refer to art. 17 al. 1 of the Aliens Law, that specifies that once a petition for a residence permit is filed (regardless of type), then the petitioner must remain outside Switzerland while his/her petition is being considered.
Well, you may be right. I initially thought this article wouldn't matter as it would be difficult to enforce. But I called the consulate in Montreal today (I learned recently that I have to go through them instead of Toronto) and they said they need my passport now. Toronto had said the passport could be sent in later, and even that I could travel to Switzerland while the visa was being processed. But Montreal says nope, they won't process a visa which has a Swiss entry stamp on it, no way. They need the passport now, or else I should reapply for the winter semester.

So it looks like I may be grounded in Canada until February. Oh well.

If I learn anything else I'll keep you updated.
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Old 17.08.2011, 06:52
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Re: Studying "under the table"

I'd try contacting the people in charge of your Masters program. The lady I'm working with said as long as I arrived by the end of October I would be fine, and I could make up the missed courses next fall. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect the visa back by the end of October. I went ahead and paid tuition today, and I am going to go to the consulate next week and apply in person. If I do not get it in time.....at least I tried.
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Old 17.08.2011, 09:02
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Please refer to art. 17 al. 1 of the Aliens Law, that specifies that once a petition for a residence permit is filed (regardless of type), then the petitioner must remain outside Switzerland while his/her petition is being considered.
Well, you may be right.
Well, actually, Shorrick is right on the money.

And since Switzerland is a signatory to the Schengen acquis, f@ck it up here and you'll be persona non grata to pretty much most of mainland Europe too.
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Old 19.08.2011, 04:54
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Re: Studying "under the table"

Ok, scratch what I wrote last, as I have yet another update:

Apparently the consulate in Montreal had made some computational errors, and they somehow thought I was applying for a 'C' visa, rather than a 'D' visa. This error was discovered while the Toronto consulate was calling the Montreal consulate on my behalf, arguing that I shouldn't need to send in my passport for a student visa. The Montreal consulate corrected their error and agreed that I don't need to send in my passport at all, just photocopies of it.

I told them I'm flying to Switzerland next week, is this alright? and is it possible to send the visa there? They said "well, you're not reallllly supposed to do it that way, but yeah the visa can be sent to Paris or Germany for you to pick up."

Sounds good to me! Off to Switzerland I go.
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Old 19.08.2011, 17:11
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Please refer to art. 17 al. 1 of the Aliens Law, that specifies that once a petition for a residence permit is filed (regardless of type), then the petitioner must remain outside Switzerland while his/her petition is being considered.
But if you take into account art 17.2 and meet the requirements as stated, then you can be in the country pending the processing of the permit.

http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/142_20/a17.html
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Old 19.08.2011, 17:47
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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But if you take into account art 17.2 and meet the requirements as stated, then you can be in the country pending the processing of the permit.

http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/142_20/a17.html
Google's translate is spotty at best so I may be incorrect but that article is talking about getting your residence permit and staying the country. That's never been the issue, the issue was with staying and studying in the country as you wait for a student visa. (which as mentioned before, you legally can't).
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Old 19.08.2011, 20:51
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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Google's translate is spotty at best so I may be incorrect but that article is talking about getting your residence permit and staying the country. That's never been the issue, the issue was with staying and studying in the country as you wait for a student visa. (which as mentioned before, you legally can't).
Translation
Article 17: Regulation for staying in the country pending decision regarding permit
1. Female and male foreigners who are in Switzerland for a temporary stay and subsequently submit their request for a permanent stay permit must wait abroad while the decision is being made.
2. If the conditions for permit approval are obviously met, the responsible provincial agency may allow the foreigner to stay in Switzerland during the decision process.

Hope that helps.
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Old 19.08.2011, 23:40
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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But if you take into account art 17.2 and meet the requirements as stated, then you can be in the country pending the processing of the permit.

http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/142_20/a17.html
You can be in the country if the canton agrees, not if you decide to come over because you think you meet the requirements.
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Old 20.08.2011, 11:22
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Re: Studying "under the table"

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You can be in the country if the canton agrees, not if you decide to come over because you think you meet the requirements.
Yep. That's why I said if you meet the requirements (cantonal approval is one of them).

You can't just look at one part of the article (17.1) and not take into consideration the second part (17.2). To some people, 17.2 would be more important as it gives them the ability to remain in Switzerland while the permit is processed (provided requirements are met).

Bottom line: contact that the cantonal authorities.
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Old 22.08.2011, 03:37
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Re: Studying "under the table"

Ok - tricky issue. I've got a fair bot of experience with all of the above authorities, i.e. Uni Zurich, cantonal authorities, international consulates as we've been through a very similar situation last year.

Few key points:

i) It is illegal for you to come here before your visa has been granted and study (although you are allowed to come as a tourist).

ii) Don't expect the Uni to be on top of this situation or rely on their advice. They don't consider it any of their business and more importantly, if you get in trouble with authorities, they couldnt care less what the universites advice has been...

iii) You can easily have your permit sent to France or Germany or any neighbouring country if you already want to be in europe (we did that), but the real issue is that you will have an entry stamp when you come to the Schengen area (i.e. Switzerland). So the issue is that when you show your passport either when they issue your visa or when registering with your local ahtuorities, they will notice that you had been in the counry before your permit arrive (and they will almost certainly assume that you've been studying, against what they have told you). This could mean big trouble - well beyond missing a semester.

iv) Thing is though, that these days the borders in Europe are hardly existing at all and most likely the only time someone will want to see your passport (and stamp it) is when arriving in the Schengen area. My best advice would be to make sure that that stamp does not have a Swiss cross on it when it hit your passport - but maybe a German eagle, or French revolutionary writing. What you do after arriving in Europe is absolutely your own business - and more to the point, noone will have the ability to check what you do there...

v) When your permit arrives, have it sent to Paris, go pick it up at the Swiss embassy (and maybe enjoy the sites whil eyou're there...) and then enter Switzerland officially afterwards - ideally on the train or by car.

vi) When registering with the authorities, they will look for your passport stamp. Tell them you flew to Germany instead and had a bit of a holiday and that you arrived last week sometime by train...

vii) Everyone will be happy...
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Old 22.08.2011, 09:00
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Re: Studying "under the table"

I think it is worthwhile to apply for your student visa immediately (I think my husband's arrived within a month, we are from Alberta), and get cancellation insurance on any flights you book so you can change it if you have to.

We have found there is a lot of red tape, but ultimately it worked out for us. My husband started out in GVA, switched univerisities/cities a month in, which meant re-applying in a new canton while living here, and I arrived a few months later without visa and was approved without problem for family regroupment visa.

I think what helped us was:
1) friendliness at the offices
2) a certified bank statement demonstrating our finances
3) an attempt to follow the rules

I know it does not go this smoothly for everyone, but get your documents in order and hope for the best, they may be faster than they say.
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Old 29.08.2011, 12:30
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Re: Studying "under the table"

This is a bit off-topic, but have any of you received/found specific information on how to register for courses? And if so, where?
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