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Old 01.08.2012, 17:00
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Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

I am an American citizen, just completed my M.A. at an internationally renowned university (also well-respected here in Switzerland) and am beginning to search for a paid internship or a job in Switzerland. In the U.S. I would be considered to be quite qualified to work at an entry to mid-level position, but I know that for Americans in Switzerland it is very hard to find work.

My question is: Am I stupid for trying? I've already been told, after three months of interviews with a Geneva-based NGO that although I was very well qualified they had found an EU/Swiss citizen with equal qualifications and could not offer me the position because of this reason. I'm very motivated to find work here, so I'd love to hear about other experiences from anyone who has been in my shoes.

Has anyone had a similar experience job searching? How long did it take you?



(Apologies if this post seems to be in the wrong forum. It seems that for me, the issue is permit/visa related).
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Old 01.08.2012, 17:07
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Welcome to the forum.

Plenty of Americans ( and other non-EU nationals from eg India, Australia ) have found work here, beating candidates from the EU or local ones as this is the preference. Usually, but not always, they are skilled, experienced and are able to meet the Cantonal requirements to be granted a work permit once their prospective employer can show proof that the non-EU ought to be employed.

http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/...gehoerige.html

Quote:
In view of the conclusion of bilateral agreements with the EU on the free movement of persons, Switzerland introduced a dual system of recruiting foreign labour as long ago as 1 November 1998. Under the system, people from EU and EFTA member states are granted priority admission to the Swiss labour market over people from other countries. According to the provisions of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which came into force on 1 June 2002, Switzerland and the EU have agreed to implement the complete freedom of movement of persons by 2014.
This American apparently made the mark.
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Old 01.08.2012, 23:18
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

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I am an American citizen, just completed my M.A. at an internationally renowned university (also well-respected here in Switzerland) and am beginning to search for a paid internship or a job in Switzerland. In the U.S. I would be considered to be quite qualified to work at an entry to mid-level position, but I know that for Americans in Switzerland it is very hard to find work.

My question is: Am I stupid for trying? I've already been told, after three months of interviews with a Geneva-based NGO that although I was very well qualified they had found an EU/Swiss citizen with equal qualifications and could not offer me the position because of this reason. I'm very motivated to find work here, so I'd love to hear about other experiences from anyone who has been in my shoes.

Has anyone had a similar experience job searching? How long did it take you?



(Apologies if this post seems to be in the wrong forum. It seems that for me, the issue is permit/visa related).
Unless you:

1) Possess a very unique skill that cannot be found in the EU/Swiss job market
2) Are applying for a job in an SMI or very large multinational company that can pull a lot of strings in the Cantonal government (don't think NGOs pull much clout in Cantonal Tax Receipts)
3) Marry an EU/Swiss citizen

Your chances of securing a permanent residency and work permit in Switzerland are extremely small.

I myself am non-EU and secured my L, B and now C Permit via number 2.
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Old 02.08.2012, 16:55
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

American citizen here and I managed by total luck. I had intended to migrate to another country to work for a company which had an arrangement for me to come work in CH for two years. After the two years, i sort of ditched the old company and got a permanent job here
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Old 02.08.2012, 23:37
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

It is hard, because the company that hires you has to prove that they could not find a better match in the EU.

It is not so much that small companies do not have ability to prove this, but that they do not know how to go about the process. The big international companies have more experience with the process, therefore are more inclined to hiring non EU.

Your skills might not need to be so unique, if you are really the best candidate, the company will be able to show the documentation that proves it, or in the worst case ull strings or adjust the job description
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Old 14.08.2012, 18:01
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Thanks to everyone for the replies! I will keep trying for a job as long as I'm allowed to. :-)
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Old 14.08.2012, 18:27
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

I'll add my voice to the choir.

I also graduated with an MSc when I started my search in Switzerland and no unique/well-honed skill sets, just some good academic qualifications, less than 1 year experience and lots of eagerness and drive!

It took me a year to find something.

The first 4-5 months were not fruitful and very depressing.

Then, a small NGO initiated the work permit process for me for an unpaid 4-month internship (something!).

Six months later, it was rejected for completely unwarranted reasons but there was nothing I could do about it (not to mention my would-be employer was charged).

As a last resort, I went back and contacted people working in the UN that I had met by proactively attending conferences and such. Long story short, a consultancy position was created for me and I'm now in my 7th month of employment.

Moral of my story: Luck with a bit of hard work.

Good luck to you!

What's your background by the way?
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Old 14.08.2012, 18:33
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Wow, great to hear from someone who was in similar shoes. Luck with a bit of hard work is what I'm hoping for, though I'm staying with some very good Swiss friends who are trying to help me out with the job search as well. Who knows if that will help.

I just finished my M.A. at the University of Chicago in the Social Sciences. My M.A. thesis was a close examination of the popular initiative system in place in Switzerland alongside the integration system used for non-citizens, so I'm pretty familiar with the Swiss democratic system.

Before that I was a survey archaeologist in the U.S. southwest.


Another question for anyone who can give an answer: What is considered "skilled" labor at the moment in Switzerland? It seems like companies are mostly looking for candidates to fill IT positions (that, or banking...).
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Old 14.08.2012, 18:36
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

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Social Sciences.
Good luck....
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Old 14.08.2012, 18:39
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Yeah, thanks... I realize my degree is considered pretty useless these days, but it's what I have to work with...

If I could go back and change my mind as an 18 year old Bachelor's student I would.
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Old 15.08.2012, 11:58
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Wow MS in Social science.... you really have to search hard to get the right job in your speciality...then comes the permit application which is even more stringent.... but hey give it a try..

Best wishes...
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Old 15.08.2012, 15:11
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

I guess the paperwork (=cost) required to hire a Swiss/EU person is much less troublesome than getting a non-EU person for a job.

Besides, there are more than enough capable people in the EU/Switzerland so the chances are as said above minimal to have certain qualifications which are not found elsewhere in Europe. After all, Europe is kind of highly developed
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Old 15.08.2012, 16:12
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Re: Is securing a work visa as an American just luck?

Try to focus on some of the UN specialized agencies (there are many in Geneva) - it's your best bet as the carte de legitimation (work/residence permit aka the golden ticket) process takes 2-3 weeks and you can begin work in the meantime. And remember, it's not always what you know, but who you know - network, network, network!

Also, do you speak any other languages? If not, learn. Speaking one language here is the exception rather than the norm.

Edit: just noticed French and Spanish and German on your profile, great!

Last edited by M. Ploymi; 15.08.2012 at 17:25.
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