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Old 22.11.2012, 10:55
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Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

Do unpaid WHO interns need a visa, if they'll be issued a carte de legitimation upon arrival?

I ask, because I've heard conflicting information. My supervisor at WHO thinks I could just enter on a tourist visa, but my friend Google suggests otherwise. I haven't found anything definitive.

Of course, the best source would be the embassy, but it's a long holiday in the States. (Happy Thanksgiving!)
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:01
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

Possibly related:

Has anyone heard about "Carte de Legitimation D"?
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:05
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

From my understanding, you should be fine simply entering on your tourist visa, then having HR deal with your CdL. That's what I've done, in any case, as a UN consultant (US citizen) - don't imagine it's any different for you.
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:13
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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From my understanding, you should be fine simply entering on your tourist visa, then having HR deal with your CdL. That's what I've done, in any case, as a UN consultant (US citizen) - don't imagine it's any different for you.
Fair enough. Thank you both for the responses!

I'm curious if others have had a different experience, because of the conflicting information I've heard.
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:46
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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Fair enough. Thank you both for the responses!

I'm curious if others have had a different experience, because of the conflicting information I've heard.
Maybe if you described this conflicting information?
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:52
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

As an American, you do not need a visa to enter as a tourist.

To enter to start an internship, the embassy issues a visa, usually immediately, based on your offer letter from the WHO.
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Old 22.11.2012, 11:56
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

For example,

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_4361.html

"If you are traveling for reasons other than business or tourism (such as employment, study, internship, etc.):

You may need to obtain a visa before you leave the U.S. depending on the host country and port of entry to the Schengen Zone."

Which is maddeningly ambiguous but does suggest that an internship is something other than "business or tourism" covered by a tourist visa.
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:04
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

Internship International Organization - Carte de legitimation

Quote:
The process is as follows:
You arrive to Switzerland on a tourist visa (that is, unless you already are in Switzerland or have any other legal means of getting into Switzerland).

On the first day of your employment / internship, and upon signing the contract, you are given the forms to fill out for the carte. You will also attach to these a photocopy of the document authorizing you to stay in Switzerland / Schengen Area.

The organization then sends the paperwork off to DFAE (Department federal des affaires etrangeres - or so it says on my carte, anyway!).

You will receive the carte in about two weeks.

You will have the H carte, which does not grant you immunity from prosecution or access to the Swiss labour market. The first provision changes depending on the seniority of the carte holder.

Note that exceptions to expedite the above process are possible, but are unlikely to apply to interns.
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:15
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

What jrspet quoted is exactly how the process has gone for everyone I know working in a UN or UN-affiliated organization (as long as you are a citizen of a country which is able to enter Switzerland as a tourist sans visa). You will not be able to receive the CdL before entering the country.

Kosti's advice applies to most other employment processes, but the CdL is a specialized process (quick and easy!).
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:17
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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What jrspet quoted is exactly how the process has gone for everyone I know working in a UN or UN-affiliated organization (as long as you are a citizen of a country which is able to enter Switzerland as a tourist sans visa). You will not be able to receive the CdL before entering the country.

Koesti's advice applies to most other employment processes, but the CdL is a specialized process (quick and easy!).
Very helpful. Thank you all! I'll be sure to follow up with the local consulate and try to confirm these details. I'll post what I find out for the benefit of future interns.
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:17
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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For example,

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_4361.html

"If you are traveling for reasons other than business or tourism (such as employment, study, internship, etc.):

You may need to obtain a visa before you leave the U.S. depending on the host country and port of entry to the Schengen Zone."

Which is maddeningly ambiguous but does suggest that an internship is something other than "business or tourism" covered by a tourist visa.
Keywords are in bold. For example, coming from Brazil or India, you need a visa just to enter the country. Americans, Canadians and Australians are allowed 3 months' stay.

That being said, try not to mention at customs that you are seeking employment in Switzerland. Although what you are doing is not illegal, it will likely arouse some level of suspicion.
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:20
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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That being said, try not to mention at customs that you are seeking employment in Switzerland. Although what you are doing is not illegal, it will likely arouse some level of suspicion.
Hahaha... My wife asked me just before you posted this: "What would we say at customs"?
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Old 22.11.2012, 12:33
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

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What jrspet quoted is exactly how the process has gone for everyone I know working in a UN or UN-affiliated organization (as long as you are a citizen of a country which is able to enter Switzerland as a tourist sans visa). You will not be able to receive the CdL before entering the country.

Kosti's advice applies to most other employment processes, but the CdL is a specialized process (quick and easy!).
For an American, a visa to start working at an international organisation like the WHO (directly issued by the embassy) is very different from a visa to start working in the general Swiss labour market (needs work permit issued by the Swiss canton where the employer is), but needed nonetheless.

As I said a visa to start work at WHO is issued immediately, or in a few days at most, but for other employment processes it takes months if not years. Back in 2008, my partner could already freely enter Switzerland, but needed a Schengen type C+D (now replaced by Schengen type D I think) visa by the UK embassy in a day based on her WHO offer letter.

The CDL is issued only after you start work at the WHO, and comes to you via the WHO.
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Old 25.11.2012, 20:02
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Re: Visa Requirements for a WHO Intern

To future (American) interns:

Even as an unpaid intern for an international organization like WHO, you NEED a Schengan short stay (C) visa. Check with your local Swiss mission for specific requirements, but these requirements generally include a flight itinerary, bank statements (demonstrating sufficient funds to the tune of about ~$100 per day you'll be in Geneva), proof of accommodation, and the official confirmation letter from WHO. Overall, it's a very straightforward process, and all fees are waived.

Once you arrive in Geneva, WHO will help you apply for a "carte de legitimation" (CdL). The CdL gives you permission to work in Geneva (even if it's upaid work). It's NOT the same thing as a C visa. You have to have a C visa before you can get your CdL (at least, officially--I acknowledge others might have been able to get by with just a tourist visa).

This information has been confirmed by several past interns and their correspondences with the Swiss embassy in San Francisco. But please confirm the details yourself. If you have any questions about interning with WHO, feel free to shoot me a message.

Thank you to everyone who helped answer my question!
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