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Old 14.01.2013, 07:04
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family reunification visa, FBI background check?

hello there. I just got married to my Swiss husband barely a week ago here in San Francisco. I am American and we have filed our paperwork in San Francisco Swiss embassy. The Visa lady here informed us to check the local Canton (Bern) if they would require an FBI background check. My husband called the local office in Bern and they said to ask the Swiss Embassy here in San Francisco. In short, no one knows!!

I am dying to be with my husband and trying to finish all the paperwork as early as possible. Has someone had any similar experience? reading through the forum, it seems like its needed for employment as well. Would it just be wise to get it anyway? Please advise.

I am also wondering how long it took for the visa to arrive, the visa ladies said about 8-10 weeks. I pray to the visa Gods that it will be shorter.
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Old 14.01.2013, 09:24
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Yes, I would get one and also a local police check as well. It's basically a check that you don't have a criminal record or anything and they do like to see them here.

I would think the lady at the embassy is right so I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer before moving here. But look on the bright side, you can do more research so you're better prepared for the move over.

One thing you do need to look at is the new FATCA law that the US is introducing and the effect it's having on Americans abroad. There are several threads here about the problems Americans have been having with Swiss banks over granting/keeping their accounts so it's something you and your new husband need to know about and decide how best to tackle. You are required by US law to continue filing US tax returns even though you've left the country, as is he if he is a green card holder.
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Old 14.01.2013, 11:28
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

To get the record of your misdeeds in Switzerland, take a photocopy of your Swiss ID, or passport to any post office counter. You complete a simple form, pay the fee, and the certificate is posted to your home address within a few days.
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Old 14.01.2013, 11:36
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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hello there. I just got married to my Swiss husband barely a week ago here in San Francisco. I am American and we have filed our paperwork in San Francisco Swiss embassy. The Visa lady here informed us to check the local Canton (Bern) if they would require an FBI background check. My husband called the local office in Bern and they said to ask the Swiss Embassy here in San Francisco. In short, no one knows!!

I am dying to be with my husband and trying to finish all the paperwork as early as possible. Has someone had any similar experience? reading through the forum, it seems like its needed for employment as well. Would it just be wise to get it anyway? Please advise.

I am also wondering how long it took for the visa to arrive, the visa ladies said about 8-10 weeks. I pray to the visa Gods that it will be shorter.
Yes, an FBI background check is a standard piece of paper to have when you register with the canton (not for the visa). It's mostly easy to get - http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks - just go to your local police station to get fingerprinted and send that with applicable forms to the FBI. I think we got our (clean) rap sheets back after 6ish weeks. No one in our cantonal office asked for a copy, but I have had friends who have been asked for it, so just go ahead and get it.

Good luck!
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Old 14.01.2013, 18:04
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

I don't live in Bern, but I was required to get an FBI background check. I want to say it took about 8 weeks to receive.

It could take longer (or take less time) depending on how busy the department is, and whether or not your finger prints are done correctly, and how long your wrap sheet is

The FBI website suggests 'Have multiple sets of fingerprints taken' .

I will tell you from my experience, the finger print technician was having trouble getting good prints. Mine were done digitally, and I guess the scanner didn't like my fingers So, I did have a couple of different sets taken.

While you're at the police station, go ahead and get a local background check done as well. I did, and it was quick and easy. It's always better to have it, just in case !


As for the visa time, mileage varies. It took me much, much, much longer
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Old 14.01.2013, 19:08
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Wow, when I moved here from the US with my Swiss husband three months ago, I didn't have to do any sort of background check or anything.

Plus, the Amt für Migration said I could enter on a tourist visa, and then get my permit once I was here (as long as I did so within the 90 days). My whole process took two trips to the Amt, and then I got my permit three days after that.

Are you applying for the long-term visa (D)? Any reason not to just get a B and re-up for a few years?
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Old 15.01.2013, 08:44
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Thank you all so much for your kind advise. I got two sets of fingerprints done and i have to send it myself to the FBI to get "apostille". I dont know what to put in the space that says "ORI", the FBI website says "originating agency identifier". The technician that took my fingerprints didnt know which one it would be since its a requirement for Swiss Visa..if anyone has any idea what it is, i would appreciate it. I have been searching the websites hi and low and i have not come accross what it could possibly be and FBI does not have any 1800 number for these things..arrggh!!

I am definitely going to look up the new banking FATCA laws, as soon as i square away some of these paperworks.

I have no idea about the "B" visa. Honestly, we just followed what the embassy in San Francisco told us to do. What is the B visa and would that be an easier/shorter route than the D visa?

Thank you, thank you again for taking the time to reply and help me out. I really appreciate it. One day at a time.
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Old 15.01.2013, 08:52
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Visa = used to enter Switzerland.

Permit = used for employment and residence in Switzerland. Permit can be an L, B, C and several others.

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

http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/...gehoerige.html
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Old 15.01.2013, 09:57
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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Visa = used to enter Switzerland.

Permit = used for employment and residence in Switzerland. Permit can be an L, B, C and several others.

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

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

But has anyone else entered on the tourist visa and then gotten a permit while here? I can't imagine having to wait for months just to enter--and the Amt (in Zug...not sure about Bern) specifically said it was fine to do it that way. Seems like that would save the OP a lot of time.
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Old 15.01.2013, 12:16
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Hi and welcome to the Forum! I'm a U.S. citizen married to a Swiss and living in Bern, so hopefully my experience will help you. In a nutshell:

1. Got married in the U.S. and submitted paperwork via San Fran. Moved here one week later and entered as a tourist. Showed our marriage license and copy of paperwork for permit to the immigration officials and they were happy. Note: We were able to have me enter as a tourist without a problem because we were already married and had already started the paperwork.

2. Registered our marriage with OH's heimatort (home village) under my maiden name. Got the family papework - no longer a book but just a few sheets of paper - on the spot. I forget exactly how it goes, but Bern gets the documents from San Fran, sends to the heimatort for verification, and then processes if all is okay.

3. Changed passport and most other documentation to my married name from here. Only problem is my U.S. driver's license. My state requires name changes to be done in person, and I haven't been back. Thankfully it does not expire for a few more years. No problem here. Got a Swiss license under my maiden name right away and then changed to married name once the new passport arrived. Eye test required, but not driving test.

4. Only did a local background check, not FBI. One official at the heimatort asked us to see it, but glanced at it and saw there was nothing so handed it back.

5. Permit originally came under maiden name about 6 weeks after moving here. Got new permit with married name after passport came through.

Much more I could tell you, but probably better via PM. Also not sure where your hubby's heimatort is and if that will cause you any delays. Hope it all works out!
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Old 15.01.2013, 12:28
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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Sorry.

But has anyone else entered on the tourist visa and then gotten a permit while here? I can't imagine having to wait for months just to enter--and the Amt (in Zug...not sure about Bern) specifically said it was fine to do it that way. Seems like that would save the OP a lot of time.
I know of someone who entered as a tourist, set up house etc. and then when the visa was approved, had to physically go back to the Swiss consul in London (Where the application was submitted) and hand over US passports for 24 hours for them to insert the permit page. Not that big a deal since it was London, It would have been a huge deal if it had been a consulate in the US or Canada.

My understanding is that this isn't the correct way to do it and could cause all sorts of problems with registering kids for public school, signing a lease in your name etc. The other possible problem was that if the permit had been held up of denied for some reason, they would have been illegal after the 90 days.

FYI you can't even get a mobile phone contract in CH without a residence permit.

To the best of my knowledge, the FBI fingerprint requirement is a standard requirement for issuance of the permit. And it seems to take anywhere from 1-3 months from application to issuance.
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Old 15.01.2013, 17:20
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

OP--don't follow any of my advice!

Sounds like I just got lucky, or maybe my canton has different rules/ways of doing things.

I humbly defer to 3Wishes and Desert Rat and the people who know more about this stuff than I do, and wish you good luck!
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Old 15.01.2013, 19:46
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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OP--don't follow any of my advice!

Sounds like I just got lucky, or maybe my canton has different rules/ways of doing things.

I humbly defer to 3Wishes and Desert Rat and the people who know more about this stuff than I do, and wish you good luck!
I doubt that I know any more than you, but the process is probably a little different for different Cantons, or if you happen to be married to a Swiss.

Clarification; The thing in the passport that was put in at the consulate was a "Visa" which was good for approx. 3 months. It seems kinda redundant since you can be here 90 days anyway on just the blue book of freedom (US passport) but they probably use the same format for people who come from other countries with different tourist requirements or whatever. But after that was issued, then the residence permit came in the mail later.

Anyway, the point is, if you're American, the visa/permit process required a criminal background check that involves your fingerprints being sent off to the FBI.

DR
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Old 15.01.2013, 22:58
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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OP--don't follow any of my advice!

Sounds like I just got lucky, or maybe my canton has different rules/ways of doing things.

I humbly defer to 3Wishes and Desert Rat and the people who know more about this stuff than I do, and wish you good luck!
You did not get lucky. We followed the process by the book and it was never mentioned that such a requirement even existed...for family reunification permits at least. Im not sure about the process to apply for an individual permit though.

Good luck OP!!!
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Old 16.01.2013, 17:55
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

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...Anyway, the point is, if you're American, the visa/permit process required a criminal background check that involves your fingerprints being sent off to the FBI...
This was not the case for me, and I was in exactly the situation OP is in now...but that was a few years ago. I did have to go into the cantonal office and give fingerprints and get a photo taken, but I don't know if they sent those prints to the FBI. I certainly had nothing to do with the FBI and I kind of doubt the canton of Bern exchanges info with them either. But who knows?
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Old 16.01.2013, 18:20
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

Beats me. We were in London when the Swiss process started and the whole family (including minor children) had to go to New Scotland Yard and get fingerprints done. They were very specific that they were going to be sent the the FBI in the states, and that it was the American background check that would be sent to the Swiss as part of the permit process.

That was actually the second time I've been through the same thing. Before I left the states, I had to go through the fingerprint process at a customs/immigration office, and then a background check was forwarded to the British to get the UK visa/permit.

This was all handled by a law firm in Zurich. It all worked out in the end, but it did take a while.
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Old 18.01.2013, 07:00
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

thank you for the clarification.
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Old 18.01.2013, 07:10
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

thank you for the details. the embassy here in san francisco told me i can still enter switzerland as a tourist but will need to enter switzerland again using the visa when it comes. if i knew i can just have all the name changes done there i would have not sent in my passport. ill just look at the silver lining and use the time to prepare as suggested. thank you, thank you. hope we bump into each other in bern one of these days.
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Old 23.01.2014, 12:00
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

The best thing to do is this. I actually came to this forum before I got mine done for moving from USA to here (Zurich) last year.

I used a site called myfbireport.com. They were official and done within 2 days to get my background report back!!!! It was amazing and only cost a little extra... no wait time and had it expidited. You go to your local police station or an official fingerprinting place to get them to the cards, you send your prints in and then they send back the report. All the check list is on the site actually for the myfbireport.com - its so smooth and easy to use and worked for me to move here.

For translation of the fbi report I used Fox Translate which is an online service, you upload, then they translate within a few days... it literally took me about 5 days TOTAL to have it all done and sent and I was 100% approved to move to Switzerland within a month from the US embassy and Swiss Embassy. I now am here for good


Hope this helps anyone searching for a quick and easy way to get sorted on your background and translations!!!!
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Old 23.01.2014, 15:34
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Re: family reunification visa, FBI background check?

To add my two cents...

I am an American, who was residing in London and recently married my husband (a UK national living in Zurich). I was told by my future employer that I would need a police certification to register in the Kreis. I dutifully got one and brought it into the office in Oerlikon when I registered earlier this month. It wasn't necessary.

So, in my case a police record wasn't required. But I personally would err on the side of caution... and give yourself more time than you think to sort all of the paperwork.

Best of luck!
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