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Old 15.09.2014, 22:20
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Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Hi All,

I am a U.S. citizen, married to an EU citizen. My husband recently accepted a job in Geneva and we just applied for a Type D visa and applied for family reunification for me to join him. His company is concurrently applying for residence permits for both of us. We have a number of questions related to collecting the family reunification visa once authorization is granted.

I applied for the visa in the U.S. but have no clarity on the requirements to collecting the visa; ideally I would like to depart with him and enter as a tourist and either collect the Type D visa in Switzerland if possible, in another country in Europe, or in another country outside the Shengen zone like Turkey. Must I collect the visa back in the U.S? I've had different answers from the Swiss Embassy in the United States versus immigration services in Switzerland.

Also we believe he will be granted a Type B visa; does anyone know if this would also give me the right to work as well?
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Old 15.09.2014, 22:28
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

People have different experiences of this. Technically you shouldn't leave the US without the D visa in your hand. There was a case recently Need advice....[permit/visa questions] of a guy who arrived without it and was sent get to the US to get it. Yet some people have got away with arriving without it. Personally I'd wait!

Maybe you can organise with the Swiss US embassy to pick it up in London? But organise it before you leave the US.
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Old 15.09.2014, 22:47
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

As IM says there is differing versions going around.

Since you are married to an EU citizen it shouldn't be a problem to pick up the visa a Swiss embassy outside of Switzerland. No visas can be picked up in Switzerland. Most people go to Stuttgart or Paris.

But since you are living outside the EU then it's hard to say. The linked to thread above is different as the guy came on his own not married to an EU citizen.

If your husband gets an B permit, which is likely, then you'll get the same as him, an EU B and you will have the right to work.

If I were you I'd got back and tell them you'll be picking up the visa in blank (pick your embassy, Turkey isn't necessary) and see what they say.
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Old 15.09.2014, 23:09
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

The d (entry) visa should be issued quite promptly. Are you sure the employer is following the EU rules for the work permit - because EU can just walk it but you need the right paperwork.

Technically it all should be handled via the Swiss embassy where you are currently located, but the best advise will be found from the Swiss embassy/consulate general for the country where your husband is from - so if he is UK then you should get into contact with the Swiss embassy in the UK. You may find it much easier to go to Switzerland via the UK (for example) if you really do not want to wait in the USA...
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Old 14.07.2015, 23:29
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Reviving this thread to ask if there is any difference when your spouse is Swiss.

My spouse is dual Swiss/German and we are moving to Zurich in a few weeks for a job he has already secured.
We unwisely followed the advice of Swiss/American friends (who worked in immigration in Switzerland!) who told us I would have no problem entering as a tourist and then getting a B permit. We now realize this is not the case and I need the D visa, but we have run out of time to get it in the US.
My husband called the Zurich migrationsamt yesterday and someone said I should enter as a tourist and apply for the D visa in person and expect to leave and re-enter when it is issued.
We are not planning on changing our tickets, so I am prepared to either enter as a tourist and leave when my visa is issued (hopefully to Germany) to get it and reenter, or stay in Germany with family as a tourist until my visa is issued (once again, hopefully to Germany) and then reenter.

Since my husband is a German citizen, is it reasonable to think I won't have a problem getting my D visa issued to as Swiss consulate in Germany?
Has anyone with an EU or Swiss spouse ever been sent home to pick up a D Visa (specifically to the US?)
Last question... I'm wondering if anyone who had luck and was issued a B permit without the D visa could share their experience. Like I said, I realize its unlikely, but just wondering if there is anything I could do beforehand to have a better chance.
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Old 15.07.2015, 22:02
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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Reviving this thread to ask if there is any difference when your spouse is Swiss...Since my husband is a German citizen, is it reasonable to think I won't have a problem getting my D visa issued to as Swiss consulate in Germany?...Has anyone with an EU or Swiss spouse ever been sent home to pick up a D Visa (specifically to the US?)
Last question... I'm wondering if anyone who had luck and was issued a B permit without the D visa could share their experience. Like I said, I realize its unlikely, but just wondering if there is anything I could do beforehand to have a better chance.
It seems to vary widely depending on municipality and sometimes even on the person doing the paperwork. We've had members here that had to return to their home countries for the D-visa, and members that were able to go to Germany to get it stamped in the passport. We've even had a few that entered as tourists and got a B-permit without any D-visa.

At this point, just try your luck - but make sure you have all your documents in order (birth certificates, marriage license, etc.) so that the paperwork can move quickly. You don't want to run out of the 90 days as a tourist, because that applies to all of Shengen, of which Germany is part.

I entered as a tourist without the D-visa, but we'd started the family reunification paperwork in advance and sent it through the nearest consulate. Since we were staying in the home canton, and my OH still has close ties to his Heimatort, we also got them involved to help move the paperwork along. I should emphasize it's not necessary to involve them, though. I just mention it because we found it helpful.

I registered at the municipality within the 14 days, got my health insurance sorted, etc. The permit was issued about 6 weeks later. This was 5 years ago, and in canton Bern. YMMV in Zurich.

Good luck!
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Old 17.07.2015, 01:32
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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My husband called the Zurich migrationsamt yesterday and someone said I should enter as a tourist and apply for the D visa in person and expect to leave and re-enter when it is issued.
I am very happy to hear that you were told this from the Zurich Migrationsamt. I had applied and received a D-visa but then my passport lapsed and I had to delay the flights two weeks to sort out my passport ("damaged" too... much longer process). Wife tried by phone and me through email and didn't get anything solid. I am flying in in six days and hoping for no issues... I saw the conflicting posts about this working out were in favour of newer posters, so your reply gives me even more hope! Got married in March and have already spent more time apart than together

Will have to make a review thread when I am done because so few posters followup with what happened to them and many of the helpful posters on here rely on our case studies to help others!
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Old 23.07.2015, 13:05
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

I applied for the Family Reunification Visa while in the U.S. and came to Switzerland on a tourist visa, thinking that worst case I would fly back to the U.S. and collect the paperwork and re-enter. My husband has an Irish passport and was granted a B permit- which is what I was eventually granted as well. We were able to collect my permit at the Canton in Geneva. There was some extra paperwork that his employer handled for us to make this possible; I think it is also not the preferred way of doing things, but they accommodated the request. The process took just over three months to complete. Just watch your time in the Shengen Zone; My processing time took longer than three months but once I knew it was approved I could stay while they issued the actual ID card, which took slightly longer to complete. I did not have to re-enter or pick up a visa anywhere, the B permit/card acts as a visa. As others have stated, every case and canton is different; this was my experience hope it helps!
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Old 27.07.2015, 20:49
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

So you need to be there in person to receive the D-permit, it is not mailed to one's home???

Crazy... the consulate responsible for my part of Canada is a 7 hour drive from my home - arrgh! There was no information whatsoever about how the process works on our consulate website - man I hate dealing with immigration stuff, they are always so difficult!

Definitiely flying to London or taking the train to Paris would be easier :-)
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Old 27.07.2015, 21:38
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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So you need to be there in person to receive the D-permit, it is not mailed to one's home???

Crazy... the consulate responsible for my part of Canada is a 7 hour drive from my home - arrgh! There was no information whatsoever about how the process works on our consulate website - man I hate dealing with immigration stuff, they are always so difficult!

Definitiely flying to London or taking the train to Paris would be easier :-)
Why would they mail it to your home. It's stamped into your passport which is why you need it to enter Switzerland long term.

When did you apply for the visa, i.e. how long ago? You could ask your embassy whether it would be possible to mail your passport to them to then stamp the visa in it and then return the passport to you, but I don't know how long that might take them.
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Old 27.07.2015, 22:51
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Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

When i got mine 8 years ago, i express mailed my passport to atlanta, a ( i was in the SE US) and they process visas in several places in the US. I prepaid express mail for the return and it took two days to get my passport with the visa reutrned to me.

ETA - my husband, as an EU citizen got a travel document and he entered with that. I entered Switzerland with just 2 weeks left on my 90 day visa - my father died in the middle of this so it was a little hectic....my husband came to Switzerland two months before i did.

Last edited by edot; 27.07.2015 at 23:08.
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Old 26.08.2015, 16:44
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

As an American who is the spouse of a Swiss citizen, I did not need a visa to get a residence permit. I merely showed up, registered and then dealt with the immigration office in Zurich. Whole thing took about a month to sort out, but they told me if it took longer, I could still stay in the country as long as my permit application was pending. Just got my permit today.
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Old 26.08.2015, 16:58
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Zurich migration office must have either been feeling kind that day or else it's because you're married to a Swiss citizen. Usually they insist you go to another country to get your Type D visa to enter Switzerland long term.
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Old 28.08.2015, 16:49
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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Zurich migration office must have either been feeling kind that day or else it's because you're married to a Swiss citizen. Usually they insist you go to another country to get your Type D visa to enter Switzerland long term.
If married to a Swiss you can indeed dispense with the D visa in Zurich. It's not "official" but they will do it without any complaint. When I rang them last year to ask if my non-EU wife could do it they asked me "are you Swiss - ok, no problem"
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Old 08.09.2015, 04:34
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

We called our Cantonal office and they transferred all our paperwork to Stuttgard instead of back in Montreal, to save us the trip. Yay!

Now my kids and I just arrived in CH today with tourist visas and had planned to go to collect the D visas and then maybe leave Schemgen and renter if necessary. We went to register etc at the town and Canton this morning and it seems we will not even need the D visa! It all seems a bit chaotic for a place I thought was crazy for the rules :-D

Do we need the D visas in our passports for any other reason though? Once we have our residence permits are we good for any and all situations, anyone know?Like traveling around Europe or going in and out of CH for day trips or shopping, whatever...
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Old 08.09.2015, 08:20
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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We called our Cantonal office and they transferred all our paperwork to Stuttgard instead of back in Montreal, to save us the trip. Yay!

Now my kids and I just arrived in CH today with tourist visas and had planned to go to collect the D visas and then maybe leave Schemgen and renter if necessary. We went to register etc at the town and Canton this morning and it seems we will not even need the D visa! It all seems a bit chaotic for a place I thought was crazy for the rules :-D

Do we need the D visas in our passports for any other reason though? Once we have our residence permits are we good for any and all situations, anyone know?Like traveling around Europe or going in and out of CH for day trips or shopping, whatever...
Not really, the permit acts as a permanent visa once it's been issued to you. However, you're going to be charged for the Type D visa anyway so you may as well go and get it.
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Old 10.09.2015, 05:00
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Hi all,

I'm starting to worry that our situation is kind of strange (and therefore incorrect), so I wanted to post here to see whether our scenario had happened to other people before.

I have a French passport, and am starting a job in Zurich on Oct. 1st. We are moving Sept. 20th. My wife (who is American) is coming with me. My new HR in Switzerland, who has been very helpful by email, claims to have applied for a visa for her at the canton migration office in early August, and told me that she could enter as a tourist if the processing was not finished by then.

Here's where I'm feeling worried now. I don't know if she applied for a VISA, or a residence PERMIT that assumed that we were going to apply for a visa separately and have that in hand once we arrived. Obviously, I'm emailing her now to ask her, but wanted to ask your advice while I wait to hear back.

We did double-check with her several times that we shouldn't need to be doing anything with the consulate, and she said she was doing the relevant work. This is a large, international, government-run research facility, so I guess I assumed she knew what she was talking about, and that they'd figured out the visa situation for people like us many times before. Reading this thread though, I am worried she gave us incorrect information.

We are leaving soon now, so I'm actually relatively worried. I suppose we could always just start the D visa application with our local consulate by mail tomorrow, just to have begun the process before we leave, and pick it up in Paris/Stuttgart. My overall question for the forum, however, is whether anyone has ever had the entire process handled by their HR, as my HR claims to be doing. I would feel much better if I knew this was at least a possibility. Thanks!
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Old 10.09.2015, 08:56
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

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Hi all,

I'm starting to worry that our situation is kind of strange (and therefore incorrect), so I wanted to post here to see whether our scenario had happened to other people before.

I have a French passport, and am starting a job in Zurich on Oct. 1st. We are moving Sept. 20th. My wife (who is American) is coming with me. My new HR in Switzerland, who has been very helpful by email, claims to have applied for a visa for her at the canton migration office in early August, and told me that she could enter as a tourist if the processing was not finished by then.

Here's where I'm feeling worried now. I don't know if she applied for a VISA, or a residence PERMIT that assumed that we were going to apply for a visa separately and have that in hand once we arrived. Obviously, I'm emailing her now to ask her, but wanted to ask your advice while I wait to hear back.

We did double-check with her several times that we shouldn't need to be doing anything with the consulate, and she said she was doing the relevant work. This is a large, international, government-run research facility, so I guess I assumed she knew what she was talking about, and that they'd figured out the visa situation for people like us many times before. Reading this thread though, I am worried she gave us incorrect information.

We are leaving soon now, so I'm actually relatively worried. I suppose we could always just start the D visa application with our local consulate by mail tomorrow, just to have begun the process before we leave, and pick it up in Paris/Stuttgart. My overall question for the forum, however, is whether anyone has ever had the entire process handled by their HR, as my HR claims to be doing. I would feel much better if I knew this was at least a possibility. Thanks!
You are quite right, your HR is handling the application for the permit, but not the visa. This is something your wife has to organise herself. The Type D visa allows her to enter Switzerland long term legally, i.e. for more than the 90 days allowed as a tourist.

You have two choices: either start the paperwork before you leave and ask that the visa be picked up at the US embassy in Germany, France or the UK (this assumes they'll get it done within the 90 days) - or she comes in as a tourist and you try and get the Zurich migration office to issue one once she's there. Bear in mind though that Zurich has been strict recently about applying the rule on this and may well insist that she leaves Switzerland to get the visa. Also bear in mind that her 90 days as a tourist covers the whole of the Schengen Area and not just Switzerland so if she's near her 90 day limit she may have to return to the US and wait there or go to the UK which is outside Schengen to wait.
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Old 10.09.2015, 20:03
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Thanks, Medea.

Just to put some context into it, the work permit page for my new employer does actually say "If your stay exceeds 90 days we will have to obtain the required permit for you. If you require a visa for entry into Switzerland we will take care of the visa application." So it sounds like it may be possible that they have applied for a visa, although I'm concerned that they're not giving me a straight answer, which (to me) means confusion on their part, and isn't comforting.

We're thinking of overnighting all the documents to the consulate in San Francisco in the next 24 hrs just to have something started that we can depend on. Anyone see a downside to having a potential 2 visa applications for the same person underway? If the worst that will happen is they'll yell at us for causing complications, I'm absolutely fine with that -- if we can have the peace of mind to know that one application will go through.

Finally, can you clarify something for me about the residence permit? I was under the impression that when you arrived, you showed up at the Kanton (or Kreis) office within 2 weeks, applied for a permit, and were issued one eventually. What does it mean that the company would have applied for a residence permit without us being in the country yet? Is that just something that speeds up the process, or is it a different thing from the registration at the Kanton/Kreis? And if it is the same thing, does that mean that my HR would need to have spoken to the relevant cantonal office where we will live, and they will get confused if we go to a different one? Or are these things relatively transferable?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 12.09.2016, 00:56
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Re: Picking-up Family Reunification Visa Outside of U.S.

Hi everyone,

Well, it's been a year now and all the logistical stuff that was so stressful a year ago has definitely settled! Given how much I liked seeing the "sigh of relief" update posts of other people's experiences, I'm here to post my own.

First -- a very public, very grateful thank-you to Medea Fleecestealer, who offered much wise and calming advice via forum and PM. This forum is really made excellent by people like you.

Here is what we did:
  • I have an EU passport; my wife has a US one. My job in Switzerland applied for residence permits for us through Canton Aargau. My new job told us clearly that they were handling all required paperwork and we didn't need to do anything else ourselves. We had to submit marriage certificates, passport copies, etc.
  • We didn't initially apply for a visa for my wife. About a month before leaving, we called the Swiss consulate in San Francisco to double-check. They told us that my wife showed up in the application system, and that everything was fine.
  • After reading here that companies couldn't apply for visas -- only private people -- we decided to make very sure, and called the consulate again to check if the *visa* had also been applied for, or only the residence permit. They said they didn't actually have access to that information, as everything they were seeing was done by Canton Aargau and not available in detailed form in their system.
  • They also said the visa would only be necessary after 90 days anyway, because until then, she could enter and stay on a tourist visa, which is what they said we should do.
  • They also recommended we apply for a D visa anyway, which we did via express mail the day before our departure. We did this via the San Francisco consulate still, as they really prefer you apply for the visa at the place where you are living pre-Switzerland. The consulate told us that they could transfer the visa, when issued, to the consulate in Paris for us to go pick up in person to re-enter Switzerland.
  • We entered Switzerland, me with my offer letter and EU passport, and my wife with only her US passport, officially as a tourist.
  • We both registered with the Kreisburo in Zurich the following day (it was okay to switch to Zurich from Canton Aargau because I have an EU passport; would not be okay to do this otherwise). The Kreisburo was surprised by the lack of visa in my wife's passport, but they photocopied everything and sent it on its way anyway, saying they weren't the ones to decided whether to stop it there or not. They made an appointment for her with the Migration Office in Zurich.
  • I received my B residence permit in the mail 2 weeks later.
  • My wife went to her Migration Office appointment, and gave them the requisite fingerprints etc.
  • We kept in touch with the consulate in San Francisco via phone call, about once a week, to check on the visa status, with no real update or projection. I also called the Migration Office two or three times total to check on how things were moving.
  • The last time I called the Migration Office, the man who answered told me that he saw that her application was mostly processed, but that they still needed the visa. I said yes, the consulate told us to be on call to pick it up in Paris when it's ready. Then he said, "Oh, you have an EU passport, so her visa application will get approved anyway. I'll save you the trip to Paris and save us the extra paperwork and approve the residence permit now in the system." I assume he also canceled the visa application then.
  • I did a little jig for joy.
  • My wife received her B permit in the mail, about 5 weeks after our registration at the Kreisburo.

In conclusion, here is what I know:
  • It worked just fine for us (give or take some stressful nights), but I can't say that I would extrapolate that to other cases, and definitely not to cases where neither partner has an EU passport.
  • I still am not sure if my workplace actually applied for a visa, or only the residence permits. Therefore, I can't tell you if we really needed to apply for the D visa separately, since the Kreisburo decided they didn't care in the end anyway.

Best of luck to anyone that this post may help! Switzerland really is a lovely place to live; we've enjoyed our first year here!
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