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Old 21.04.2008, 16:42
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Passport Stamp Denied

Hi All,
You guys helped me out a bunch on my last post, hopefully this one will go well too. I'm an American citizen looking to work in Switzerland. I'm in a strange situation at the moment...

I have a student applicant visa for Germany that will expire on May 1st. I've called around and every police office or foreigners office gives me a slightly different answer as to when I can come back into Germany as a tourist. Some say I must wait 90 days before comming back, most say I can come back on May 2nd as a tourist. Some say I can stay as a tourist for 90 days every 6 months, some say its 90 days per year.

Does anyone know how that works for Switzerland? Can I stay here for 90 days every 6 months as a tourist or is it 90 days every year? Can anyone provide a link to the corresponding law where that is stated?

Anyway... as far as I understand it, I can leave Germany and come into Switzerland as a tourist. Then I can stay in Switzerland for 90 days, and after that return to Germany as a tourist for another 90 days. I realize that this forum is not about Germany, but I wanted to give some background on the situation, and do some comparison to see how the swiss laws deal with that.

Here's the really important part:
I was expecting the border guard to stamp my passport on the way in for 2 purposes:
1. to prove that I have left Germany and am not staying there illegally after my Visa expires
2. to mark my entry into Switzerland and start the countdown of the 90 days that I can remain in Switzerland.

The swiss border guard refused to stamp my passport for entry and seemed rather ****ed off that I asked him to do so. He said the Germans need to stamp it because the visa is a German visa. That much I understand...

The Germans then told me that because I was entering Switzerland, they couldn't stamp my passport to mark my entry into another country. I did however convince the Germans to stamp my passport with a departure stamp.

As it stands now, I am in Switzerland, with no proof of entry.

Personally, if the Swiss don't seem to care who comes and goes into their country, I'm fine with that and won't care either. However when it comes time to apply for a work visa, and they see that I've just been staying in Switzerland undocumented, I'm afraid that I'll be violating some law and they'll deny the request.

Should I go back into Germany and try to cross at another checkpoint to get back into Switzerland with a stamp?

What's the big deal with stamping anyway? Why would a border guard not want to stamp a passport? Don't they want to know when I've come in and when I leave? Are they just too lazy? Will they put themselves at risk if they stamp a passport that should not be stamped?

If I show a policeman my passport for some reason later on, he'll see that I've left Germany but not entered anywhere. How can he then know where I've been in the meantime?

Can anyone provide a link to a website that has the official laws for this kind of thing? I'm no lawyer, but I like to read that stuff anyway so I have some idea of what's going on.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:12
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

Was your passport scanned upon entry into Switzerland?

Very few countries seem to stamp passports these days, especially within the EU. Prior to moving to Switzerland, I had travelled here on many occasions, and not once was my passport ever stamped (maybe because I am originally from a "safe" country). The only time it was stamped was when I asked for one so that I could show the Kreisbüro my "official" date of entry into the country. It is a bit strange that the Swiss border guard refused to stamp your passport, though.

Otherwise, if your passport has neither been stamped or scanned, it is a bit difficult for the authorities to track how long you have been in this country. I know several people who have come to Switzerland on a tourist visa, and have overstayed their visit a little, but the only time the Swiss authorities really find out is when you leave the country at the airport. At which point in time, there is little for the Swiss authorities to do because you are already leaving ...

Further, one needs to ask if the 90 days need to be consecutive. For example, what happens if you happen to cross the border into France, Italy or Austria for a day - does your 90 days start again when you come back into Switzerland? The only information I have gathered so far is that, after 90 days, you must exit the country for at least 1 month, and you may not stay in Switzerland for more than 6 out of 12 months.

In case you do get caught out and are asked to demonstrate how long you have been in Switzerland, I think you should try to ensure, as far as possible, that you have the proper documentation. You do not want an act of dishonesty to jeopardise any chances of securing a work/residence permit.

Here is a useful website: www.ch.ch
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:17
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

I can remember when I worked in Cyprus (which was then not in the EU) we used to fly non EU reps there from EU countries and return them the following day. It was ok then to return to the country provided you had been to a non EU state for 24 hours. Don't know if the rules have changed though!
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:21
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

Ok i am not sure about this but your best bet would be to go to the gemeinde where your staying and ask them, as when i came here 11 years ago, i had to go to the fremdepolizie and they stamped my passport (not the boarder guard) and they also gave me my visa.....
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:28
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

The Swiss only stamp passports when the passport holder has a visa, i.e. they stamp the Swiss visa page. You have a US passport. You need no visa as a tourist. Hence, the Swiss do not stamp!

However, your host in this country may have an obligation to report your presence to the police.
  • Are you staying at a hotel? If so, the hotelier reports you to the local police.
  • Are you staying with friends/relations? They may have an obligation to report you at the town hall
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:31
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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Hi All,
.....
If I show a policeman my passport for some reason later on, he'll see that I've left Germany but not entered anywhere. How can he then know where I've been in the meantime?
The German border stamp reveals where it was stamped. Hence, it is clear that you entered Switzerland!
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:39
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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The Swiss only stamp passports when the passport holder has a visa, i.e. they stamp the Swiss visa page. You have a US passport. You need no visa as a tourist. Hence, the Swiss do not stamp!
The Swiss authorities should still stamp your passport upon request. It is a bit strange that they can/will refuse to do so.

I often pass through customs with a mere flash of my Australian passport - on several occasions, the customs officer did not even open the passport to check that it was mine!

I always ask for my passport to be stamped when I travel (so that I can gloat about the number of stamps in my passport), and I have never been refused. Hence, a visa is not a pre-requisite for a stamp in your passport.
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Old 21.04.2008, 17:39
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

What is the goal that you are trying to accomplish?

Are you trying to learn the language? Look for a job?

When I was in Munich, I went to the foreign authority
and told them I wanted to stay longer. They extended
it six months without problem.
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Old 21.04.2008, 18:49
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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What is the goal that you are trying to accomplish?

Are you trying to learn the language? Look for a job?

Well, I'm planning on working at first, minimum 1 year, and then studying for a Masters in Business Information Systems either in Switzerland or Germany. I haven't yet found any University here that offers a Masters in this subject, but I've only checked out the University of Bern so far. If anybody knows which Universities offer that in German, please let me know!

I have to fly back to the US in July for a wedding and to take care of some stuff, but I plan to come back just after to work here.

I could also take some language courses if necessary, but I'll be needing money soon.
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Old 21.04.2008, 18:50
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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When I was in Munich, I went to the foreign authority and told them I wanted to stay longer. They extended it six months without problem.
What were you doing there? Were you just there as a tourist, or were you taking language courses?
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Old 21.04.2008, 18:53
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

I'm a bit paranoid about this too.

Theoretically** 4 months ago I arrived on a flight in Frankfurt and never left Germany.

I have my auslanders card which is evidence that I live in Switzerland, but I'd rather the Swiss customs/border-guards on the train had simply stamped my passport.

I'm not really worried about being deported, since there's fairly good evidence that I live in Switzerland. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want to end up on some visa-overstay list for the EU either.

Is there some way I can tell the EU that I've "checked out".

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble

** When I say "Theoretically", what I mean is: "According to the electronically collected data trail".
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Old 21.04.2008, 19:08
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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The Swiss authorities should still stamp your passport upon request. It is a bit strange that they can/will refuse to do so.

I often pass through customs with a mere flash of my Australian passport - on several occasions, the customs officer did not even open the passport to check that it was mine!

I always ask for my passport to be stamped when I travel (so that I can gloat about the number of stamps in my passport), and I have never been refused. Hence, a visa is not a pre-requisite for a stamp in your passport.
"Should" is a rather strong statement. Maybe the border guard would stamp, as a favor to stamp collectors.

Personally, I am happy when my passport is not stamped:
  • Passports are expensive. When all the pages are used up, a new one is expenditure and hassle. Also a new passport must be biometric (insists the USA) and those are more expensive.
  • Border guards of some countries study every page of the passport. More stamps means longer study, maybe doubts, questions, verification, etc.
  • Long-term visas must be transferred from the full to the new passport. More hassle and expense.
  • I like my privacy and prefer as few traces as possible .
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Old 21.04.2008, 19:10
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

you do know that, to get a work permit for Switzerland, you will have to leave the country?

what are you really trying to achieve here? That's the big question.
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Old 21.04.2008, 19:17
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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I'm a bit paranoid about this too.

Theoretically** 4 months ago I arrived on a flight in Frankfurt and never left Germany.

I have my auslanders card which is evidence that I live in Switzerland, but I'd rather the Swiss customs/border-guards on the train had simply stamped my passport.

I'm not really worried about being deported, since there's fairly good evidence that I live in Switzerland. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want to end up on some visa-overstay list for the EU either.

Is there some way I can tell the EU that I've "checked out".

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble

** When I say "Theoretically", what I mean is: "According to the electronically collected data trail".
My guess is that the authorities are not too concerned about people overstaying their visits, unless there is an attempt made at accessing local social security funds, etc.

There are other ways that you can prove that you have left the country, such as through bank transactions.

I was once stopped at customs in Oslo, and the last stamp on my passport was from Paris 6 months earlier. The customs officer thought I had flown directly from Paris to Oslo, and was shocked to hear that I had actually travelled to 4 countries since without any evidence in my passport. On these occasions, I was travelling for work and found that customs officials in these countries were not checking passports on flights within the EU (and I did not have the time to hunt down a customs official just to get a stamp for my personal collection). Though, being a non-EU passport-holder, I thought it was rather odd that my passport would not be checked, regardless of the fact that I had just been on a flight within the EU.

On another note, I was in another EU country the other day and requested a stamp upon entry and departure. I was only there for one day, but the customs official at the departure gate had the wrong date on his stamp, and so my passport actually states that I was in the country for 3 days instead of 1 ...

Last edited by Scott; 11.01.2010 at 09:00.
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Old 21.04.2008, 19:29
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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I'm a bit paranoid about this too.

Theoretically** 4 months ago I arrived on a flight in Frankfurt and never left Germany.

I have my auslanders card which is evidence that I live in Switzerland, but I'd rather the Swiss customs/border-guards on the train had simply stamped my passport.

I'm not really worried about being deported, since there's fairly good evidence that I live in Switzerland. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want to end up on some visa-overstay list for the EU either.

Is there some way I can tell the EU that I've "checked out".

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble

** When I say "Theoretically", what I mean is: "According to the electronically collected data trail".
Fortunately, Big Brother is not logging everything!
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Old 21.04.2008, 20:04
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

Hi. There are Master's programs in Switzerland in MIS for sure.

There are schools that are like Universities called Hochschule
or Fachhochschule that offer master degrees as well.

For these subjects of study, I believe that German will be
a prerequisite. Germany used to have IT Visas for programmers.

Do you have any experience? If so, in what?

I would think out your plan very carefully because Switzerland is
very expensive, and Germany is very expensive because of the
Euro.

If you simply want a Visa, you could take a language course.
I am not trying to rain on your parade, but you should have
a solid plan.

Good luck!
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Old 21.04.2008, 20:05
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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Personally, I am happy when my passport is not stamped:
  • Passports are expensive. When all the pages are used up, a new one is expenditure and hassle. Also a new passport must be biometric (insists the USA) and those are more expensive.
  • Border guards of some countries study every page of the passport. More stamps means longer study, maybe doubts, questions, verification, etc.
  • Long-term visas must be transferred from the full to the new passport. More hassle and expense.
  • I like my privacy and prefer as few traces as possible .
Ditto. Your second point reminds me of the time a border guard put an entry stamp on the first page with enough blank space on it, totally out of chronological order, and on exiting the country they couldn't find it easily so examined every single page.

Another couple of points:
  • the possibility of your home country's passport office going on strike (it happened to me in the 1980s, and I could have lost my job over it, not that the civil servants gave a jot about that).
  • the number of "working days" it takes to get a passport renewed - the last time I renewed my passport I couldn't travel abroad for 3 weeks, thereby missing a couple of job opportunities.
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Old 23.04.2008, 22:49
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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you do know that, to get a work permit for Switzerland, you will have to leave the country?

what are you really trying to achieve here? That's the big question.
Well, I was under the impression that I could obtain the work permit without leaving the country. Here's what the official at the Bern Emmigrations Office told me (it's in German to make sure nothing is lost in translation):

"Der Arbeitgeber muss sich mit den kantonalen Behörden (Arbeitsmarktbehörden) in Verbindung setzen um ein entsprechendes Arbeitsgesuch zu stellen. Nachdem die Erteilung in den Kompetenzbereich der kantonalen Migrationsbehörden fällt, wird diese zuletzt Ihren Aufenthalt regeln. Die entsprechende Bewilligung können Sie - wenn sich Ihr Aufenthalt nicht über die erwähnten 90 Tage innerhalb von sechs Monate erstreckt - voraussichtlich (auch kantonale Kompetenz) in der Schweiz abwarten."



From this I was under the impression that if I go to the right office with a job offer in hand before my time as a Tourist expires, I can get a work permit and a residence permit without having to leave the country.

If that's not the case or if I misunderstood something, please let me know.



As for the big question of what I'm trying to accomplish:
My girlfriend just got a job in Switzerland (she is German). I want to work for at least a year to save up money, and also live near her. After I have some money in the bank, I plan to study for 2 years to get a Masters in Business Information Systems. I had origionally planned to do that in Germany, but if I can find a comparable university in Switzerland, I could study here too. The tuition is slightly higher, but still affordable. After that I could see working in either Switzerland or Germany for a while. I'm still getting used to the cost of living in Switzerland, but if I can get a corresponding salary, things will go fine. As for Germany, I would certainly rather earn my pay in Euros rather than Dollars, and 30 days vacation is good too, compared to the average 1-2 weeks in the US, but the German 40%+ tax rate is a bit high. That's why I think working in Switzerland would be the best bet. Taxes are lower, pay is higher, and if one lives modestly, the cost of living should be bearable.
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Old 23.04.2008, 22:56
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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Well, I was under the impression that I could obtain the work permit without leaving the country.
If that's not the case or if I misunderstood something, please let me know.

I had to leave Switzerland when my first permit was submitted.
Was gone about a week.
Didn't have to go far to be outside of Switzerland.
Benefit of living near Liechtenstein and Austrian border.

Lob usually does know what he is talking about... usually
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Old 23.04.2008, 23:00
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Re: Passport Stamp Denied

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For these subjects of study, I believe that German will be a prerequisite. Germany used to have IT Visas for programmers.

Do you have any experience? If so, in what?
My experience is more in server administration and systems engineer work. I'm just about finished with my MCSE Microsoft Certification and I have about 7 years work experience in various areas of IT. I can program in C++ and Visual Basic, as well as do some Web Design with Java, PHP, and such, but I'm not a big fan of staring at lines of code all day. I'm working on getting more into networking, but I just haven't had the time to do any Cisco certifications yet. I hear SAP is big here, but I have no experience in it, although I've used and supported some in-house ERP systems. I can also get around in Linux, but those skills are not as sharp as with Microsoft.

As far as German goes, I'm pretty fluent (C1 Level) and just recently passed the TestDaF with a near perfect score. Although Swiss German is something entirely different. I have a tough time understanding old people and the Bern dialect here. I've started saying Grüzi a bit more though

Do the Swiss have any such Visas for IT workers?

Also, feel free to recommend a company or where to find work here
Help finding an apartment would be good too, but I'm starting to get a little off topic here...
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