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Old 07.09.2016, 15:55
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Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Hi everyone,

I was writing to learn more about the work permits offered in Switzerland and the transparency issues around it. I have lived in Switzerland and worked for one year on an L permit. I am from a non-EU country and was able to get this work permit due to a bilateral agreement between my native country (Australia) and Switzerland in which didn't require any market testing/sponsorship from a company. Before my L permit expired, I got a job offer from UBS in Zurich. Shortly after signing it I was told by HR that they couldn't get me a permit due to the complications involved (no available permits left in March 2016) and other issues surrounding my non-EU citizenship.

After having done a lot of research and having contacted the authorities I am still absolutely clueless on how visas are handled in Switzerland. There seems to be so many grey areas about visas and I wanted to get more information from people who have gone through the process (or understand the system).

I am 25, have a civil engineering degree from an ETH Zurich equivalent university in Australia. I have worked in civil engineering and recently moved into finance and currently work in commodity and FX trading at an international bank. I am wanting to go back to Switzerland to complete a master's program at ETH Zurich and then to obtain more experience in the financial sector in Switzerland. (Commodity trading or other related area)

My only concern now is the issues surrounding work permits. I worked with many colleagues in Zurich/Basel that were non-EU citizens and that obtained work permits quite easily after having finished a Swiss university. I don't know if they just got lucky but I just wanted to understand more about this. For me this step will be quite a big decision as I will quit my current job, move to the other side of the world and drop substantial amount of $$$$. I just want to be able to make a good informed decision of coming back to Switzerland and not be left disappointed like last time surrounding work permit complications.

Specifically, I wanted to learn more about the following:

- What is the definition of a skilled worker in Switzerland? Does your background matter at all in a work permit application (e.g. does an area that contributes strongly to the Swiss economy have an advantage over other areas of work or are they treated equal?)

- How does the quota system work exactly? Is it based on seniority and experience or some other criteria? Do some sectors have an upper hand when obtaining these permits for their applicants.

- Are there any advantages of finishing a Swiss university? So if I went along and finished university in Switzerland would I be placed in the same pool of applicants when applying for jobs - same pool as non-EU applicants finishing foreign universities or would I be on a slight advantage as I hold a Swiss degree?

- Does having working knowledge of one of the Swiss official languages score any points on the work permit application (e.g speaking German)?

- Are immigration lawyers necessary for work permit applications? Does having them in the process equate to a higher chance for success. If so, could anyone recommend any good ones that have experience with non-EU applicants. I would be interested in seeking one and getting a consultation.

- Besides quota restrictions/limits what are factors cause a rejection for Switzerland work permits?

All your help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks in advance everyone!!

Cheers from Australia!
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Old 07.09.2016, 16:07
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

According to a law firm, the Swiss immigration authorities consider these criteria when determining whether a non-EU citizen is "highly qualified":

a. Masters degree
b. Necessary professional experience
c. Comprehensive language skills, further education and rewards are highly beneficial
d. Annual salary of at least CHF 100'000

See pp. 41-42 of attached link (pdf pp. 11-12):

https://www.vischer.com/fileadmin/us...tzerland_2.pdf

Generally, non-EU graduates of Swiss universities are placed on an equivalent level to apply for jobs in Switzerland as Swiss/ EU citizens up to six months after graduation.

If you search this forum, you will find threads that discuss these and other points you raised.
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Old 07.09.2016, 16:38
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Thanks very much for the information you have provided!! greatly appreciated
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Old 07.09.2016, 16:44
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

The single biggest barrier that a company wanting to hire a non-EU person is the requirement to prove that a EU person could not be found to fulfill the requirements.

With a post-graduate degree from a Swiss university, that barrier is gone, hence your friends with Swiss Masters getting permits.
The quotas still apply.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...abgaenger.html

The job should "involves an activity of particular scientific or economic importance", which is typically interpreted to mean that its not some McJob.
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Old 07.09.2016, 16:52
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Thanks for this information, I will definitely check out the details!
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Old 07.09.2016, 17:04
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Further to the above, these two articles support the need for a minimum of CHF 100'000 annual salary to be considered "highly qualified":

http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/wirtscha...story/11101481

http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/2000-bis-3...ung-1.18211209
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Old 07.09.2016, 18:27
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Sometimes when you already had a permit they make people wait a year before allowing them to apply for a new non-EU L permit again. It would be if your original non-EU permit was the intern or inter-company transfer type. If you get stuck in this situation you have to wait it out.

I think hiring a lawyer is a waste of money here. The immigration and AWA has a book with detailed plans of every situation that they follow to the letter, with no exceptions or flexibility. Even if something is written clearly in the law these offices can just tell the lawyer that what they do is canton law and they interpret the federal laws as we want.

The company has to prove there is no one else in Switzerland or the EU that applied to the job that is as qualified as you. If your degree doesn't match your profession, it might not count for them.
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Old 08.09.2016, 21:50
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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Sometimes when you already had a permit they make people wait a year before allowing them to apply for a new non-EU L permit again. It would be if your original non-EU permit was the intern or inter-company transfer type. If you get stuck in this situation you have to wait it out.

I think hiring a lawyer is a waste of money here. The immigration and AWA has a book with detailed plans of every situation that they follow to the letter, with no exceptions or flexibility. Even if something is written clearly in the law these offices can just tell the lawyer that what they do is canton law and they interpret the federal laws as we want.

The company has to prove there is no one else in Switzerland or the EU that applied to the job that is as qualified as you. If your degree doesn't match your profession, it might not count for them.

Hallo!

My name is Karina and would like to ask a question, do you know if having a L permission I can get a job? If I can, how many hours? Can I work full time?

Thanks a lot and best regards!
Karina
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Old 08.09.2016, 22:49
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Hi Karina!

Where are you from, the EU or non-EU?.. this is the biggest difference for anyone's status.

If you're from the EU anyone that finds a job here gets a work permit. I think 100k+ people came with their EU work permits last year, pretty easy to do what you want if you're from the EU.

If you're not from the EU but married to a Swiss or EU person, then you'll get a B permit and are able to work, too. I don't think you have this one, or you'd have a B permit.

If you're not from the EU then they let 6500 people in last year with work permits, and only if you're highly skilled at something that takes a lot of university degrees. If you had this type of permit you'd definitely have a job already, so I bet you don't have this one either.

If you're not from the EU, and married to someone not from the EU then you'll not be allowed to work for two years until your spouse gets a B permit. There is an exception if you're highly qualified, but then it would be enough to come to Switzerland on your own and you wouldn't have needed that dependent L-permit in the first place..

If you're from India, or some non-EU country where you don't look so Swiss then maybe it's an issue, too. At my company we've had a position open for nine months in my team. There is a very qualified person from India they interviewed but HR says it's not possible to get a work permit for him because of where he is from. Migration office chooses what the want. US and Canada is fine-fine, and they gave some offers to some people from there before but it didn't work out on their side.
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Old 09.09.2016, 03:29
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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If you're from India, or some non-EU country where you don't look so Swiss then maybe it's an issue, too. At my company we've had a position open for nine months in my team. There is a very qualified person from India they interviewed but HR says it's not possible to get a work permit for him because of where he is from. Migration office chooses what the want. US and Canada is fine-fine, and they gave some offers to some people from there before but it didn't work out on their side.
BS. If that were true, my company couldn't hire Indians, yet that's all they do. There may be a bit more leniency with US Americans or Canadians at times, but in general, non-EU is non-EU, simple as that. If a permit gets denied, the reason is usually lack of qualification in the sense that the job could easily be filled with an EU or Swiss citizen (which is the most fundamental aspect). Don't compare apples and oranges.
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Old 09.09.2016, 08:16
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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BS. If that were true, my company couldn't hire Indians, yet that's all they do. There may be a bit more leniency with US Americans or Canadians at times, but in general, non-EU is non-EU, simple as that. If a permit gets denied, the reason is usually lack of qualification in the sense that the job could easily be filled with an EU or Swiss citizen (which is the most fundamental aspect). Don't compare apples and oranges.
Looking over a period of five years, Swiss government statistics show a decline in the number of Americans (-6.3%), roughly the same number of Canadians (-0.6%) and a clear increase in the number of Indians (+21.7%) in Switzerland:

Americans:
7/2016: 16,975
7/2015: 17,551
7/2014: 17,772
6/2012: 18,118

Canadians:
7/2016: 6,207
7/2015: 6,238
7/2014: 6,118
6/2012: 6,243

Indians:
7/2016: 12,725
7/2015: 12,395
7/2014: 11,607
6/2012: 10,452

I'll let the reader decide whether Drewboog's comment holds water.

Source: 4-30, Workbook "Letzte 12 Monate", Spreadsheet: CH-Nat

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/de/home...chiv/2016.html
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Old 09.09.2016, 09:17
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

case in point
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Old 11.09.2016, 18:41
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

Dbarca22,

Regarding your question about immigration lawyers being helpful or not...

It seems you plan to go to a Swiss university, and therefore it may not be necessary to even hire an immigration lawyer when it comes to find a position post-graduation.

I'm also a non-EU on an L stagiaire permit now, trying to be hired on a full contract with the same company. Although my company is enormous and international, somehow my HR team here in Zurich has barely a clue about the process for hiring non-EU employees. They thought this application for a B permit was just some formality, and only once it got rejected, are they starting to consider the application more seriously.

We will resubmit my application in the next few weeks, and I definitely plan to hire (ask HR to share costs) for an immigration lawyer to (at a minimum) review the entire application package before submitted it again to Zurich authorities.

4-6 weeks (average work permit processing time in Zurich canton) to wait is a long time in life to be unsure about your future. If you have an unbiased professional to review the application, it can only give you the best peace of mind possible in such circumstances. Of course your HR has to agree to work with a lawyer.

I have another non-EU (US) friend who went to university here in Zurich, graduated, found a job in Zurich, and his initial application also got rejected. Only when the HR team hired an immigration lawyer, who helped them write a 10+ page appeal letter, did they approve the work permit for him.

I strongly recommend getting an immigration lawyer involved if it starts to get complicated (rejected initial work permit, etc). Message me again in a couple months, and I'll tell you if I think my lawyer is worth his salt (if my permit is approved in round 2, with his assistance).

Best of luck!!
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Old 18.10.2016, 11:26
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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Further to the above, these two articles support the need for a minimum of CHF 100'000 annual salary to be considered "highly qualified":

http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/wirtscha...story/11101481

http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/2000-bis-3...ung-1.18211209
I am new to this forum, so pardon me if the information is also available in other trends.

I am from Singapore and have recently applied for a role internally, to Geneva. The role that I have applied is a department head role, in a fairly specialized field within banking sector, that should pay between CHF200,000 - 300,000 range. Given that this is also an internal position (I can do 90% of the work as I am doing the exact same role with slightly bigger coverage in another country), would it shorten the permit approval process?
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Old 18.10.2016, 11:38
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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I am new to this forum, so pardon me if the information is also available in other trends.

I am from Singapore and have recently applied for a role internally, to Geneva. The role that I have applied is a department head role, in a fairly specialized field within banking sector, that should pay between CHF200,000 - 300,000 range. Given that this is also an internal position (I can do 90% of the work as I am doing the exact same role with slightly bigger coverage in another country), would it shorten the permit approval process?


Shorten, no. facilitate, yes. As long as the company can prove that they did not find anyone from CH or EU
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Old 18.10.2016, 11:46
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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Shorten, no. facilitate, yes. As long as the company can prove that they did not find anyone from CH or EU
Out of curiosity, how does the company prove that they did not find anyone from CH or EU? I am sure they have interviewed candidates in both CH and EU, and candidates with relevant experiences as well. However, if their final decision remains that I am most suited for the role, since the knowledge is directly transferable and I am familiar with the existing working culture, how do they provide evidence that no one else is suitable?
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Old 18.10.2016, 13:22
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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Out of curiosity, how does the company prove that they did not find anyone from CH or EU? I am sure they have interviewed candidates in both CH and EU, and candidates with relevant experiences as well. However, if their final decision remains that I am most suited for the role, since the knowledge is directly transferable and I am familiar with the existing working culture, how do they provide evidence that no one else is suitable?
Like this.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...zulassung.html

Whether the company decides you're the most suitable or not, if the canton/federal authorities disagree they'll have to go back and try again to either find another candidate or convince that you really are the best for the position.
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Old 18.10.2016, 13:27
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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I am new to this forum, so pardon me if the information is also available in other trends.

I am from Singapore and have recently applied for a role internally, to Geneva. The role that I have applied is a department head role, in a fairly specialized field within banking sector, that should pay between CHF200,000 - 300,000 range. Given that this is also an internal position (I can do 90% of the work as I am doing the exact same role with slightly bigger coverage in another country), would it shorten the permit approval process?
If your company applies to transfer you internally under intra-company transfer rules, it is not necessary to demonstrate that there is not a suitable Swiss/EU candidate. See 8.3 and 9.3 at this link for more information on intra-company transfers:

http://www.lenzstaehelin.com/uploads...witzerland.pdf
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Old 19.10.2016, 03:37
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

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If your company applies to transfer you internally under intra-company transfer rules, it is not necessary to demonstrate that there is not a suitable Swiss/EU candidate. See 8.3 and 9.3 at this link for more information on intra-company transfers:

http://www.lenzstaehelin.com/uploads...witzerland.pdf
Thank you for the information, it is very useful. I noted that this is for transfer of up to 4 years. What happen if my plan is to stay in Switzerland permanently or beyond 4 years? Our move back to Europe is primarily driven to be closer to my husband's family, hence, it should be a permanently move.

This will mean I will be considered a normal applicant, or I can apply for this and covert later?
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Old 19.10.2016, 07:07
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Re: Work Permit Confusions and transparency

As your permit will be "tied" to your job/employer it means any new application comes under the non-EU hiring criteria. So another employer would have to prove they can't find a Swiss/EU national.
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