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Old 29.08.2017, 13:31
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Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Hi there -
Seeking some help and answers as I'm reading a lot of different info on forums...

My situation is this: I am an American citizen who is currently in europe, on a schengen visa, and i was just admitted to a masters program that starts in a few weeks. I am wondering if I can process my student visa here in Switzerland - rather than spending a lot of time and money to go back to the US to file for it (also it takes 8 weeks so I would miss most of the semester waiting for the visa.

I've heard of exceptions being made - but only from reading from forums. Does anyone know who I should talk to to get this process in motion? I've called the Swiss Consulate in SF and they said it wasn't possible to get the visa in Switzerland - that I would have to go back - but I wonder if there is still a way.

My situation might seem weird - but I met with the head of the school while i was here visiting and she really liked me and my work and was willing to admit me straight away.

Would appreciate any insight or leads into who to call or what to do.

Many thanks,
Cristaline
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Old 29.08.2017, 13:53
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

What sort of visa exactly?
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Old 29.08.2017, 13:58
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

A student visa, or a long stay national D visa. The master's program is 2 years.

Thanks!
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Old 29.08.2017, 14:03
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

I don't know which university you have been accepted for, but perhaps this info will guide you...

https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/inter...sing/visa.html

https://www.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz...-master-en.pdf

Have you contacted the American embassy or consulate where you will be studying, to ask them the question?
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Old 29.08.2017, 14:15
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Sorry, I meant what type of visa do you have now?
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Old 29.08.2017, 14:16
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

I'm on a tourist visa.
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Old 29.08.2017, 14:33
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Then sorry, but no. You have to return to the States and apply for a Type D visa at the Swiss embassy/consulate that deals with your area. A tourist visa doesn't allow this sort of study and you can't get the Type D here.

Just because you've been accepted by the school doesn't mean a student permit will be granted. You need to provide various documents and also show you have sufficient funds to support yourself while you study here - average figure is around CHF20,000 in either a Swiss bank or a bank that has a branch in Switzerland, but this figure varies depending on the canton so check with the cantonal migration office what they will require.

You need to return to the States and apply for a student permit and a Type D visa, providing the documents needed. If the permit is approved by the Swiss authorities then the Type D visa will be issued and stamped in your passport. You'll then have a certain period of time to make the move here. Once you arrive you then go to the cantonal migration office to start the process of getting your pre-approved permit issued. Only then are you allowed to begin your course.
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Old 29.08.2017, 18:06
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

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My situation might seem weird - but I met with the head of the school while i was here visiting and she really liked me and my work and was willing to admit me straight away.
Things sure have changed since I did my masters degree at the University of Oslo back in the days. All applications had to go through the dean's office (as well as the ministry of education) who then in turn would grant the applicant a place if one lived up to the criteria/grades obtained from previous BA courses as well as the BA project written. It took 6 weeks or so if I'm not mistaken to get an acceptance letter...

So I'm wondering in this case if the school is accredited, first of all, as high-fiving with the head of school and the same person who "like" the previous work done sounds a tad dodgy tbh. Secondly, was this an impulse idea you got when traveling through Europe as it takes some serious planning to continue your studies at that level (trust me I went through the process when I decided on Oslo for my MSc)... Anyway, not what you're asking, so sorry for drifting off topic.

This said, I have no idea what Visa you need and how to obtain this through the correct channels, but I hope it works out for you no matter what kind of school it is you want to attend here in Switzerland.
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Old 29.08.2017, 23:08
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Indeed. There's a lot of competition to get into Swiss universities - at least any worth attending. The fact the head of this school liked your work doesn't really count for much as far as getting a permit to study here goes.

For your information this is what you'll need to do/provide:

"Third-country nationals

Citizens of non-EU-27*/EFTA** countries must meet the following criteria:

• They must apply for a visa with a Swiss diplomatic/consular mission in the country of residence.
• They have adequate financial resources to cover the cost of living in Switzerland so as to ensure that they will not become dependent on welfare benefits, and
• They have a health insurance policy that also includes accident coverage.

Students must also submit the following documents with their visa application:

• Personal study plan with information about the purpose of studies,
• Confirmation of enrolment with a recognised educational institution,
• Personal curriculum vitae,
• Confirmation that they will leave Switzerland at the end of their education and training."

https://www.ch.ch/en/retirement-or-study-switzerland/

If you can't or don't meet the criteria a student permit will not be granted despite the head of the school saying there's a place for you. For a start you need written confirmation of being accepted to study at the school before you can do any of the other parts required. You don't have that do you, just a verbal say so.

This is not something you're going to be able to arrange on the spur of the moment so either forget it or try and sort it out for next semester because it won't be done in time for this one.
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Old 30.08.2017, 00:05
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Have you spoken to administration/admission at your propsective school? They deal with this on a regular basis and should have a handle on the process.

I think it's likely you have to return to the US for visa processing, but your school should be giving you guidance.

Good luck!
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Old 30.08.2017, 19:37
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

For even schools such as private language schools certain cantonal authorities will let it slide and let you submit a permit application directly without having applied for the relevant entry visa at the consulate covering your district.

Whether the cantonal authorities let you apply directly for a residence permit sort of depends on who is at the permit desk when you go.

I am not recommending this course of action. I am just saying that what seem like strict procedures are not always followed by the authorities themselves. You will find that often enough they seem to care less than you do.
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Old 04.09.2017, 19:57
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Thank you! I agree with you
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Old 31.10.2017, 09:34
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Update: I was able to get my B Permit in Basel, and I didn't have to return to the states.

I filled out the visa application and provided some supporting letters from the school saying why the application was late, plus proof of insurance...and handed it to the Migrationsamt in Basel. Paid around 230 francs all in all.

I cannot guarantee this is how it will work out for everyone, but it did for me, and it's worth noting. When in doubt, just go to the migrationsamt and ask them in person.

Thanks everyone for the support along the way!
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Old 31.10.2017, 09:44
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Thanks Cristaline, it's always useful to have people's personal experiences. Often it depends on your circumstances and the canton you're applying in. We've had successful stories like yours which contrast to others where people have been told to return to the States to wait for their visa to be issued to them there.

One of our EF members from the States a few years ago applied to a uni here and applied for his visa in the States as required, but didn't wait for the visa and entered as a tourist. Canton told him to go back to the States to wait for the visa and he missed a semster of his study course.

As you say, it can work, but not really recommended to try it.
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Old 31.10.2017, 10:24
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Re: Student Visa For An American - Can it be obtained in the Switzerland?

Jep agree you got really lucky on this one. This is by far not the norm and not recommended for anyone to try - just in case someone else is ever in a similar situation and reading this thread.

I know countless of people who came here as tourists (usually ignoring all advice about precisely not doing that) and then had to go back to their home country to pick up their visa. In some cases, it can be picked up in another European country, but that is at the embassy's discretion and the application usually needs to indicate that the visa will be picked up there (changing the embassy later is not impossible, but difficult).
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