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Old 20.07.2020, 07:53
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Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

Hey guys, I've spent a decent amount of time looking at various websites trying to figure everything out but I'm ultimately left a little confused. I ran across this website and you seem like an extraordinarily helpful bunch so I wanted to say thank you before I begin.



My desire ultimately is to move to Geneva, Switzerland as soon as possible given the current coronavirus closed border situation. If Switzerland opened up in September, for example, I'd like to ideally be on one of the first flights to begin a new long-term chapter of my life over there.



Currently, I'm in my mid-30s, male, single (never married), a millionaire, and I operate a start-up online business that has yet to pull in any profit. All of my money was made in my former years as a professional poker player and as an early Bitcoin investor. I speak three languages, including French, so assimilation shouldn't be too difficult for me I'd hope.


I'm trying to move to Switzerland because politically/culturally/raising a family/everything else, it's one of the only countries on Earth that makes any sense to me and it's really where I feel like I could finally start to live in peace and be happier. And that's where I start having issues from the legal side of the equation.



The Permit B seems to be a work/study visa. Given that I have my own online business, I won't seek employment while in Geneva and have plenty of savings to last quite some time. The other permits don't seem to make sense to fulfill my desires either. I have received residency permits in other countries in the past with relative ease simply by filling out documentation and paying some fees but that doesn't seem to be the case here, or is it?



Given the above, what paths can I even seek for temporary/permanent residency and citizenship in Switzerland if they exist? Would I be allowed to get a 12-month apartment rental there to start things off?


Thanks for your time!
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:10
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

To live in Switzerland you either need to be a Swiss Citizen or have a valid permit. This applies to those not employed or self-employed as well as those that work.

Permits for third-country nationals (ie non-EU) are very limited and very difficult to come buy. Most will go to workers in jobs where a Swiss or EU national can’t be found.

It is possible but it won’t be based on your wealth, it will be based on what you can bring to Switzerland.

I wish you luck ...
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:17
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

If you are rich, you can get permission to live here... Tina Turner did. Also you will be working, just not for a Swiss company.

Best thing to do would be to find a Swiss immigration expert... they will know about the residency/tax deals done for the wealthy in certain Swiss cantons and be able to organise it for you.
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Old 20.07.2020, 09:00
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

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If you are rich, you can get permission to live here... Tina Turner did. Also you will be working, just not for a Swiss company.
Tina Turner meets one very important criteria - her income is derived from royalties and investment not economic activity and is sufficient to cover her living expenses for an indefinite period.

If the OP needs to work or manage a company either in Switzerland or anywhere else he will not meet the criteria for such a permit.
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:18
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it will be based on what you can bring to Switzerland
Given that information, my start-up company currently has around 10 employees. If I were to hire Swiss citizens instead of segments of my current enrollment, would that change anything for example to provide value to Switzerland?


Alternatively, is there anything to do with marriage with Swiss citizens that changes the situation by chance?

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If you are rich, you can get permission to live here... Tina Turner did. Also you will be working, just not for a Swiss company.

Best thing to do would be to find a Swiss immigration expert... they will know about the residency/tax deals done for the wealthy in certain Swiss cantons and be able to organise it for you.

Ah, I see, that can make a lot of sense. Thank you for this clarification!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 20.07.2020 at 19:43. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:24
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

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Given that information, my start-up company currently has around 10 employees. If I were to hire Swiss citizens instead of segments of my current enrollment, would that change anything for example to provide value to Switzerland?


Alternatively, is there anything to do with marriage with Swiss citizens that changes the situation by chance?
If you are married to a Swiss citizen, you can live here as long as they can afford to support you. Would make it easier. But if you are working and have serious savings, you should get permission anyway. Beware, Switzerland tax’s wealth. Not just income, so you’d want to choose a low tax canton. You’ll still have to pay tax in the US too.

If you are not married to a Swiss citizen, you can apply for permanent residence after 5 years in CH. If married to a Swiss citizen, you can apply for citizenship after 3 years marriage, 5 years in CH. if you are married to a Swiss cit already, you are able to appl for citizenship after 6 years of marriage.
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:39
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

Oh, I didn't realize there was a wealth tax, thanks for informing me. That said, I'm mostly about trying to live somewhere of quality at this stage of my life, I'm not trying to dodge on any legal taxes owed in any particular jurisdiction.



I guess the real question is how you get to those first few years of residency in Switzerland then, I've already contacted a few agencies that I found with a quick search online. I've often had bad experiences with lawyers but hopefully Switzerland has ones of higher quality.


On the marriage issue, it would be tough to meet a woman, for example, and then want to get married a few years later if she were a good match if I couldn't extend past the first 90 days in the first place which has a similar issue listed above.



Overall, I'm sympathetic to the situation because if the country had immigration policies that were too lenient, the country probably wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. I just hope I can find a way in myself
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:48
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

As you have seen, it is difficult for a non-EU citizen to move to Switzerland. Wanting to move here because you are unhappy in the US/with the state of US governance, is simply not enough.

Americans especially are particularly toxic right now - if not officially then socially. And I say that as an American. If you manage to make it over here, do not expect an open-armed welcome.

The routes to residency are generally a sponsored work visa, generally only available to those with special skill sets in high demand that cannot be filled by a CH or EU citizen, marriage to a Ch or EU citizen, study in a recognised course, albeit this is a limited time visa, or as a UHNW who will not undertake work in Switzerland.

FYI, bringing a company here does not necessarily mean that you will get a residency permit. Your company generally has to be a serious contributor.

You mention you are a millionaire. But seven figures is generally not enough to interest the authorities*. If you are UHNW, though... have your people call their people to get the ball rolling. Seriously - this visa is for the select few and decisions are made case by case.

You will notice I have used qualifiers like 'generally' a lot - that's because in Switzerland there is a whole lotta YMMV.



*The old joke:

An American walks into a Paradeplatz bank carrying a briefcase. He furtively approaches the teller and whispers:

"I have a million dollars cash in this briefcase, and I'd like to open an account".

The teller, in a normal voice, says:

"Sir, there is no need to whisper. Poverty is no shame in Switzerland."


So... what is your education, what skills do you have that might be scarce in Switzerland, or do you qualify as UHNW?

Have you looked at other European countries? There are schemes in other countries that are easier for an American to access.

And one last comment: I know the grass looks greener in just about every other place on the planet at this moment - but do be aware that in Switzerland all that glisters is not gold. It has it's positives and it's negatives, just like anywhere else, and many Americans struggle to find their feet here due to very different cultural norms. If you do find a way to qualify for residency here, do be aware that one reason it's in better shape than the US right now is exactly those cultural differences. You will have to change.


Also be aware that if you make it here, citizenship is not simply a matter of time. You might never be granted citizenship.



By the way, as you are targeting Geneva, do you speak French? Or German or Italian? If you don't start working on that now. If you do manage to find a way in, competency in the Swiss languages of your area will be needed to maintain your stay here.


---

ETA:

Sorry for the repeated info, many posters type faster than I do...
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Old 20.07.2020, 08:45
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

Be cautious with the Tina Turner example. She came to Switzerland in 1994, when the rules were different. She also came with her partner Erwin Bach, an EU national (German) who she later married. She became Swiss, and renounced her US citizenship in 2014 (after 20 years residence).
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Old 20.07.2020, 12:31
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

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Beware, Switzerland tax’s wealth.
It is very low, so why beware?

Property tax in the US is far worse.

Tom
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Old 20.07.2020, 13:20
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Re: Options/Paths To Permanent Residency and Citizenship for a USA citizen

Some more info for you. To get a job here this is what any potential employer must do

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

Also there are requirements for you in there as well. If these can't be met then you wouldn't get a permit via employment.

Owning a company here doesn't grant residency rights so that won't really help you either.

Nor will being a millionaire particularly. If you don't want to work then it is possible to get a permit if you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the rest of your life without working. How much is enough only the canton in question could tell you. So that would rule out running your company here or in the States since that permit doesn't allow employment.

Other things to consider relate to being American. Firstly, getting a basic account here isn't easy since your choices are pretty much restricted to UBS, Credit Suisse and PostFinance. Maybe if you're wealthy enough a few more might consider you, but Americans in general are persons non gratis as far as banks here are concerned. You can blame the US's FATCA law for that. It also means that getting anything like an investment account or a mortgage may be impossible. To open an account here you'll need to agree that the bank can send the account details on to the IRS. Otherwise no bank account for you.

Related to the above, you need to realise that as an American citizen you're obliged to continue filing US tax returns no matter where you live in the world and could owe the US tax on top of any Swiss ones. You will also need to file FBAR's each year detailing your foreign, i.e. outside of the US, accounts if the aggregate total comes to more than $10,000 at any time of the year.

The only way to avoid this is to give up your American citizenship. To manage that you'd need to have another one: Swiss/EU because it's not a good idea to be stateless.

Also note that the above re banks passing info to the IRS applies worldwide; it's not just a Swiss thing. If you want to open an account anywhere outside of the US you're going to have to agree on your details being passed on.

To clarify the permits for you:

Permits are granted for residency. Whether they also allow employment as well depends on the reason they were granted. Unless you're a Swiss citizen you must have a permit to reside here.

An L permit is granted for less than a year.

A B permit is for more than a year.

C permit: This is a requirement to be able to apply for Swiss citizenship.

Years spent here on an L permit do not count towards citizenship as far as the residency requirement goes. For non-EU nationals you need to be living here for 10 years before you can apply for a C permit, although there is an option to apply after 5 years if you meet the requirements.

Citizenship: C permit required and must be well integrated into Swiss life. Here's the French page re the requirements since the new laws came in on 1st January 2018.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/fr/home...uergerung.html

Those are the Federal requirements. Cantons and communes also have their own requirements such as how long you have to have resided in said canton/commune, etc.

Bear in mind that it's not a quick procedure, sometimes it can take years before citizenship is granted.
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