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Old 19.06.2021, 00:50
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Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

Hello!

Thank you so much for setting up this forum, and thank you, in particular, to those who have been so generous with answers to others’ questions! I’m so glad I found this forum! I’ve read numerous messages with tons of very helpful information, but I haven’t found info (even using the search function) that addresses my family’s specific situation, and so I’d like to introduce myself and ask a few questions.

My wife (US citizen only) has been offered a job as a postdoc at the University of Zürich. I (her husband) and our two young children are all EU citizens (dual US-Netherlands). All four of us are currently living in the US. The postdoc position that my wife has been offered is for work at 70% of full time for 4 years, in the form of renewable one-year contracts.

We’ve got a few questions about the immigration paperwork we will require. If I have understood correctly, the EU-Swiss Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) has provisions for EU citizens who come to work in Switzerland and who bring their family members (whether those family members are EU citizens or not). The AFMP does not, I think, envision non-EU citizens coming to work in Switzerland and bringing their EU-citizen family members. So, I suspect the AFMP does not apply to our situation. I have not, however, explored the full extent of Swiss immigration legislation, and so we are very grateful for the expertise of the folks of this forum.

Assuming that the AFMP is not applicable to our situation, our first big question is this: Obviously, my wife will require an ‘authorized visa’ in order to enter Switzerland, but do our kids and I (all EU citizens) require family reunification visas in order to enter Switzerland with her? I know EU citizens do not normally require a visa to enter Switzerland, but our situation is not ‘normal’, in that I (the EU-citizen spouse) am not going to Switzerland with a job contract lined up, but am rather going as the ‘trailing spouse’.

And if the three of us do require family reunification visas in order to enter Switzerland, can we apply for those simultaneously with applying for my wife’s authorized visa? I ask this question because we need to enter Switzerland together; our children are very young, and living apart for 8-12 weeks, with my wife in Switzerland and the kids and I still in the US, is simply not an option for us. (Yes, we realize that if we need to be apart for 8-12 weeks, then this is a deal-breaker for my wife’s accepting the job offer.)

Our next question is about residence/work permits: The job my wife has been offered is a postdoc, so, if I understand correctly, she won’t require a labor market test in order to get a residence permit, but it also means that she will get a student permit with permission to work, rather than a standard residence/work permit. Given that our kids and I would be accompanying my non-EU-citizen wife, would the residence permits for us three EU citizens be of the non-EU variety (which, I think, require language proficiency for the spouse and which may or may not permit employment) or of the EU variety (which do not have those limitations, if I understand correctly)? I ask this because we need to know whether I need to acquire proof of my language proficiency in German/French/Italian.

Finally, if I find employment of my own in Switzerland, would we be able to invoke the rights contained in the AFMP and switch the residence permits for all four of us to the EU variety with relative ease? Or would that be a complicated process?

Oh, and one more question: If she takes the job, we are tentatively planning to get a long-term airbnb while we look for an actual apartment to live in. We’re trying to figure out whether this is feasible, or whether we would require the actual apartment address before we could register with the Gemeinde and apply for our residence permits. The advice I’ve seen on the forum is: Check with the Canton about whether they’d be OK with a temporary airbnb stay. Does anyone have any further advice on this?

I apologize for any questions I have asked that are answered elsewhere on this forum. And I’m sorry for any aspects of Swiss immigration law or policy that I have misunderstood. Regardless, a very big Thank You, in advance, to all of you who write replies!

Sincerely,
Nederlandse Amerikaan
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Old 19.06.2021, 10:11
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Re: Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

Welcome to the forum and hopefully soon to Switzerland.

EU nationals always have the right to come to Switzerland, regardless of family circumstances. While your wife will need a Type D visa to enter Switzerland for more than the 90 day tourist limit, neither you or the children will need them. You can enter with her without problems. And you can certainly apply for the family reunification permits at the same time as hers is applied for, in fact it would be better to do so. If she takes up the job offer she should ask the university to apply for these along with her application. The embassy/consulate would just not bother with the Type D's for you and the kids once the permits are approved.

Since your permits would be dependent on hers they will be residence only initially; however again as an EU national there would be no problem with you seeking work as there is no hiring criteria that employers would have to meet to be able to hire you. And the Netherlands has an agreement with Switzerland whereby no Swiss language proficiency requirements are needed. As for switching the permits around so you would be the main permit holder, that I don't know. You'd have to talk to the cantonal migration office about that.

AirBnB accommodation is not accepted by all cantons as a proper address for registering your residency here which is why you need to check with them first before booking anything. The main reason is that your permits will be sent in the post so you need to be able to put your name on the post box.

Other things you should be aware of before making your decision:

US citizens are persons non gratis here for most banks; they will not accept your wife and maybe you as well if you want a joint account. Only UBS, Credit Suisse and PostFinance will consider you and that only for a basic checking account. This is due to the US's FATCA law which came into force a while back. She/you will need to fill in W-9 forms allowing the bank to pass your bank info on to the IRS to be able to open an account here.

Also as a US citizen (and you as a Green Card holder I assume) will still have US tax filing obligations no matter where you live in the world. Start your research on that here. While it's easy for you to avoid this by getting rid of your Green Card (a form to fill in, but make sure to take a copy of it as it's the only proof you have given up the card), the only way for your wife to avoid it is to renounce her citizenship.

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/inte...g-requirements

It's best not to have joint bank accounts.

There will also be FBAR forms to fill in online detailing your bank info.

My main concern would be the salary; at 70% I'm not sure the cantonal authorities would consider that enough to support you and 2 children. I would try and contact them to see if they can give you guidance about whether they would see it as enough to grant you all residence permits. It may depend on whatever savings you could also show to have. Yes, you may get a job quickly which would help, but you won't have that when you're applying for the permits once you arrive.
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Old 19.06.2021, 13:08
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Re: Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

Hello,

I think you don't have to worry about the language. But if it's critical that you arrive together to CH there might be several options.

One option is that she applies with her job and family reunion for husband and children at the same time. She'll get the permit for sure. For family reunion some money in the bank will be asked. The money should be larger than what's needed to sustain the husband with no job and two children for 1 year. You get a B permit for work, you start working and by next time you apply for a new permit you already have a job. I had to leave to wash the car but we can check later what's the minimum amount to get a family reunion permit with no job. It's only 1 year, so it's doable.

The other option is to come as tourists from Netherlands, taking care you don't exceed 90 days. Once you land a job, apply for family reunion.

What Medea mentioned is a thing to put a lot of attention. Quite probably the 70% job as post-doc will not be enough as only income to get a permit for the whole family.
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Old 20.06.2021, 06:36
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Re: Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

Dear Medea Fleecestealer and Axa,

Thank you so much for your very helpful and informative messages!

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For family reunion some money in the bank will be asked. The money should be larger than what's needed to sustain the husband with no job and two children for 1 year. ... we can check later what's the minimum amount to get a family reunion permit with no job. It's only 1 year, so it's doable.
If you could find those minimum amounts, or a link to where those amounts are listed, that would be super helpful, thank you!

I should perhaps also mention that I myself am a PhD student at a US university; I'm just working on writing my dissertation, so I don't have to be at the university in the US and can accompany my family to Switzerland. But getting a paying job in addition to working on my dissertation will be difficult. This is an incentive for me to finish my dissertation quickly!

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EU nationals always have the right to come to Switzerland, regardless of family circumstances. While your wife will need a Type D visa to enter Switzerland for more than the 90 day tourist limit, neither you or the children will need them. You can enter with her without problems. And you can certainly apply for the family reunification permits at the same time as hers is applied for, in fact it would be better to do so. If she takes up the job offer she should ask the university to apply for these along with her application. The embassy/consulate would just not bother with the Type D's for you and the kids once the permits are approved.
This is a huge relief; thank you!

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US citizens are persons non gratis here for most banks; they will not accept your wife and maybe you as well if you want a joint account. Only UBS, Credit Suisse and PostFinance will consider you and that only for a basic checking account. This is due to the US's FATCA law which came into force a while back. She/you will need to fill in W-9 forms allowing the bank to pass your bank info on to the IRS to be able to open an account here.

Also as a US citizen (and you as a Green Card holder I assume) will still have US tax filing obligations no matter where you live in the world. Start your research on that here. While it's easy for you to avoid this by getting rid of your Green Card (a form to fill in, but make sure to take a copy of it as it's the only proof you have given up the card), the only way for your wife to avoid it is to renounce her citizenship.

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/inte...g-requirements

It's best not to have joint bank accounts.

There will also be FBAR forms to fill in online detailing your bank info.
We are not rich fat cats, and so I'm not afraid of FATCA and FBAR, but I know that many non-US banks find the FATCA requirements so onerous that they would prefer not to have US persons as customers. I'm sure we'll need a Swiss bank account for the deposits of my wife's salary, so thank you for the suggestions about which banks accept US citizens. A basic checking account will be sufficient for accepting those salary deposits, right?

BTW, I'm not a US green card holder; our children and I are dual US-Netherlands citizens, and none of us has any desire to give us our US citizenship. But I am fully aware that we'll have to pay (or at least file) taxes on all income worldwide to the US, even on income that has already been taxed by Switzerland. Filing two sets of tax returns is not too bad; I just hope that the Swiss income will not be doubly taxed too badly. As for the FBAR form, I've needed to fill those out before, and they're not too difficult.

But given that both my wife and I are US citizens (even though I am also an EU citizen), is there still a problem with a joint bank account? I mean, the bank will have to do FATCA reporting, and we'll have to do FBAR reporting, no matter whether our account is joint or only in my wife's name, right?

In any case, thank you once more, Medea Fleecestealer and Axa, for your extremely helpful responses! I'm so glad we found this forum!

Sincerely,
Nederlandse Amerikaan
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Old 20.06.2021, 10:53
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Re: Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

No, a joint account wouldn't be a problem since you're both US; just means you both need to fill in the W-9 form for the bank. And yes, a basic checking account will do for salary deposits. If you plan to eventually buy a property here it's another story though. Unlikely to get a mortgage from a bank here.
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Old 20.06.2021, 13:51
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Re: Non-EU has job offer in Zürich; other family members are EU; all currently in US

Welcome to the Forum, OP.

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...The other option is to come as tourists from Netherlands, taking care you don't exceed 90 days. Once you land a job, apply for family reunion...
It sounds like the wife is supposed to start working as a post-doc upon arrival. For a non-EU, I don't recommend arriving as a tourist and starting work without having done all the paperwork in advance.

However if she has some time, then this might work assuming the EU spouse can find work quickly.

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...I'm sure we'll need a Swiss bank account for the deposits of my wife's salary, so thank you for the suggestions about which banks accept US citizens. A basic checking account will be sufficient for accepting those salary deposits, right?

...Filing two sets of tax returns is not too bad; I just hope that the Swiss income will not be doubly taxed too badly. As for the FBAR form, I've needed to fill those out before, and they're not too difficult.

... is there still a problem with a joint bank account? I mean, the bank will have to do FATCA reporting, and we'll have to do FBAR reporting, no matter whether our account is joint or only in my wife's name, right?
The banks listed above are most common. Of those, PostFinance probably has the lowest fee of 5 CHF per month for a basic account. PostFinance offers services in English. I think UBS and Credit Suisse might too.

I happen to be with MigrosBank at only 3 CHF per month and it's worked fine. I'm not sure if they're still accepting American customers though. Migros only does German, French or Italian. But if you can handle a local langugage and they'll take you, Migros is about the cheapest option.

Yes, you'll file taxes in both places. Odds are you'll only pay tax in Switzerland, at least early on. For the USA, The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) and either the Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE) or Foreign Housing Deduction (FHD) should zero out almost everything you earn in Switzerland on post-doc salaries, meaning your taxable income in the USA would drop to zero.

For 2021, the FEIE is $108,700. FEIE info here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/inte...come-exclusion

FHE and FHD info here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/inte...n-or-deduction

There's a lot of reading to do. It may be worthwhile to hire a tax professional to help you the first year and after that you can figure it out yourselves.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 20.06.2021 at 16:26. Reason: tried to clarify a bit
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