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Old 11.08.2006, 22:20
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employment/visa advice sought

Hello all and welcome to my first post on what appears to be a very helpful website and community.

Here's my situation (any advice is appreciated):

I'm an American. My long-time girlfriend has been working for a Swiss company in the US and just got transferred, for one year, to their Lucerne office. I want to live with her while she's there, but am not sure how I can legally (and gainfully) do this.

I'm two years out of college, with solid work experience in publishing and marketing. I also have done a significant amount of freelance writing for large magazines.

I've tried to look for jobs, but it seems hard for an american to get work there, because of all the work permit requirements.

I think I may be able to support myself through freelance writing for American publications (although this theory has yet to be tested.) Of course, if I do this, it doesn't seem that there's any kind of Visa that would simply allow me to live in Switzerland for a year. I'm fairly confident that I could live illegally and not be caught, but am not entirely comfortable with that notion. If I did do this, I would be happy to any sort of under-the-table work, but don't know how much of that is available.

Oh yeah, I don't speak German.

Any advice?

Last edited by raph; 12.08.2006 at 00:01.
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Old 12.08.2006, 10:53
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Re: employment/visa advice sought

Hi raph,

You face some tough decisions. The problem is that Switzerland won't recognise your status as a life partner. To them you are either married or you aren't - nothing in between. This means that unless you can find someone to employ you and get you a work permit, you have almost no chance of being allowed to stay. You would need skills which are in demand. Being from outside the EU also stacks heavily against you, since now EU passport holders get permits, meaning that everyone else goes to the back of the queue.

I would see that you'd have three other options: 1. Get married (I would suggest if you do this, do it before come to Switzerland, not during your stay it will be too complicated). 2. Don't come with her, probably not what you wanted to hear. 3. Live with her, but only on a holiday status. I think you can get a visa for up to three months, and you may have to leave again and then come back "on holiday". Without a permit you couldn't really expect to participate in Swiss life to the same level - in other words no bank account, pre-paid phone only, no apartment rental in your name, no car, the list goes on. Basically everything would have to be done by your girlfriend and you would only be a tourist.

Especially for the situation with option 3 I would suggest that you contact your nearest Swiss embassy (or google) and find out exactly what the situation is for tourists who want to do extended stays.
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Old 30.08.2006, 17:57
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Re: employment/visa advice sought

A little extra input, though it might sound implausible. If you're PLANNING to get married and can convince the authorities that there's a good reason for not yet doing so (for me, it was a pending divorce...), they might provide you with a temporary residence permit. It happened for my partner in Schwyz (but it took some quality time face-to-face with the Fremdenpolizei).

The gainful part is something else altogether. My partner's permit won't allow her to work for the duration, though, upon asking again I was told that it *could* be possible, if the work were something approaching part time instead of full. All of THAT depends upon the approval of the Arbeitsamt in the canton where the job is located.

Some of the official immigration regulations are found here: http://www.bfm.admin.ch/index.php?id=278&L=3. Those are even in English. The full texts are only in D/F/I.
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