Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Permits/visas/government  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 14.08.2006, 21:35
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: St. Gallen, Switzerland
Posts: 3
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
houstonexpat has no particular reputation at present
self-employed wanting to get work permit

Hi,
I am a self-employed attorney (lawyer) here in St. Gallen, Switzerland. I am trying to obtain a work permit so that I can stay here for a few years. I have been a self-employed attorney for four years and believe I can continue to support myself.

Originally, I was going to join a law firm here, but I am hesitant about doing so. I particularly would like to avoid depending upon the law firm to obtain my work permit.

I know almost no German, but hope to learn. My daughter will be attending school here in the fall.

Any advice on where to go to apply for such a permit? I haven't as yet even figured out where city hall is in this town.

thanks,

houstonexpat
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 14.08.2006, 21:43
mark's Avatar
The Architect
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Zollikon, Switzerland
Posts: 2,995
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 418 Times in 115 Posts
mark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Since this is essentially about a work permit rather than starting a business I'm moving this to help and tips.

How long have you been in Switzerland, and what is your current permit. Your post is a little confusing. You say you are a self employed lawyer, and have been for four years - you mean in the states - not in Switzerland.

Are your qualifications recognised for practicing law in Switzerland? Since the legal systems are totally different I would think you'd have a major problem there....

You could possibly try to work for a big multinational, but that would mean being in a major city (i.e. not St. Gallen). I couldn't imagine you practicing law on a self-employed basis - especially with no German.

That's probably not the answer you wanted to hear.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 15.08.2006, 09:32
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: St. Gallen, Switzerland
Posts: 3
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
houstonexpat has no particular reputation at present
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Hi, Mark--
Thanks for the quick reply.
I am an intellectual property law attorney, registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I can pretty much practice that type of law from any location in the world, as much of the practice is done electronically.
You are correct, I have been self-employed in Houston, Texas, for the past 4 1/2 years.
I am currently here as a visitor, but looking for an apartment in St. Gallen. My contact person has said for months that he would obtain a work permit on my behalf, but he is stringing me along.
I am a very independent person and would prefer to do it myself, if that is possible.

any advice you can give is much appreciated.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 28.08.2006, 17:29
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: x
Posts: 85
Groaned at 4 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 6 Times in 5 Posts
David has made some interesting contributions
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Hi,

I'm not sure that your chances are at all good to get a permit here without an employer to sponsor you. Quite a few years back I wanted to leave my position (I had a B-Permit at the time) and work for myself. I've never heard a more clearly worded no. Unless you have a Swiss spouse or one with a C-Permit, I expect that you're going to have to go through things the normal way:
  1. Have an employer who thinks you're something special
  2. the employer convinces the Cantonal authorities that you're something REALLY special (so special in fact, that they couldn't find someone like you here or, now, in the EU).
  3. You wait for the process to complete.
  4. Usually, you need to pick up your paperwork before arriving here and entering the country.
What's your status here now? Normal "tourists" are allowed to enter the country without a visa and stay for up to two periods of three months, leaving between. Other than that, you're supposed to get a residency permit (Aufenthaltsbewilligung) to stay any longer.

I've been on most sides of this issue myself: first, getting my own B-Permit, trying to go independent, getting a C-permit, forming a company, trying to get B-permits for others, trying to get work-permits for my partner, etc.

The Federal folks responsible are in the Bundesamt für Migration. Most of their site is German (French and Italian), but some of it is in English. Have a look here for a few (probably depressing) notes: http://www.bfm.admin.ch/index.php?id=6&L=3

The Cantonal folks are bound the be the "Fremdenpolizei" and/or the "Arbeitsamt", but the Arbeitsamt isn't likely to talk to you without a permit and the Fremdenpolizei are likely to tell you that without an employer sponsor, you're not going to get either a job or a permit.

Sorry I couldn't be more help.

David
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 28.08.2006, 20:36
Scott's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Buchs SG
Posts: 1,205
Groaned at 26 Times in 18 Posts
Thanked 702 Times in 359 Posts
Scott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Hey Hous...

Mark and David said it all.

All I can offer is a tip. Get a job!

So, on the lighterside, check out the banks in Liechtenstein. From St. Gallen it is a hop and a skip, plus the international banks (large and small) would be a great place to get started till you get the C-Permit.

Of course, Liechtenstein has their own craziness and stacks of paperwork as does St. Gallen and Switzerland. If a bank wants you, they will pull strings to get you permitted.

Also, it is easier to be a resident of Switzerland and get the permit to work in Liechtenstein... at least as seen from the Liechtenstein side

Good luck!

PS: Why in the world St. Gallen?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 28.08.2006, 20:59
mark's Avatar
The Architect
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Zollikon, Switzerland
Posts: 2,995
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 418 Times in 115 Posts
mark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Quote:
PS: Why in the world St. Gallen?
I think he said something about a daughter attending school.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 29.08.2006, 20:03
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,184
Groaned at 15 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 77 Times in 72 Posts
danny has earned some respectdanny has earned some respect
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

I am not sure about this but I was asked a similar question about a US citizen getting a B permit in Switz. A friend wanted to bring over his girlfriend from US and asked me how difficult it would be get a sponsor.

I think that while officially it is of course difficult these days for non-EU folks to get a permit, I sense that the authorities would look favorably upon a US citizen than a citizen of an Asian or Latin American country. May not be true but could be. Not on paper though.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 29.08.2006, 20:08
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: x
Posts: 85
Groaned at 4 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 6 Times in 5 Posts
David has made some interesting contributions
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

I'm not convinced... At the end of the day, they have a set number of slots and whether you're a top specialist from the U.S. or Mexico, I don't think it would really matter. The "sponsor" issue is really all about a job. Getting a permit for a girlfriend is not the same thing as getting one for a spouse. The authorities have to be more selective now that pretty much the entire EU is allowed in.

At the end of the day, it's all about being a specialist in some field - most likely not about being a U.S., Japanese or Indonesian citizen...
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 29.08.2006, 23:40
mark's Avatar
The Architect
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Zollikon, Switzerland
Posts: 2,995
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 418 Times in 115 Posts
mark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Quote:
At the end of the day, it's all about being a specialist in some field - most likely not about being a U.S., Japanese or Indonesian citizen...
It would be nice if that were true. My girlfriend found someone she wanted to hire (with specialised skills) from the Philipines. She was told to forget about applying because they wouldn't believe that someone from the Philipines would have the required skills, but they would be more likely to believe it if they came from the US.

Perhaps the view that skills matter rather than where you come from is the one we'd like to believe is the case - however I think the reality is a bit different. Maybe bigger companies have more sway with the authorities and more chance of getting them to look at the situation objectively?
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 30.08.2006, 09:00
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Zurich
Posts: 405
Groaned at 14 Times in 9 Posts
Thanked 281 Times in 151 Posts
Aussie Lisa is considered knowledgeableAussie Lisa is considered knowledgeableAussie Lisa is considered knowledgeable
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

As they all said, get a job.

The only way to get a permit as self-employed is to prove that you have several clients already and an income. Clients from the US may also count, but you have to prove you are not a liability to the community. Your gemeinde can help you, or the Immigration Office in your town.

Lisa
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 30.08.2006, 10:29
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: x
Posts: 85
Groaned at 4 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 6 Times in 5 Posts
David has made some interesting contributions
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Being a specialist isn't something that you can just claim in any case. Whether you're from the U.S. or the Philippines, you'll need to have your credentials documented in such a way that they can make a decision. It's not impossible that you might run up against a bureaucrat with a racist bent, but I'm sure it's not policy to favor U.S. (especially not with the current administration in Washington...) over other nationals.

There's now just a huge gap between Swiss/EU and everyone else - for everyone else it makes it harder, no matter where you're from.

The various Cantons have an allotment of a certain number of new "B" Permits per year. When I last had to go up against this to get one for an employee, that number was on the order of 1000.

I don't believe that things have changed (except maybe for the worse) since I tried, but the idea of coming over and "hiring yourself" as a consultant, say, is hugely unlikely to fly - unless you're fabulously wealthy and can cut a deal with the local authorities. For the rest of us, a company has to want to hire you and convince the Cantonal employment authorities that you're really something special. AndTHEN you need a fair amount of good luck. Being in the right Canton can help. I've had much better luck in Schwyz and Aargau than in Zürich.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 30.08.2006, 10:42
mark's Avatar
The Architect
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Zollikon, Switzerland
Posts: 2,995
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 418 Times in 115 Posts
mark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond reputemark has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Quote:
Being a specialist isn't something that you can just claim in any case. Whether you're from the U.S. or the Philippines, you'll need to have your credentials documented in such a way that they can make a decision. It's not impossible that you might run up against a bureaucrat with a racist bent, but I'm sure it's not policy to favor U.S. (especially not with the current administration in Washington...) over other nationals.
Well in the story I told the applicant could have shown the relevant credentials, but the employer was told not to bother applying. Was it just a bureaucrat with a racist bent? Go over to the racist thread and check the story of the RAV and sending a black person for an interview - on checking with the boss of that bureaucrat it was stated that it was "policy" to inform prospective employers that the applicant was black before sending a CV. Back to the work permit issue - I have another friend who wanted to employ a Russian for a specialist role in which the Russian language was a requirement. He fought for months and eventually gave up. He had the law on his side but they refused to budge.

I agree that there is a big gap between EU and non-EU, but prior to this there was always a big gap between "good countries" and "bad countries" - in the company I used to work in there were a couple of really good Russian guys - I remember that the HR woman told me that she had to fight like mad to get them, whereas she had no problems with me and I wasn't as well qualified as they were. A coincident? An isolated case based on the personal views of a bureaucrat? I'd like to think so, but I doubt it very much.

I do agree that this may vary greatly between cantons - my above experiences apply to canton Zurich.

Can anyone find a document from departments such as the RAV, Fremdenpolizei, Migrationsamt etc that state that they have a policy of non-discrimination and treat all applicants equaly regardless of their skin colour, nationality or religion?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 30.08.2006, 10:54
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: x
Posts: 85
Groaned at 4 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 6 Times in 5 Posts
David has made some interesting contributions
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Quote:
He had the law on his side but they refused to budge.

Can anyone find a document from departments such as the RAV, Fremdenpolizei, Migrationsamt etc that state that they have a policy of non-discrimination and treat all applicants equaly regardless of their skin colour, nationality or religion?
Well, the law never states that the employment authorities HAVE to let any non-Swiss be hired (now, the EU citizens are essentially as good as Swiss for this purpose). They're given a quota and get to decide themselves how it is used. Often it makes some sense to apply early in the year before they're nearly all used up. What's more, there's nearly always some clause which leaves the decision to the given Bureaucrat/office "nach Ermessen".

The BFM has a lot of documentation (though most of it in German), including "Weisungen" (directions for their staff as to how to go about it all). For a *good read*, maybe consider http://www.bfm.admin.ch/index.php?id=655

I haven't been through it all but I've been through much of it. I also find, that if you can go to the authorities and quote their own Weisungen, you get a lot farther, faster.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 30.08.2006, 11:39
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Luzern currently
Posts: 2,565
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 720 Times in 373 Posts
Richard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

There is a piece of the puzzle missing here and that is the relationship (custody) to your daughter and the other elternteil. Which begs the question why St. Gallen. If you have a right to stay based on your daughter and you have no effective way of supporting yourself you then have a right to a permit but I would have to go through books to find out the where and why bit and the time is missing...
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 30.08.2006, 11:57
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: St. Gallen, Switzerland
Posts: 3
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
houstonexpat has no particular reputation at present
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

thanks to everyone for the insightful comments and assistance. I was pretty much in the dark about how this process worked, and even the person courting me to come and work here for many months now had not fully apprised me of the bureaucracy involved. So, i really appreciate the information.

The paperwork has been submitted by the Swiss law firm hiring me, and I am crossing my fingers that it will all work out. I have been told of the possiblity of using a short-cut with one of my big clients, who may be able to obtain a work permit more easily, as alluded to in one of the messages. I prefer not to play that card unless necessary.

Why St. Gallen? Why not? It is beautiful here and I am finding the way of life quite enjoyable. We have been to Zurich by train and hope to visit many more places, in and out of Switzerland.

Once we get through this paperwork difficulty, I know we will love living abroad.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 30.08.2006, 12:56
Scott's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Buchs SG
Posts: 1,205
Groaned at 26 Times in 18 Posts
Thanked 702 Times in 359 Posts
Scott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond reputeScott has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Quote:
Why St. Gallen? Why not? It is beautiful here and I am finding the way of life quite enjoyable.
Fully agree with you, this expat is sitting between the cows and farms of the Rheintal between Switzerland and Liechtenstein... and loving it!

The entire Canton of St. Gallen has lots to offer, with neighboring two Appenzeller Cantons, Graubunden to the South and Austria/Liechtenstein to the East there is lots to do and see here. Check out the Veranstaltungskalendar in your community for details!

The City of St. Gallen is worth the trip. We go about once every couple of months for a shopping trip. I am also in St. Gallen for all the home games of the St. Gallen Soccer Team at the Espenmoos stadium.

Enjoy the "East-Side" Houston, if you are ever in the highlands of St. Gallen give me a ring!

Bests
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 30.08.2006, 15:23
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,184
Groaned at 15 Times in 13 Posts
Thanked 77 Times in 72 Posts
danny has earned some respectdanny has earned some respect
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Hi

Just to round off the discussion. I think it is obviously a prerequisite (almost) to be a specialist, but after that its a combination of canton, country etc. which do play some role. And this is not possible to prove, although the Russian example above does say something.

The other way out is to come in as an executive (intra-company transfer). Of course, there are too many variables here too.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 31.08.2006, 10:04
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Luzern currently
Posts: 2,565
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 720 Times in 373 Posts
Richard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond reputeRichard has a reputation beyond repute
Re: self-employed wanting to get work permit

Just one other thing, I do hope that you will be working in Kanton SG as otherwise you are pushing out too many boats...

By the way is Sankt Gallen not the home of Switzerland's first Bank?!
Reply With Quote
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT +2. The time now is 16:01.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0