How to Move from the United States to Switzerland and Get a Work Permit?

Are you thinking about escaping America and moving out of the United States and over to the neutral country of Switzerland? Whether you are hoping to move to a large city like Geneva or a remote area, there is a lot that you need to know about this daunting process. Moving to another country from the United States is not as simple as picking up and moving across the US, and it is especially difficult for an American to move to Switzerland. There are a few things that you need to know before considering a move to the beautiful country of Switzerland.

How to Move from the United States to Switzerland and Get a Work Permit?

Moving to Switzerland?

Switzerland is notorious for being a difficult country to gain entry to the workforce as a non-resident. Recently it became easier for European Union residents to move to and begin working in Switzerland. Unfortunately, that does nothing to help people in the United States fulfill dreams of moving to and working in Switzerland. As an American, it will seem as if almost all doors to your dream of moving to Switzerland have been slammed shut.

What it comes down to, is that the only way for an American to move to Switzerland and get a job legally is by gaining employment with one of the large international companies that are based out of Switzerland. The good news is that most Swiss employers have superb reputations as far as being good employers. In fact, many of the large companies in Switzerland are even willing to hire someone with the right technical skills regardless of their language proficiency. Remember that the Swiss languages are German, French, and Italian, with each being spoken in the respective regions where Germany, France, and Italy meet the Swiss borders. If you work for a company in the US that has an office in Switzerland, then it might be easiest for you to simply apply for a transfer.

As with all rules, there are a few exceptions to this immigration policy. Allowances are made for highly qualified specialists and top executives to be awarded work permits in the form of residence permits. This type of permit is extremely hard to come by and even harder to get renewed if you are lucky enough to be granted one initially.

The workaround?

A popular way of obtaining work permits for younger Americans is to fully utilize the three-month rule. A quick check of almost any expat message board will certainly feature messages from 20-something Americans anxious to either go to or stay in Switzerland. The overwhelming solutions seem to be to take small jobs such as being a nanny or independent English teacher while looking for permanent work over the three-month period that you are allowed to stay in the country legally. Then, once that period is up, they leave the country for a while and then return for another three-month stint where they resume the job search.

If you are lucky enough to be awarded a work permit and are able to stay in Switzerland, be warned that integration in this country is much more difficult than it seems to be in most other countries. Most expats end up rounding out their circle of friends with other expats.