Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Applying for a Swiss visa

One of the most important hurdles Ashley and I need to clear before we can move to Lausanne is making sure we get all the paperwork squared away. Right now, that means we need to figure out our visa situation. Fortunately I am an EU citizen (Grazie mille to my Italian ancestors!), and even though Switzerland is not in the European Union, there is an agreement in place which means I don't require a Swiss visa. But Ashley is not an EU citizen (well, not yet anyway) so we still need to make sure we get her application taken care of. After all, if my girl can't come with me, I'm not going anywhere!

We are hoping to submit all our paperwork to the Embassy in the next couple of days. Having to go through this process makes me slightly apprehensive, because it's crucial to make sure everything goes smoothly. Doesn't matter how hard I worked to get into IMD, if the visa doesn't get approved, well, there goes that plan! (And that big first deposit too!)

Here in DC the Swiss Embassy is open 9am to 12pm, Monday through Friday, so that's not ideal with work and everything. But hopefully they operate with the trademark Swiss efficiency in there. It can take upwards of 12 weeks for the visa to be processed. That's quite a long time! Thankfully we still have some cushion, but I can imagine it must be kind of a nightmare for the later round applicants to make sure they figure everything out in time.

It's actually kind of hard to find a definitive list, but as far as I can tell the requirements for the visa seem fairly straight-forward:

  • A filled application form
  • Two passport photos (which, as one may expect from the Swiss, must conform to a bunch of rules)
  • A $79 payment made in cash or money order the day of the application
  • The current passport, obviously
  • The certificate of attendance from IMD
  • Proof of sufficient financial means

Now that last item there is kind of a wild card. How do you demonstrate proof of financial means? From what I've been reading, you should be able to show CHF 1,500 to 2,000 per month you will live in Switzerland, in addition to your housing costs. That's not a small amount! I wonder how strict the consulate will be, and whether they expect you to just have all this cash sitting in your bank account (which I imagine most people probably don't). So Ashley and I have collected a bunch of paperwork to present to them, basically to make it really clear that we won't be living off of Swiss welfare next year. We figure it's better to have more letters, statements and detail than necessary, rather than having the Consulate call us three weeks later to clarify things or request additional documentation.

Another thing Ashley and I need to do is to register with the canton of Vaud, where Lausanne is located. Thankfully much of the documentation is the same that we will submit for the visa (application form, IMD acceptance certificate, proof of financial means), and in addition we will write a short letter letting them know we are also working on the visa application through the Swiss Embassy in DC. The canton requires hard copies to be mailed in, so I imagine it will probably take a little while to get processed as well.

The MBA support team at IMD has provided a lot of useful information and have made themselves available (by email, phone and even Skype!) to answer any questions, which has been super helpful, and extremely appreciated. Fingers crossed everything will work go smoothly and we'll be able to check one more thing off our list!

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