After five years living in Switzerland on a B permit, most Americans and Canadians can apply for a C permit, which has certain benefits like 1) it’s good for an entire five years instead of just one and 2) it makes it easier to get a job and freelance like a normal person.
But here’s the catch: you must prove you have made an effort to integrate in order to receive the C permit. Never mind if you speak fluent Deutsch at the Migration Office, as we learned before, they are not paying attention to your Deutsch. They are looking at...um. Yeah.
So it doesn’t matter if you’re fluent, it matters if you have a piece of paper. After all, we are in Switzerland, people. Logic isn’t important. Paper is. The more expensive the paper, the better.
That’s why I’m going to spend over CHF 300 to take the Goethe Zertifikat B2 test. Because one of my German-speaking American friends was just refused a C permit despite logic. A fluent German speaker who had lived here for five years on a B permit, she must now wait another two years to apply for her C permit because she was ohne test certification when she filled out the paperwork.
Moral of the story: If you’ve been taking a German class (or are just naturally good at German) and have reached at least the A2 level, take the appropriate test in case you overstay your expected Swiss residency and want that C permit, after all. The next Geothe tests are in August/September and you must register for them by July 15. At minimum, you must pass the A2 test or higher to prove proficiency as far as the permit is concerned. Real life is another story.
Note: For a C permit, you must prove language proficiency of the language spoken in your canton. If you live in Zurich and have French certification, that’s great, but it doesn’t matter on your permit application. C'est la vie.