Monday, June 14, 2010

Want a C Permit? Take that test.

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.

20 comments:

M'dame Jo said...

I don't think it's really shocking to prove your fluency with a certificate. Try to enter an American student exchange program (and probably many other things) without a sufficient score at the TOEFL exam, even if you're fluent and can prove it in an interview: won't happen. It's often a requirement. I fear that language certificates are the norm. And not a swiss norm.

That said, good luck with you ZMP.
Plus the ZMP is not nearly as bad as the TOEFL.

Chantal said...

I don't think it's shocking either, I just don't know if most people realize it's a requirement. I certainly had no idea that you needed this proof just to get the C permit. Although I had heard you needed proficiency to get a passport.

M'dame Jo said...

Well, to be honest, I don't really know these things anymore: I got my C permit when I was 3, after my mother married a swiss guy (it was much easier 30 years ago) and I became swiss when I was 20. I didn't have to take any test, it was quite obvious I spoke French (being French and raised in Romandie). Everything that has to do with immigration is actually Kanton and Gemeind dependent (remember Emmen?), I didn't have to take any test or prove I can make fondue...

mrsmac said...

Good luck on your test!

PS- We found out what is taking so long with our permit renewal. The woman who has it is not on vacation, she's out for burn out. Who knows if our permit will be renewed before we leave.

Janne said...

I understand your frustration on this one. When I lived in Finland back in the 90s I had to renew my work/residence permit every year even though I was an European citizen and I had a job.
Bureaucracy isn't necessarily logical but a necessity and far too often a time consuming and expensive one. :/ I think Germans are also experts in terms of bureaucracy.

mrschlosser said...

Very interesting. I've gotten my C permit twice (long story) without ever being told of a fluency requirement. I do speak German, but have no papers to prove it.

I am definitely counting my blessings right about now!

Chantal said...

Update from my German-speaking American friend: They extended my B permit for two years as a sort of "booby prize" instead of a C. I'm allowed to turn in the German certification whenever I get it, so hopefully I'll "upgrade" my B to a C in the fall.

M'dame Jo said...

Well, you know, it could be worse: you could have to take a swiss german test ;-)

Chantal said...

You are right. Instead I take a test that proves that I could live really well in Germany...

Jul said...

Seriously, since when is German spoken in Züri?

Chantal said...

I know. Story of my crappy German-speaking life.

CM said...

I am a US citizen working, living and doing business in Switzerland since 7 years with B permit. When I applied for C permit last year they told me that I have to have minimum B2 level or higher German proficiency , and not A2 level as your blog posted. Also new Alien Act AA went into effect Jan 2008, under this law art. 46AA, members of a B permit holder's family who have come to join permit holder in Switzerland are now permitted to take on gainful employment or self employment anywhere in Switzerland and in the case of gainful employment this is possible without a permit., In the case of L permit holder, in principle, they require a permit in both cases. that is why B permit is reduced drastically.
I do not understand why Swiss Government immigration department do not post clear cut instructions, procedure etc., for all common people for all nations in all circumstances, who wants enter as immigrants. God bless America, you can go to any government website especially immigration department , you have clear cut instruction, procedure with open arms for people to enter as immigrants. Yes, it is difficult paper work procedure but there is clear instructions with out confusion. I have read over 100 blogs about Swiss permits but no one gives a clear cut information and / or instructions. I guess it still a secret society !

richardm said...

Hi, just found this post in a Google search... It seems that the rules governing conversion from B to C are a little different in the various cantons. Here in VD, there seems to be no language requirement at this time. Many employees at my company have acquired a C with nothing but extra paperwork. FWIW...

Chantal said...

Yes, as everything else in Switzerland, you must abide by the laws of the canton. So there are probably 26 versions of what you need to get a C permit since there are 26 cantons. As far as the Frau knows, this post is relevant for Americans living in canton Zurich. In canton Aargau, as the Frau later discovered, no language proficiency test is necessary for an American to obtain a C-permit.

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