Indian student Arasan lost his Swiss permit while on holiday. Getting a new one proved tougher than he anticipated.
December 12, 2018 was a disaster for me. I lost my wallet in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, it had my Swiss residence permit inside. A week later I went to the Lucerne cantonal immigration office and submitted a request for a new permit. The process was simple. They made a copy of the report that the Dutch police gave me and that was it. I chose the option to collect it from the office as home delivery takes longer. I had to travel to India in a month and didn’t want to take any chances. The staff in the counter assured me that the permit would be ready to collect in two weeks.
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Two weeks later, I visited the immigration office to follow up. My permit had not arrived. However, I was informed that I could opt for an express service by paying an extra CHF20 extra. I agreed even though I was annoyed that I wasn’t told about this service on my first visit.
A week rolled by and I was still waiting for the call but in vain. Four days before my India trip I went to the immigration office to ask about my permit. The unhelpful staff at the counter kept repeating that I needed to be patient. After much persuasion, I was given a printout with a number that I could use to track my permit in the postal system.
To my dismay, the tracking showed the pin code as 6002 while my address is 6005 Lucerne. Exasperated by the office staff, I went to the main post office of Lucerne and showed them the tracking number. It turned out that it was not the tracking number but merely details of the movement of the consignment.
A helpful young man at the post office told me that the information indicated that my permit had been delivered to an organisation’s post box in the post office. He suggested that I visit the post office that handles letters belonging to the 6002 pin code area and gave me directions to get there.
The lady at the counter could not comprehend my situation and was unable to assist without a real tracking number. She suggested that I come the next day and talk directly to the postman who delivers the letters. I returned to the post office the next day. It was a Saturday and I had to leave for India on Tuesday morning. Sunday is a holiday and I was determined to arrive at a conclusion. The postman was able to tell me that the letter was sent to the immigration office. I thanked him and went back home.
One day before my flight to India, I returned to the immigration office. The lady at the counter was sympathetic to my plight this time. She spent 10 minutes on the computer trying to figure out what happened to my permit and made around six phone calls, including to the post office. No luck though.
She finally said she would talk to her boss and see if I could be issued a re-entry Swiss visa free of cost. I agreed and waited patiently. After 20 minutes, she returned with my missing permit! The document handling section had misplaced it. I was too relieved to be annoyed and wholeheartedly thanked her.