Indian student Arasan is still paying the price for his choice of residence entered in his visa application form.
The most important thing about the visa application is that you can pick which Swiss canton processes your visa application. Unlike Germany, France, UK or the US, the Swiss student visa application doesn’t get processed at the Swiss embassy in India. The application is sent straight away to the canton of your choice to be processed. When I applied, I didn’t know of the various cantonal processing problems. Every canton processes the application in their own way: Some are fast and some are super slow.
The “probable address in Switzerland” section in the visa application form is used by the embassy to determine which canton the application must be sent. A former student at a Swiss university wrongly advised me to enter the university’s address in this section as I didn’t yet have a place to stay. But, this is not compulsory. Many of my classmates choose cantons according to their convenience even if it is not that same one the university is located.
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Another point to be noted here is that the student will be allowed to stay only in the canton entered in the application form. If the person wants to change the canton of residence, they have to apply to the new canton. There is no automatic right to switch cantons for non-EU students.
There are numerous reasons to choose the canton of your residence carefully. In my case, I applied to the canton of Lucerne as I study at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Artsexternal link. I did this on the advice of my friend even though I knew my classes are held in another campus in the neighbouring canton of Zug, As a result, I now stay in Lucerne, study in Zug and work part time in yet another canton (Zurich). This is inconvenient and a very costly process with the super expensive Swiss public transport system.
The work and residence opportunities differ from canton to canton. For instance, in a canton like Lucerne where I live, finding affordable student accommodation is relatively easy. But, the region has two drawbacks: part-time work opportunities are extremely limited and Lucerne’s immigration office can be considered the most dysfunctional institution in Switzerland (I will explain in another blog post). Lucerne also lacks Indian associations or an Indian community.
Canton Zug also has its own drawbacks: both accommodation and part-time work opportunities are extremely limited. However, they have a superb immigration office that handles everything like a breeze. Also, there are lots of companies based there providing you with ample professional networking opportunities. Big cities like Zurich offer a wide range of accommodation and part-time work opportunities but expect nothing more than working in an Indian restaurant for 100 CHF for 10 hours a day.