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I am Indian and my husband is French. We are currently living in Haut-Rhin, France. But I have been having trouble finding jobs, mainly because of language but also lack of opportunities. And due to visa restrictions, I can't work in any other EU country.

We are considering moving permanently to Geneva, Switzerland. Initially my husband plans to keep working in France while living in Switzerland, while I search for jobs in Geneva. As soon as I get a job, he will also look for jobs in Switzerland.

Is this something which is legally allowed and what are our visa options? According to my understanding, as long as my husband is a resident in Switzerland, I can also get the resident permit? What possible hurdles could we face in such a scenario? We have some money saved up to cover the initial costs of moving and living there.

  • Before this is taken into consideration, the EU-Citizen must make sure that his earnings in France is sufficient to support himself and his spouse in Switzerland. An EU- Citizen, upon demand, that cannot prove this can be 'asked' to leave. When applying for a residence permit for the 3rd county Spouse of an EU-Citizen, this qualification will probably be checked. – Mark Johnson Mar 8 at 19:03
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    This might help your research ch.ch/en/family-reunification-eu-efta – Traveller Mar 8 at 21:01
  • Thanks Mark. How much would you say is enough? We were thinking that savings, according to the current expense rate in Geneva, for about 6 months in the bank account as liquid money should be sufficient? Otherwise, legally our plan is alright? – Nina Mar 9 at 13:01
  • Switzerland is restrictive regarding the permanent residency, surely more than most members of the European Union. You'll most likely get either a L visa (which is really bad) or a B if you have a stable permanent job. A mission (IT consultant) will most likely gives you a L visa (which means if you lose your job you have to leave the country quickly etc). As stated by Mark living costs are pretty high in Switzerland, especially in Geneva and Zurich, renting a decent flat for 2 people will cost 2000€ / CHF or even more. You'll have to pay an health insurance (at least 350/400€ /month/people) – stbr Mar 9 at 16:41
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    I would say that the strict minimum would be 6000€ monthly (that would be the real minimum and should be temporary). Honestly I am not sure it's the best move, Switzerland has a strict immigration policy and a very high living cost (actually much more than what is said on Mark's link). – stbr Mar 9 at 16:50
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The discussion so far confuses two things: how much money you need to sustain a given lifestyle in Switzerland and what's required legally.

Legally, your husband, as an EU citizen, could in principle continue to work in France and reside in Geneva as an economically non-active person (i.e. he is not residing on the basis of an economic activity in Switzerland, which means he falls under slightly different rules). You would in turn qualify for a spouse residence permit that does give you the right to work in Switzerland. The relevant threshold here is proving income above the level under which your family would qualify for welfare benefits. How this works in Switzerland is a bit complicated but basically, in 2020, it's CHF 1495 for a couple plus something like CHF 1200-1300 for accommodation so a total around €2600 per month. You would also need to prove you have health insurance (not sure if the French healthcare system would cover your husband in this situation).

Beyond that I agree with everybody that working in France and living in Switzerland is likely to be a horrible proposition financially and merely meeting the minimum threshold for residence is unlikely to fund a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, especially in Geneva.

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Before this is taken into consideration, the EU-Citizen must make sure that his earnings in France is sufficient to support himself and his spouse in Switzerland. An EU- Citizen, upon demand, that cannot prove this can be 'asked' to leave. When applying for a residence permit for the 3rd county Spouse of an EU-Citizen, this qualification will probably be checked.

How much would you say is enough?

Hard to say in general. Based in the Cost of Living Index 2020, where New York City ranks 100:

  • Geneva = 118,98 (Number 4)
  • Paris = 85.16 (Number 24)
  • Toulouse = 71,98 (Number 99), lowest listed for France.

Look at the other sites and I think you can see that living in Geneva with an average earning in France will be difficult.

Strasbourg is not contained in that list.


Sources:

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  • As a French and Swiss citizen who lived in both country, I'd take these stats carefully, a rent in Geneva costs most likely between 3 and 4 times the cost of one in an average french city (Strasbourg, Lyon etc). Food costs at least the double if not the triple and an health insurance is mendatory (at least Lamal), which would be 350-500 chf / person / month. – stbr Mar 9 at 16:43
  • @stbr In other words higher that these cost of living numbers estimates? A good source comparing Geneva to Strasbourg would be usefull, since that is near where the OP is. – Mark Johnson Mar 9 at 17:18
  • Way higher, to give you some numbers, I studied in Strasbourg, for a 50m² flat well located in the center I paid about 550€ monthly, while I pay 900 for a 45m² in Valais currently, knowing that housing in Valais is about 2 times cheaper than in Geneva I let you imagine. Last week for 5kg of potatoe I paid 2,5€ in France, in Switzerland I paid 4,5 chf (4,1€) for 2,5 kg, so about 4 times more. – stbr Mar 9 at 17:48
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    @Nina Why not study French intensively? I managed to get to B1 level Spanish from a zero start in less than 9 months, whilst working full-time. And you have the advantage of living in France. – Traveller Mar 11 at 18:51
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    All this is irrelevant, what matters are Swiss standards for welfare benefits (SKOS/CSIAS/COSAS). The same logic applies in EU countries when dealing with residence for non-economically active EU citizens. – Relaxed Sep 10 at 10:59

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