Guess Who Got Her Swiss Long-Stay Visa?

by Gigi Griffis

Well, friends, I finally did it.

After all the paperwork, the polite follow-up calls, the nervous evenings, and the heaviness of waiting, I finally got my Swiss long-stay visa.

When I wake up this morning and look out over the snow-dusted valley, when I step outside in the brisk air to walk Luna, when I head to the pub for a glass of wine at the end of the day, I do it all with the knowledge that I live here.

I officially live in my favorite place in the world. A place where I’ve been told over and over and over again how impossibly hard it is to get a visa. A place where I don’t know any other Americans. A place that most people wouldn’t even try to get a visa for.

And yet, I live here.

Which just goes to show you how you should always try, even if everyone thinks your chances are slim to none.

The only way to know what your chances are is to put yourself out there. To chance failure. Hell, not just chance it: stare it in its pretty little face and stick out your tongue. Because failure is just a ghost of a thing anyway. It’s not as scary as it seems.

And so my life shifts, as life so often does, from something challenging to something celebratory. Because two days ago, my injured shoulder felt so good that I threw myself a spontaneous dance party. And yesterday I moved into a quiet, top-floor guesthouse room with a view of the snowy valley, where the mornings are utterly silent. And most of all because I really, truly live here, a resident of the valley that inspired Rivendell.

I think I’ll go out and hug the trees.

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Maria February 13, 2014 - 6:34 am

Pictures, I need pictures. You know I am living vicariously through you at the moment and I am about to have surgery which will leave me housebound for 6 weeks. And though I have a beautiful view out my back sliding glass door at the moment it is a view of a blizzard.
How long is a long term visa? Congratulations!

gigigriffis February 13, 2014 - 6:48 am

Oh, goodness! I’ll have to take some more photos once we get a sunny day again.

The visa is for a year, but is retroactive (so the year started in December). If I still need to work on the book come December 2014, I can apply to extend it. :)

Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels February 13, 2014 - 8:31 am

Yay! Congratulations on getting your visa. I can imagine it must feel good to have that weight off your shoulders.

gigigriffis February 13, 2014 - 12:25 pm

For sure!

RHC February 13, 2014 - 8:39 am

I am so happy for you! I have been reading your journey only for a little while but I am always happy to see updates in my inbox. You are an inspiration both for what you go out and try for and also for what you don’t let stop you (I really resonated with your post on depression). Congratulations!!!

gigigriffis February 13, 2014 - 12:27 pm

Thank you!

Rebecca February 13, 2014 - 10:05 am

Congratulations! That is great news! You made it especially since I heard on the news last night that they just passed a referendum to block foreigners from entering their country. Mainly the reasoning is because the US and I believe Australia blocks or prohibits.

gigigriffis February 13, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Yeah. I think the referendum will take a while to take affect, but will be interested to see how it impacts future expats (my understanding is that it will just be stricter quotas, not cut off immigration completely, which would be economic suicide).

lee February 13, 2014 - 12:17 pm

Congrats! job well done

how did you find ‘the place’…..? What was the process? Chance, read something, heard something?

i look forward to your future posts. i find staying place in a wonderful location inspires writing…..instead of constantly wishing i were somewhere else… interested in seeing if it changes you.

gigigriffis February 13, 2014 - 12:34 pm

I came to the valley for the first time in 2008 with my best friend. I had stumbled upon it in a guidebook (which mentioned the 72 waterfalls and I was immediately smitten) when I was planning my half of our two-week trip through northern Italy and parts of Switzerland.

When we arrived, I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. But I was still more compelled to visit new places than to revisit old ones, so I didn’t make it back until 2012, when I first started traveling full-time. I asked myself where I wanted to go for vacation that summer and my heart’s answer was Lauterbrunnen. So I came back and fell in love all over again.

Then, when it came time to choose a place for my vacation in 2013, it came up again for me. And after that month, I knew I wanted to live here.

Kathryn February 13, 2014 - 5:43 pm

Congratulations Gigi, you must feel higher than the Swiss mountains themselves!

This is such exciting news and I’m so happy for you.

gigigriffis February 14, 2014 - 2:53 am


Ann February 14, 2014 - 8:01 am

Congrats! That is terrific news. I was just thinking of your quest to get a visa there when a news program came on about how the Swiss are starting to want to close rank on outsiders. Good for you for staring the “improbable” in the face and coming out the victor. And thanks so much for your continuing articles about how you achieve the life you live.

gigigriffis February 14, 2014 - 8:06 am

Thank you! It is interesting timing, isn’t it? I actually picked up my permit on the day when the voting results came out. It was a little surreal.

Ursula February 16, 2014 - 10:16 am

Dear Gigi
A very warm welcome to Switzerland!

gigigriffis February 16, 2014 - 10:17 am

Thank you!

Ursula February 16, 2014 - 10:45 am

Uuups, some of my text was missing, sorry about that!
I’m following your blog quite some time and I’m so glad that it worked with your visa!
Hope you’ll enjoy Switzerland and all its beautiful places – lovely greetings from Bern, ursula

gigigriffis February 17, 2014 - 2:11 am

Thank you! I’m so happy to be here. Your country is my favorite place in the world.

Ali February 18, 2014 - 8:14 am

Yippee! Congrats, I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to come visit, or for you and Luna to come visit us again. Or halfway for a fun day again :-)

Libby Walkup February 23, 2014 - 5:12 pm

Have I said congrats? Congrats. It sounds so lovely there. Before you leave I hope to stop by for a visit. :)

gigigriffis February 24, 2014 - 7:58 am

Thanks! Do let me know if you plan a jaunt through Europe.

kellye August 20, 2015 - 8:20 pm

Great Article. Thanks for the info. Does anyone know where I can find a blank French Republic Long Stay Visa?

gigigriffis August 20, 2015 - 11:29 pm

I’d start by contacting the French embassy.


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