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Expertise

Emigrating with Children – What You Need to Know

Worldwide, 07/03/2019 bySteven Sohn

Emigration – an adventure for the entire family: a major project, which can bring along many uncertainties and worries amid the anticipation. And if children are involved there are all sorts of extra questions. Is my child too young? Will they fit into the new school? How should I prepare my child for the move? This article provides you with assistance for challenges that frequently arise when emigrating with the family.

Preparation

Suitable, age-appropriate and early preparation of your child is key. Actively involve your child in the emigration process, take their concerns seriously and keep their expectations realistic. It may be especially helpful to take a holiday together in your destination country before you move. This gives your child the opportunity to form a first impression of the new environment (ideally, of the school as well). Alternately, you and your child can read books about your host country together and/or study photos of your new home. In any case, it is vital not to simply present your child with a fait accompli.

 

Education

Questions regarding the legal situation need to be clarified in the very beginning. How is the school system structured? Is it comparable with the Swiss system? Are kindergartens/schools mandatory?

Furthermore, in many countries the fundamental question arises of whether the child should visit a local or an international school. For local schools there is, in addition, the choice between private and public systems. The institution’s quality might be an important factor in selecting the new home.

Moreover, there is the issue of the recognition of qualifications and certificates. Many children of Swiss emigrants report difficulties in receiving access to tertiary education (e.g. university courses, apprenticeships, technical or business schools, etc.) or certain professions because their diplomas are not accepted as equivalent in Switzerland. This hurdle can be avoided by visiting an internationally recognised institution – in particular Swiss, French or German international schools abroad – as these issue officially recognised diplomas (sometimes even the Matura). The “International Baccalaureate” also receives wide recognition. However, depending on the country, certificates from normal public schools may also be recognised without problems – more information can be found at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI/SBFI) and the Swiss schools abroad educationsuisse network.

Do not underestimate financial factors in your decision-making. Private and international schools may demand very high tuition fees and scholarships are not available in every country. Regardless of your choice of school, it is strongly recommended to begin the registration process as soon as possible so as not to miss the mandatory registration deadlines.

If your child is already attending secondary school, they might need to repeat certain subjects or provide additional work. This can be stressful on top of the linguistic challenge and the usual difficulties of adjusting to a new environment. For teenagers, it should also be clarified at this stage what their plans are for the time after graduating from mandatory school. Would they prefer an apprenticeship or further study? Should they do this in Switzerland? If yes, what conditions need to be met?

Lastly, the school culture needs to be taken into consideration: school uniforms, a more or less authoritarian educational style with stricter or looser rules, the teaching of religious values, etc. are only some elements that may differ from one school to another. Which factors are important for you and your child and what would be a “no go”? It is worthwhile addressing these issues in advance to avoid any conflicts.

Picture: Jeffrey Hamilton @ unsplash.com

 

Childcare facilities

Regarding day-care centers, the situation varies from one country to another. While there can be long waiting lists in some places, others may in fact offer guaranteed childcare places. In any event, it is highly recommended to investigate well in advance and to plan sufficient time for this. For example, spend your holiday in the new country in order to get an impression of the private and government institutions and their quality. This might even give you the chance to save a spot in a childcare facility of your choice.

 

Health

Find out in advance which vaccinations your child needs to demonstrate having received before entry and which they may still need. Note that certain vaccines may be unavailable or extremely expensive in your new home country. Furthermore, the healthcare system in some states may not be comparable with that in Switzerland. In China, for instance, a vaccine scandal, destroyed parents’ trust in Chinese hospitals as it was made public that infants were given low quality and/or ineffective vaccines (including for rabies). If you have reservations regarding the healthcare system’s quality, you should make all necessary investigations while still in Switzerland.

If your child has allergies or (chronic) diseases and needs medications, you should find out in advance whether you can get these without problems in your new home, or how you can get them some other way – and how much this will cost. Keep all relevant documents up to date so that you can travel at any time and obtain treatment in Switzerland or another country. This is even more important if you live in a country which does not guarantee medical care.

 

Insurance and health insurance

Is health insurance mandatory for you in your new country of residence? If not, pay attemtopm tp the price-performance relationship when deciding on a local and/or international voluntary health insurance coverage. It is also worthwhile obtaining coverage from an international Swiss health insurer. Various Swiss health insurers offer international health insurance for emigrants. However, these health insurance solutions need not be concluded before you de-register from Switzerland. Be aware that it is not guaranteed that you will be accepted, as this will be decided on the basis of the health examination.

If you have any questions regarding insurers and health insurance, feel free to contact our advisers.

 

If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our team of professional advisers!

Picture: Jude Beck @ unsplash.com

 

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