An Iranian citizen has recently joined my team, and he needs to attend company orientation in either the United States or Switzerland. All things being equal, when applying from Sydney, Australia, which would be the easier and/or faster option?

For avoidance of doubt, I'm pretty sure his visa will be approved in the end since he's quite low risk (Australian permanent resident, solid job at very well known company, all expenses paid etc.), I'm just hoping to minimize the time, expense and hassle involved.

Update: We opted for Switzerland. Literally one day after he joined the company, Trump signed the second executive order banning Iranians for 90 days!

Update 2: The Swiss consulate said processing would take 10 days, the visa was approved in 9. The hardest part of the process was fedexing a signed hard copy of the invitation from Switzerland.

  • 19
    I'm confused. You're an experienced traveller; you surely know that there are currently huge issues with Iranians visiting the US. Why are you even asking this? Feb 21, 2017 at 11:17
  • 4
    @davidricherby The comments found below make clear that the visa ban is currently not in effect. While unlikely, it is possible that the US application process is currently faster than the Swiss one - the question seems valid. Feb 21, 2017 at 15:07
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    @Toivo With the current US administration that doesn't mean anything. Trump might wake up on the wrong side of the bed again and issue another executive order which would wreak god knows what havoc. Even if it gets overturned, that amount of uncertainty makes the whole thing a non-starter even if it were marginally faster.
    – Voo
    Feb 21, 2017 at 15:30
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby In practice I concur with the sentiment - the problem I have in theory is that this assumes that the Swiss application is a (comparatively) straightforward process, which may or may not be the case. Feb 21, 2017 at 15:41
  • 4
    @ToivoSäwén such a new executive order has been planned and is in the works, according to the administration. Planning travel to the US is very risky these days; the ability of an Iranian to enter the country is very fragile and cannot be counted on at any specific point in the near future. Any plans to travel to Switzerland, however burdensome the bureaucracy, will be far more stable.
    – phoog
    Feb 21, 2017 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


Switzerland hands down.

The US is extremely strict in demanding substantial proof of ties to the country of the applicant's residence. Each time they take in an applicant for an interview, their mindset is: "alright, this guy is trying to become an illegal immigrant, unless he convinces me otherwise".

Furthermore, as a Middle Easterner your application is likely (though possibly somewhat less if an Australian PR) to be taken for the dreaded "administrative processing". From then on it could well be months or even a year before you finally get a decision.

Schengen visas, on the other hand, are relatively straightforward: provided you present a credible bona fide itinerary, along with adequate funds for your stay, you will usually get it without much hassle.

So I'd go with Switzerland, definitely

  • 1
    I would also add that the US currently doesn't issue visas for Iranians: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 21, 2017 at 11:06
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    @JonathanReez The ban is not in force atm
    – Crazydre
    Feb 21, 2017 at 11:10
  • As far as I understand people with existing visas can go, but new visas are not issued.
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 21, 2017 at 11:11
  • 2
    @JonathanReez New visas are being issued for time being: travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/news.html (read to the end) Feb 21, 2017 at 11:40
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    @JonathanReez the ban is not in force at all pending a court challenge. But the administration has promised to issue a new order this week, so planning travel to the US is definitely ill advised for nationals of Iran and the other six affected countries.
    – phoog
    Feb 21, 2017 at 13:11

Belated answer to my own question:

As Crazydre correctly states, Switzerland is almost certainly the easier option and that's what we went with.

However, he ended up applying for a US visa for a second trip, and long story short, while it took about two months to process and requires a bit of paperwork (translations of exemption from military service etc), he received the US visa on the first attempt and there were no notable complications along the way. So it's by no means impossible for Iranians to visit the US.

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