These slides from the November 2011 USLHC Users Meeting have some specific help you may request.
Some still-relevant visa information is explained in the 20 September 2010 CERN Bulletin.
You usually don’t need visas for stays less than three months with an American passport, but you will need an invitation letter to work at CERN. Please start the process one month in advance. Refer to the CERN Users’ Office pages. Check here for the French convention d’accueil (formerly known as the Protocole d’accueil”). Note, you need to sign at the bottom when you receive it.
Another note is that the convention d’accueil is needed for registering at the CERN Users’ Office, so people need to make sure they have a valid one with dates corresponding to their CERN contracts, and request renewals when the validity ends.
Find the relevant forms and send them to the Secretariat of your experiment at CERN to start the process of getting visas. Start the process 1-3 months in advance; you always need both since you may end up living in one or the other place. To look up e-mails and other phone numbers, see the CERN Phone Book.
ATLAS: Connie Potter +41 22 767 4279
CMS: Yasemin Uzunefe-Yazgan +41 22 767 4799
ALICE: Michelle Connor +41 22 767 6138
LHCb: Nathalie Grub +41 22 767 9278
For the French visa, the French consulate mails you a letter after receiving the invitation letter with the requirements for obtaining the French visa. There is about a month’s lag time between CERN mailing the invitation letter and the applicant receiving the letter from the consulate. Also, appointments at the French consulate must be made about one month in advance, but the timing is tricky, because you ideally want the appointment as soon as possible after receiving the letter.
Here are some further notes regarding the procedure for the French long term visa, from the CMS secretariat, who assist many visitors with their paperwork: We encourage people to make an appointment with the French consulate as soon as they’ve requested the Note Verbale from us. When they go to their appointments, they need to mention that CERN has sent a Note Verbale on their behalf. The relevant consulate gets a copy of the Note Verbale we draft, but they have to wait for the complete application before the ministry can make a decision and let them issue the visa. So if people wait for an OK before they’ve submitted a visa application, they will only lose time. Also, we suggest that anyone who hasn’t heard back from the consulate a few weeks after their appointment should contact us and let us know, so that CERN can intervene if there’s a delay or a misunderstanding.
Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Area. Please share information and experiences with colleagues and by using the “Contact” function on this site. Here is info about travel to Schengen countries.
Some advice from December 2011: If you go to the consulate (in this case in New York) for a personal meeting, bring all your material and a mailing envelope (UPS or FedEx overnight). This allows you to get your visa back with a couple days. Do not forget to make a copy of your passport first. Check consulate hours — for New York, “visiting hours 8:30-12:00” mean the hours their visa window is open. And they do close for lunch from noon to 2pm as of this writing.
Required forms for both French and Swiss visas from the Users Office are here.
For Switzerland: Fill in the form for EACH member of the family. Also contact the Swiss consulate by phone to ask for the requirements for the scientist/CERN visa. These requirements are different from any listed on the website, and there is no other way to determine them.
For France: Fill in the form requested for the “Note Verbale” for EACH member of the family.
Green Card Holders
Information for US Green Card holders (permanent residents) who are relocating abroad for an extended period for certain types of work (scientific work qualifies) and wish to maintain their naturalization status. This is tricky – they need to file a form N-470 before they depart, otherwise the naturalization clock starts from zero (but bizarrely, it starts from the time of their *departure* from the US, not their re-entry). Here is a relevant INS page: