Moving as EFTA Citizens with US Business/US Based Income

I've read posts about EFTA citizens moving to Switzerland on this forum, but I still have some questions on what exactly I'd need to do in my complex situation to make the move happen. As background, I'm an EFTA citizen who owns two companies located in the US. I own one of those businesses 100%, but that business only makes around 20,000 CHF/year. In the other US based business, I'm one of several partners and my share of income from that business is around 100,000 CHF. My wife, also an EFTA citizen, works remotely for a US based business and makes around 60,000 CHF from it.

I looked through various cantonal websites about this and my understanding is that when I get to Switzerland, I would need to register my business in Switzerland to be able to reside there. What I'm wondering about is if it suffices for me to register my smaller 20,000 CHF/year business or do I need to register the larger one to meet some possible income-based residing requirements? The issue with this is that I can't independently register the larger business, so I would have to create a workaround such as having a Swiss company that owns my share of the larger business, therefore allowing the income to flow from that US business through a Swiss entity. One of my connections in Switzerland claimed that I don't even need to register a company at all in Switzerland, all I need to do is to register myself as an entrepreneur and continue filing my US based companies in the US and then file for my taxable income both in the US and in Switzerland. If anyone can provide me with any clarity with this question, I would highly appreciate it.

The second issue relates to my wife's work. Since I would be the "sponsor" of us two, my understanding is that my wife could continue working remotely for her US based entity if she wants but would have to file for her taxes both in the US and in Switzerland. However, I've also been told that if a US company wants to have an employee in Switzerland that company itself needs to create a Swiss entity and after that provide her pay and benefits through it, rather than continuing to pay her through the US business. In the long run, my wife hopes to quit her current remote job in the US and find a non-remote job in Switzerland. My understanding is that she could do so whenever we're there, since she already has an EFTA citizenship, she would automatically get her work permit when she finds a job in Switzerland. Is my understanding accurate?

Finally, I would like to ask a bit about getting smaller jobs/summer jobs for my oldest two teenage children. Both would very much like to work when we move to Switzerland and my understanding is that there's nothing preventing this, since they too have EFTA citizenships. My younger teenager would like to start her own business, and I think this is possible if I sign some documents on her behalf as her parent. I would appreciate any guidance on this matter as well.

I can’t help on the business side of things, but suggest you contact UBS, PostFinance or Migros bank to see if they’d even take you on as customers. Since the US brought in its FATCA law cantonal banks will not have anything to do with people with any connection to the US so those are the only possible banks that might let you have an account here - which would probably just be a basic salary/checking account, nothing more.

Changing/getting jobs as ETFA nationals isn’t a problem.

Yes, we're currently living in an EU country and because both of us are also US citizens, we could only find one major bank that would offer us their entire service fleet, a few banks that would allow us to open checking accounts with them, but most banks simply declined to have us as their customers. It wasn't only FATCA that caused us some problems, but also the US regulations around KYC and FBAR that limited what most banks were willing to provide us. I've heard that UBS will probably let us open an account in Switzerland, but I haven't personally checked on it. The most important step is to be able to move there and then we can figure out what to do regarding banking. I'm okay even if we can't find a single Swiss bank willing to do business with us as I'm aware of some US banks that already do business in Switzerland that I can rely upon.

You have some fundamental misunderstandings here - EFTA is a trading organisation, it confers not citizenship rights. Registering a business in Switzerland does not grant you any entitlement to resident permits, particularly as the businesses you have described are not grounded in the local economy. You need to seek proper professional advice on this one.

Sorry, both me and my wife have citizenships in an EU country, I meant to write, as well as in the US (I tend to leave the US citizenship out, as it only causes confusion).

I discussed our situation with the Swiss Embassy around 2 years ago and they said that Switzerland would definitely be interested in having us as their residents, but recommended us to contact the canton in which we would want to reside in.

I've contacted one relocation expert in Switzerland as well as one cantonal office, and neither of them ever replied to my questions (which I wrote in German). It's possible that my German isn't good enough, I can't explain my situation clearly or the matter is so complex that they're not interested in helping me

The fundamental problem we have is that all our income is essentially US based, and while that has not been a problem in the EU country we currently reside in, it may be a problem in Switzerland. My partnership would like me to reside in Europe, and Switzerland would be a great location, as we have clients in France, Germany and Italy, although all the billing is handled through the US entity.

Switzerland is neither in the EU nor a member of the EEA agreement. Your entitlement to establish a business in Switzerland and receive a permit comes from the bilateral agreement between the EU and Switzerland and those rules are slightly different to the EU’s ones when it comes to the right to establish a business - the business must be able to justify the need to have you present in Switzerland. If your business is not grounded in the Swiss economy that is going to be hard to do. Get proper professional advice.

But as EU citizens you have the right to live here if you can afford to support yourself, no? So if you can show wealth and income, there should be no reason to move or register the business and make things complicated. Take a sports person for example, they live in Switzerland based in their income earned elsewhere.