When moving to Sweden, we had to apply for residency. This post is certainly not a “how-to” or anything official, it’s simply our experience.
It’s easier when you move to Sweden with a great job already lined up. It’s even easier when said job is with a big company, like Saab. It’s even easier when you already work for a big company, like Sikorsky. Big companies hire people to efficiently do the work for you and that is NICE. We also hoped that it would be easy for me to tag along, being his wifey.
(Yes, we did have an semi-impromptu courthouse wedding a couple of weeks after he was offered the job. Yes, we were already planning to get married. Yes, we had dated for 4 years, bought a dog and a house together, and yes I had pressured him to put a ring on it for a while. Thank you Sikorsky for making it happen. FYI, he says he’s very happy with married life and shows off his ring a lot. “Tungsten, y’all!”)
ANYWAY, we took our first opportunity to gather info about becoming residents on a beautiful, sunny Veteran’s Day. It made for a very nice afternoon in Georgetown, where the Swedish embassy is. We didn’t get any info that day, due to the Visa office being closed, but we did speak to a nice young Swedish woman who looks EXACTLY like my cousin. No denying the Swansons are Swedes.
After much research, here’s what I gathered regarding my residency application:
- Sikorsky would not be helping spouses out. We were on our own.
- I have to turn in an application, copy of my passport, and a bunch of money to the Embassy and they’d process it all.
- I can go to Sweden after I send my info in, but I can’t be in Sweden while the Migrationsverket makes a decision. There is no way to know when they will be making that decision, it could be in a week, or it could be in 8 months. Let the Embassy know if you travel, and good luck with your patience.
- EIGHT MONTHS? Wha?
OK, so there were some unknowns: Sikorsky was not confirming Matt’s job, and they didn’t yet have a plan to process the guys’ residency, so I didn’t have anything to plan around. About two months of waiting felt like an eternity, but we finally found out that the hired immigration company would accept my paperwork with Matt’s, and we could be processed TOGETHER! Huzzah! We just had to pay for it, but felt it was worth it. Living in limbo isn’t totally fun, especially when the man of your dreams is in the land of your dreams.
SO, since you cannot be IN Sweden while the Migrationsverket makes it decision, Matt was to go to Denmark for 2 weeks (as suggested by the company doing our residencies). Instead of costing Sikorsky an ungodly amount of money in hotel fees, rental car fees, and per diem, he booked some seriously cheap tickets back to Virginia where he would incur no costs. After just 2 days of being home, he got the scanned letter saying we were now, officially, approved for Swedish residency!
Daniel at Human Entrance, I love you.
Our first day in Sweden was President’s Day in the U.S. and for some reason, Matt had this day off (???). Instead of questioning it, we used it to go straight to the Migrationsverket office in Norrköping and get our biometrics cards. Had we sent our residency applications through the Swedish Embassy in D.C., we would have picked up our biometrics cards there. We were incredibly lucky to have lived so close to the Embassy (the only place in the US where you can get the needed biometrics card), but we didn’t need to take advantage of that.
The biometrics card basically tells airport customs that you are allowed to come and go from Sweden whenever you want. Without it, you can only stay in Sweden for 3 months, and need proof of a return ticket. It is an incredibly important step in living here like a normal person, though.
The Migrationsverket office is just like the DMV.
Lots of people who don’t speak English. People waiting around at a government-run office. Only, in Sweden, there are these Scandinavian-design chairs to sit in, and the people who work there want to help you and then DO help you. So, we took a ticket (very important part of Swedish life, get a ticket wherever you go), waited our turn, and had our pictures taken. FYI, know your height in centimeters – they don’t find it as funny as you do that you don’t know that. Oops. They say you’ll get your card in a few weeks but within a week both of our spankin’ new cards showed up! Now, this is not an ID card, so don’t use it like one. It does, however, help you get an ID card by allowing you to register for a personnummer – which is a Swedish-style SSN.
To get this personnummer, you take your fancy new biometrics card to the Skatteverket – the tax office. You show them your passport, your new biometrics card, and an official marriage license if you are hitched, like us.
Now, Virginia…. sigh, Virginia. Shake my head… didn’t give me an “official” marriage license. They gave me a shoddy copy with a raised seal that some clerk signs over (I think this is their version of “official”). The woman working with us was hesitant to accept our “certificate” but thankfully she did. She basically ran some copies of our stuff, gave us a form to fill out, then sent us on our way saying our numbers would arrive within 7 weeks. I though, “my, that seems like a long time…” and sure enough, exactly one week later (5 days ago), our numbers arrived in the mail!
With this personnummer, we can finally get me a cell phone (so I can snap pics incognito-like around town! and call Matt in case of emergency, of course), but the next step is to get an official ID and Swedish bank account so that we don’t have to carry our passports around and show them to verify every. single. purchase. More on that…when we get around to it 🙂