Applying for Swedish Citizenship

2016-12-06 12.52.09

Since I moved abroad, it was always in the back of mind that someday I would like to hold dual citizenship. As an American, it is allowed to hold dual citizenship with the USA and Sweden, because of this, earlier this year I applied for Swedish citizenship. As of today, I’m happy to report I now hold dual American and Swedish citizenship.

When looking into applying for Swedish citizenship I was first led to believe you must reside in Sweden for five years prior to ever applying. A further investigation revealed that dependent on your particular situation, the time prior to applying varies. In my case, I have lived with a Swedish citizen for three years (see the different Migrationsverket requirements here), so three years after receiving my first Swedish visa I submitted my application.

Prior to submitting my application I did a bit of reconnoissance work to see what I was up against. I knew of two American friends who had recently applied for their Swedish citizenship. Surprisingly their stories where extremely different. One friend had been here five years and fairly swiftly applied and was approved in only five months. The other friend applied after living in Sweden three years, nearly six months after applying this friend still had yet to hear any response, and indicated it was a wait time of up to 18 months.

In addition to speaking with friends, I logged into Migrationsverket and took a look at the actual Swedish citizenship application. Quite honestly I was surprised by the relative simplicity of the actual application. That being said, after applying for the initial visa and subsequently the permanent residence permit they already have a wealth of information on all applicants, so it sort of makes sense. The questions on the application are very straightforward, more or less, confirming your basic details like country of residence, address, existing citizenship, etc. The more detailed questions ask about work history in Sweden and how much money you’ve made at each particular job. The final question is simply an open text field where you have 1,000 characters to write something  to Migrationsverket. A few side notes—it is required to send your current passport via certified mail, along with the signed citizenship application. The 1,500 SEK (around $170 USD) application fee is fairly affordable compared to some other citizenship applications. To check out the application on Migrationsverket, click here.

A couple of things to point out when applying for Swedish citizenship. First, the entire application is in Swedish. While this really wasn’t an issue for me, it could be helpful to have a Swede (or Google translate) nearby when applying. It’s worth noting when I applied I answered the only “long” question in English. Second, after submitting the application do not forget to print out the application. There is a small button that says “SKRIV UT,” in my excitement of applying I completely missed this small button. As you must sign the application and send it in to the Migrationsverket office, if you don’t print it, you can’t sign it. Because I figured out I neglected to print after it was too late, I added an extra step to my application process, which required sending an email, including my case number, to  Migrationsverket to print and send me the completed form to sign (this email address utskrift@migrationsverket.se).

The Migrationsverket website helps manage expectations about application decisions, clearly indicating all non priority inquiries can from 12 to 18 months to process. Because of this, you can request your passport back at any time (this form). After waiting about a month for Migrationsverket to receive and register my application as received, I requested my passport back for some upcoming travel. After requesting the passport, I received it via certified mail two days later. Included with the passport was a form asking if I had traveled since applying for citizenship. I completed the form and sent it back immediately upon return from my trip abroad. During my time away I received another letter from Migrationsverket indicating I needed to send my passport back to them within 30 days so they could finish processing the application.

From submitting the citizenship application, to receiving notice I was approved, the process took 67 days. From applying for my first ever Swedish visa back in 2013, to receiving Swedish citizenship it took a total of 1,186 days (it was actually 39 months exactly Dec. 23, 2013-March 23, 2017). Below is a complete timeline of everything that happened with my citizenship application

  • January 15 – submitted application online
  • January 15 – neglected to export/ print, sent first email to Migrationsverket asking to send
  • January 24 – no documents emailed again asking to send
  • January 30 – received, and sent passport & citizenship documents to Migrationsverket
  • February 20 – requested passport back for upcoming trip
  • February 23 – received requested passport back for upcoming trip
  • March 1 – received notice from Migrationsverket requesting passport back within 30 days
  • March 13 – sent passport back to Migrationsverket
  • March 20 – a decision has been made by Migrationsverket
  • March 22 – online application updated to reflect “a decision has been made”
  • March 23 – received letter and certificate of citizenship from Migrationsverket

Bottom line about the Swedish citizenship process, while I think everyone has heard horror stories about wait times and queues, I cannot commend the work of Migrationsverket enough. Every interaction I have had has been very reasonable and timely. Well done.

Skål för Sverige!

-Karl