So, as one would expect, I did a lot of research in the months/weeks/days leading up to my applying for a visa to live and work in Sweden. A friend of mine directed me to this blog, which I found particularly helpful as it pretty much mirrored my situation perfectly. Having insight into a real life experience so similar to what I was about to undertake was much appreciated, and so I wanted to pay it forward a bit by just giving a brief play-by-play of my experience in the hopes that someone will find it useful:
- First and foremost, get to know the Migrationsverket website as intimately as possible. You will use this site to determine what kind of visa you need to apply for. Once you know this, it is strongly recommended that you apply using the online method for the fastest turnaround time. One thing I did in order to be better prepared was to download all the forms that are required for the application process as if you’re doing it by mail. The forms will give you a really good idea of what to expect from the online application. I actually filled all the forms out electronically and saved them so that when time came for the actual application, I could just copy and paste my answers into the online form. Keep in mind, however, that the mail-in forms and the online application are not identical, so make sure you pay close attention.
- It’s also advisable to visit your local Swedish Embassy’s website as it will provide more information. I was able to contact the local consulate via email and telephone and ask specific questions. There’s also an FAQ on the Migrationsverket site.
- Basically, be as prepared as you possibly can be before you sit down to apply for your visa. You will need time to gather all the necessary documents (depending on which visa you apply for). The rest of this will follow the process that I experienced while applying for a co-habitation visa (sometimes called a Sambo visa).
- I filled out my online application on the 4th of November. You have to register as a user on the Migrationsverket site prior to filling out the application, but that process took only about 2 minutes. Because I had filled out the forms ahead of time, the application process didn’t take very long. You are expected to provide details about yourself, your family, your Sambo, your Sambo’s family, how you met, when/where you’ve met, and your plans for the future, etc. It can take a long time to fill out if you haven’t prepared ahead of time.
- Once the application was filled out, I was asked to provide my documents. For me, I was only asked to provide a scan of my passport and a scan of my single-status document (that shows I am not married… the local consulate assisted me with getting that). I was not asked at this time for any other documents.
- After uploading my docs, I was asked to submit payment for my application fee. It worked out to about $230 USD. As soon as my payment went through, I got an email confirming that fact.
- Immediately after that, I received a copy of the email that Migrationsverket sent to my Sambo. It basically informs her that she needs to go to the website and fill out her half of the application. She waited a week before she did this because she thought she would need all kinds of documents. But, basically, she had to answer the same exact questions that I did, and was only asked to provide a scan of her personbevis and a scan of her ID card. She submitted this on November 11th.
- Less than 24 hours after she submitted her part of the application, I received an email requesting that I supply three to four pictures of the two of us together at different locations. One thing to note here: you are only allowed to upload ONE file, so you will need one JPG or PDF that contains all of the pictures you are going to provide. I was also able to provide a description of each picture (ie: where and when it was taken).
- A few minutes after I received the email requesting the pictures, I received another email informing me that I needed to set up an interview with my local Swedish Consulate. I contacted my local consular on the 12th and set up an interview for that Friday, the 15th. I was told to bring any and all documents that I had uploaded to Migrationsverket prior.
- I met with the consular at 2pm on Friday. We had spoken on the phone before and he remembered my case, so it was nice to have even a slight level of familiarity. He basically asked me the same exact questions I had been asked on my application and typed everything out as I spoke. He then made copies of all of my documents (ie: passport, single-status doc, and pictures). He informed me that he would send everything to Migrationsverket that same day. He advised me that it could take months before I hear anything and that I would eventually get an email informing me that a decision has been made, and that I would then need to contact the Embassy in D.C. to find out what that decision is. Being so late in the day on a Friday, I knew that they wouldn’t even see the documents until Monday morning.
- The next week, on what would have been about 9am on Tuesday the 19th in Sweden, I received an email saying that a decision had been made. Because the Embassy in D.C. is closed on Tuesdays, I had to wait until Wednesday to contact them. I called, gave them my name and dossier number and was told that I had been approved. I then received an email containing my approval letter.
- Since US citizens don’t require a visa to enter Sweden, I can wait until then to go to Migrationsverket and have my photo and prints taken for my ID card. I asked the consular here in Seattle if I could do that locally, but he said the embassy in D.C. was the only location that provided that service. If I lived close enough, I would have gone there to get a jump on things, but since I don’t, I decided I would wait until I get to Stockholm to do that.
So that’s it so far. Amazingly, despite the ten month waiting period posted on the Migrationsverket website, it took only two weeks from the day I applied to get my approval, and one week of that was due to my Sambo waiting for documents that she didn’t even need (better to be prepared though). The next step is to take care of the many loose ends here in Seattle and get myself moved! I’ll provide more info on the process after I get over there! Hope this was useful to someone!