US embassy in Sweden issues advice on Trump travel ban

After Donald Trump's ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US caused widespread confusion, the US Embassy in Sweden has issued a statement offering advice to those affected by the executive order.

US embassy in Sweden issues advice on Trump travel ban
A New York rally protesting against the executive order. Photo: TT

Nationals of the seven countries affected by US President Donald Trump's travel ban have been advised not to schedule a visa appointment or pay visa fees for the time being, the US Embassy in Sweden said in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“Visa issuance to nationals of the countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been suspended effective immediately until further notification,” the embassy said.

It also warned citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries not to attend visa appointments if they had already scheduled them, saying anyone who tried to do so would “not be permitted entry to the Embassy/Consulate”.

The embassy will announce any changes affecting travellers to the United States “as soon as that information is available”, it added. Anyone concerned that they might be affected or seeking help with a visa application can contact the embassy's customer services department by phone or email.

The ban has caused confusion around the world, including in Sweden where thousands of dual-nationality holding citizens could be affected. The US Embassy's update does not explicitly comment on how the rules impact those with dual nationality in particular. The Local contacted the embassy for clarification of the matter.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said it had been difficult to get clear details from the US, telling broadcaster SVT on Sunday evening: “The latest, unconfirmed word is that Swedish-Iranians will not be allowed in [to the US].” The Foreign Ministry is due to meet with the US chargé d'affaires on Monday to discuss the issue.

Wallström also called the US ruling “regrettable” and said it would increase distrust and conflict, while the American-British husband of Sweden's Princess Madeleine labelled the executive order “shameful” and “ignorant”.

Around 90,000 people of Iranian background live in Sweden, of which 50-60,000 have dual citizenship. The Swedish-Iranian Association (Iranska riksförbundet) has asked Foreign Minister Wallström to emphasize to the US Embassy about how big a concern the ban is for many Swedish citizens.


For members


What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Many foreigners living in Sweden need to have a residence permit to live in the country legally. Permits are issued for two years at a time and can be renewed 30 days before expiry, at the earliest. But with waiting times exceeding 8 months for many applicants, just what are your rights while you wait to hear back?

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Can I keep working in Sweden?

It depends. If you have a residence permit which allows you to work in Sweden, have held that residence permit for at least six months and apply for an extension before your old permit expires, you still have the right to work in Sweden while you wait for the Migration Agency to make a decision on your permit application.

You can apply for a new residence permit 30 days before your old permit expires, at the earliest, and you can’t get a new residence permit before your old one has run out.

Can I leave Sweden?

Technically you can, but it might not be a good idea. This is due to the fact that if you leave Sweden after your residence permit has expired, it can be difficult to enter Sweden again before your new permit is granted, even if you can prove that you’ve applied for a new one.

In the worst-case scenario, you could be denied entry to Sweden at the border and forced to wait in another country until your new residence permit is granted. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can, in some cases, apply for a national visa allowing you to re-enter Sweden. These are only granted under exceptional circumstances, and must be applied for at a Swedish embassy or general consulate in the country you are staying in. If you are not granted a national visa to re-enter Sweden, you can’t appeal the decision, meaning you’ll have to wait until your residence permit is approved before you can re-enter Sweden.

The Migration Agency writes on its website that you should only leave Sweden while your application is being processed “in exceptional cases, and if you really have to”.

It lists some examples of exceptional cases as “sudden illness, death in the family or important work-related assignments”, adding that you may need to provide proof of your reason for travelling to the embassy when you apply for a national visa to re-enter Sweden.

What if I come from a visa-free country?

If you come from a visa-free country, you are able to re-enter Sweden without needing a visa, but you may run into issues anyway, as visa-free non-EU citizens entering Schengen are only allowed to stay in the bloc for 90 days in every 180 before a visa is required.

If you are a member of this group and you stay in Schengen for longer than 90 days without a visa, you could be labelled an “overstayer”, which can cause issues entering other countries, as well as applying for a visa or residence permit in the future.

The Migration Agency told The Local that “a visa-free person waiting for a decision in their extension application can leave Sweden and return, as long as they have visa-free days left to use”.

“However, an extension application usually requires the individual to be located in Sweden,” the Agency wrote. “Travelling abroad can, in some cases, have an effect on the decision whether to extend a residence permit or not, in a way which is negative for the applicant, but this decision is made on an individual case basis (it’s not possible to say a general rule).”

“The right to travel into the Schengen area for short visits is not affected, as long as the person still has visa-free days left.”

The Local has contacted the Migration Agency to clarify whether days spent in Sweden count towards the 90-day limit, and will update this article accordingly once we receive a response.

Does this apply to me if I have a permanent residence permit?

No. This only applies to people in Sweden holding temporary residence permits. If you have a permanent residence permit and your residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort or UT-kort) expires, you just need to book an appointment at the Migration Agency to have your picture and fingerprints taken for a new card.

How long is the processing time for residence permit renewals?

It varies. For people renewing a residence permit to live with someone in Sweden, for example, the Migration Agency states that 75 percent of recent cases received an answer within eight months.

For work permit extensions, it varies. In some branches, 75 percent of applicants received a response after 17 months, others only had to wait five.

This means that some people waiting to extend their residence permits could be discouraged from leaving Sweden for almost a year and a half, unless they are facing “exceptional circumstances”.

You can see how long it is likely to take in your case here.