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Sweden fast-tracks citizenship applications from Brits as Brexit negotiations continue

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Sweden fast-tracks citizenship applications from Brits as Brexit negotiations continue
A citizenship ceremony at Stockholm's City Hall. File photo: Lars Pedersen / TT
11:14 CET+01:00
Citizenship applications from UK nationals are being prioritized by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket), a spokesperson confirmed to The Local.

"Brexit is an extraordinary situation and the Swedish Migration Agency is therefore prioritizing matters regarding British citizenship," Migrationsverket press officer Lisa Danling told The Local by email.

Danling said that the cases given top priority would be those from Brits where it was possible to conclude the case immediately; in other words, those where the applicant was clearly eligible for citizenship and had included all the necessary information and documents.

"Thereafter we look at cases that require a minor supplement, for example if a person has missed a signature or has not submitted the needed documentation in their application," said Danling. "Lastly, we look into cases that are more demanding, where the Swedish Migration Agency has to investigate further into whether an application meets the requirements for a Swedish citizenship or not."

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May debating Brexit in the House of Commons. Photo: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy via AP

Many Brits have been sharing their stories of citizenship acceptance online. Some members of one Facebook group said they had received Swedish citizenship as little as two weeks after applying, while others had finally had an answer after waiting as long as two years.

Asked whether the focus on UK nationals' applications would negatively affect cases involving people of other nationalities, Danling said Brexit was an "extraordinary situation" and that the agency currently had long processing times in all cases, but was doing its best to process cases as quickly as possible.

So what about those Brits who haven't lived in Sweden long enough to fulfill citizenship requirements (three years if living together with a Swedish partner, or otherwise five years)?

The Swedish government has guaranteed a one-year exemption from work and residence permit requirements for people in this category in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as The Local has previously reported.

This exemption is set to apply automatically, but British residents of Sweden who planned to travel overseas during the grace period have been advised to get a passport stamp to ensure they can prove their right of residence when returning to Sweden.

Migration agency representatives had previously said it would be possible to apply for this stamp via their website from March 22nd, with applications processed March 30th and a predicted a one-week turnaround. But after EU leaders granted the UK a short extension on Thursday evening, the Migration Agency clarified to The Local that applications for the stamp would only open if and when a no-deal Brexit was confirmed.

READ ALSO: Confused about Brexit? Here are 8 essential websites for Brits in Sweden

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the requirements for these Brits to stay in Sweden long-term remain unclear.

"The Swedish government has not yet made a decision about what will happen after [the one-year grace period]. If the government does not decide to make specific arrangements for Britons, then as a British citizen the general rule will be that you must obtain a residence and/or work permit in order to be allowed to reside and/or work in Sweden," said Danling. 

Under the withdrawal agreement previously agreed between the EU and the UK, Brits already living in Sweden, as well as those who move there before the end of a transition period on December 30th, 2020, would retain many of their current rights. This would include the right to study in Sweden without paying third country fees, the right to work without a work permit, and the right to healthcare subsidized at the same level as for native Swedes.

At the end of this transition period, Brits who had not stayed in Sweden long enough to be eligible for permanent residence would instead be eligible for a temporary residence permit to make up the time. For example, a Briton who had lived in Sweden for four years by the end of the transition period would be eligible for a one-year temporary permit, after which they could apply for permanent residence.'

GUIDE: How to get citizenship as a Brit in Sweden

 
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