Last night, Husband and I went out for a rare dinner together, just to a restaurant down the road, but a lovely evening out. And I committed a faux pas here in Sweden. I got all excited about a minor celebrity* who was standing in the doorway, deciding whether to come into the restaurant. Yes, I nudged Husband and tried surreptitiously to indicate to him who was there. But I’m afraid that all of that will have to change soon, because I have applied for Swedish citizenship. And acknowledging celebrities is just not the done thing in Sweden.
As of December last year, I’ve been living here in Sweden for five years, and so I decided to start the process to apply for citizenship as it gives me the right to vote in general elections here (rather than just local and EU elections) and also means I will have the same dual nationality as the boys. And then the talk in the UK of a potential referendum on Europe spurred me on actually to do something about it.
So I checked out the citizenship pages of Migrationsverket, the Swedish immigration authority. According to the website, to apply for citizenship as a citizen of an EU country you need to have been registered (folkbokföring) and have resided in Sweden for five years, have no criminal record, are over the age of 18 and be able to prove your identity (with a passport etc). As I qualify on all counts, my next step was to apply for permanent uppehållsrätt (permanent right to reside) in Sweden. The form for this was pretty straightforward and then I just had to send off some paperwork with it (a copy of my passport identification page, proof from Skatteverket, the tax authority, that I have lived and been registered here for five years, a confirmation from my employer (arbetsgivaresintyg), as my right to reside here is employment-based, and five years of tax confirmations from Skatteverket). Once you have been granted the permanent right to reside (or PUR), then you can apply for citizenship online. (I love this about Sweden!) After that, all you then need to do is send them your passport for a short while and that’s it: citizenship.
I duly did this and naively expected to hear a confirmation from them within a couple of weeks – after all, I am an EU citizen so it should all just be a formality, shouldn’t it? After a month, I gave them a call and discovered that the process can take as long as six months (and on the website it says that it is currently taking as long as 11 months).
What I also discovered was that there are two routes to citizenship: the way I have done it, applying for PUR first and sending in all the paperwork and then applying online; or applying online for citizenship and applying for PUR at the same time. The second method means that once you’ve applied online, you then need to send in all the paperwork. According to the woman I spoke to at Migrationsverket, the process is two sides of a square and takes pretty much the same time, whichever route you take.
So there you go: by 2014, I should have Swedish citizenship and will no longer be allowed to get all excited by the sight of celebrities mingling among us or to take bad iPhone photos of Sven Göran Eriksson.
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* It was Anders Bagge, one of the Idol judges, in case you’re interested…