*deep exhale* Wow, this is not a fun post to write, but nonetheless, it’s important. Jonas spoke with MigrationSverket (the Swedish immigration office) today, and we got some news. Before I get to that, here is an overview of the process so far.
- I fill out the online Residence Permit application. This includes information about my family, Jonas’ family, how we met, when we met, what languages we speak together, how often we see each other, where and when we see each other, both of our educational and work backgrounds, etc.
- I upload passport information and a certificate demonstrating that I’m not married in the state of Indiana.
- A few days after I submit my application, Jonas has to fill out the same application so they can compare our answers.
- I go to Sweden after I’ve submitted my application to study Swedish on my 90 day tourist visa.
- Per tourist visa rules, I leave Sweden at the beginning of October, and come back to the US.
- I receive two emails from MigrationSverket at the beginning of the month: we need to submit additional information, and it is time for my interview.
- For additional information, I submit 6 pictures of us together and copies of flight tickets and hotels we’ve booked together.
- I have my hour-long interview a week later in the Swedish consulate in Chicago. I bring 30 pages of tickets, receipts, social media posts, leases, work contracts, and 10 additional pictures. At this point, the woman at the embassy said it was currently trending 6 months from interview to decision time.
- Jonas calls MigrationSverket for an update, and they tell him that we have a case worker! She seems very positive about our application, but since we have to wait in a long line, she estimates that it’ll be 6 months from that date until a decision.
- Jonas comes for 3 weeks during the holidays, the first time we’d seen each other in almost 2.5 months.
Today, Jonas called our case worker because I will be in Sweden in 10 days on another 90 day tourist visa, and the immigration office needs to know. Currently, she said, they are still working on applications filed on November 2015, a full 8 months before I filed mine. Therefore, it is unlikely that I will receive my visa before the end of the summer.
Obviously, I was crushed when he told me, and may or may not have bawled my eyes out. This process is disheartening. At this point, we are at the complete mercy of the Swedish government and whatever they decide. However, I am a lucky one in this process, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Many of the immigrants I’m in line with have no formal education, can’t visit their loved ones in Sweden during the process, wait at least twice as long for a permit, don’t speak Swedish, will have trouble finding work, and have families to support.
Past April (when I get back to the US), we don’t know what to expect or what to do, but we’ll figure it out. What we do know is that there are people who are coming to Sweden (and the United States!) who need your support and thoughts much more than we do. I’ve included links to great charities below; if anything good can come out of this frustrating process, let it be that someone else’s experience became a little bit smoother.
National Immigration Law Center [English only]
National Immigration Forum [English only]
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights [English only]
InvitationsDepartementet [Swedish only]
Vi Gor Vad vi Kan/ We Do What We Can [Swedish and English]
Rädda Barnen/ Save The Children [Swedish; click Translate to switch to English]
Kompis Sverige [Swedish only]