Having surgery afforded me big blocks of time to rest, relax, and read. I also had time to get some tasks that had been on my to do list but just never bubbled up to the top of the priority list. One such thing for Doug and me has been applying for Swedish citizenship. Several years ago, Sweden changed its laws to allow US Citizens to have dual citizenship. We always knew this was something we wanted to do because as citizens of any European Union country, we can live and work there without the need for a visa. And being Swedish citizens opens up new and different travel opportunities to places Americans aren't really welcome. Read: Cuba. And, sometimes the entry visa for other countries is more easily obtained by a Swedish citizen or is cheaper to purchase. Additionally, traveling in and out of our country of resident is often much easier for Swedish nationals. All in all, we felt it was a great move in order to open more doors for great movement around the world. Doug and I know that traveling in general and Europe in specific will always remain a part of our lives so why not secure that possibility by becoming citizens of a European nation.
The process was fairly straight forward. Fill out paper work online that included a record of our work history, tax paying history, and general standing while living in Sweden. You must have had your permanent resident and work permits for at least 5 years in order to qualify. Then we had to send in scanned copies of our passports and current visas to live and work in Sweden. Then we also had to send in our actual US passports so that they could verify our standing. And of course, pay a fee.
Now, it is always a little nerve-wracking to send your one and only passport somewhere else. I had been quite hesitant to give up my passport in recent months due to my mom's failing health. Now seemed like a good time to do this given that our travel over the summer was limited to EU nations and the likelihood of needing our passports was reduced.
I was surprised by how quickly the process went. I guess having all of the right papers along with the proper timeline of qualification really helped us out. Within a month we had evidence of being Swedish citizens. The next step was to take those papers to the police station where they photographed and finger printed us. Within a week, we received a text saying that the passports were ready and violá. We were dual citizens.
I am humbled by the privilege that this affords me. We agonize with people who are trying desperately to gain permission to live and work in another country than their own. Permission to live and work somewhere is a huge privilege and I do not take it lightly.
Today, we leave for a holiday in Sicily, Italy. We will travel for the first time as Swedish citizens. Kind of exciting!