Americans are able to enter Sweden with just a passport. To stay for more than 90 days however, a Residency Permit Card is needed. The process for obtaining this document begins with an online application through the Migrationsverket (Swedish Migration Board) website. Well, for me it began with acquiring an expedited passport in order to use that online application. And then the waiting commences. Happily for me, my wait ended with my Permit Card arriving in last week’s mail.
The wait though was quite nerve-racking. Having never been through this process before I had visions of getting to the airport and not being allowed to board the plane to Stockholm. Or of the Swedish equivalent of the U.S.C.I.S. showing up during one of my classes and dragging me to the nearest airport. As I relax into the knowledge of my “legalness” in my host country, I’m reminded of the immigration issues in my home country. I understand the need for process and procedure and I would not advocate anyone breaking the laws of any sovereign nation, but I think I have a better understanding of what it is to arrive in an unfamiliar place unable to speak, read, or write the native language. And the uneasiness of wondering if every paper has been correctly completed, accepted, or even received. Not to mention the concern of possibly being detained or deported. It is a slight shift in perspective that I will take with me when I return home.
(The title for this week’s post is borrowed from a song by Sting, Englishman In New York.)