My wife is an EU Citizen (Irish) and has been given a job in Sweden. I'm South African and have been told that I should apply for a residence card and that the process will take around 15 months.

If I've understood the Migrationsverket Website correctly, I'm entitled through EU right of residence (as a spouse) to live and work in Sweden while waiting for my application to be processed. While waiting I should enter Sweden using a Schengen visa, which will expire shortly after I arrive, and present myself for photographs and fingerprints as soon as possible once in Sweden.

Once I have completed this process, and I'm waiting 15 months for the application to be processed, how will I show my status as a legal resident of Sweden when traveling or applying for work?

Some examples:

  1. As my Swedish visa will have expired, will I be able to leave Sweden to travel to South Africa and visit my family, or will they stop me at the border as it appears I have been living illegally past the terms of my visa?

  2. If they don't stop me, will I be able to re-enter Sweden as my visa is both expired and the terms were infringed by staying past the term?

  3. Will I be able to travel through the EU as a tourist while waiting for my application to be processed?

  4. How do I apply for work, open bank accounts etc, and prove that I'm legally allowed to live and work in Sweden?

Thank you for reading this, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • As nobody else seem to answer: I would guess they will give you a receipt for the application, which you can use in Sweden/EU. Entering the EU from outside through a country other than Sweden might be time consuming.
    – Tomas By
    Jan 21, 2018 at 11:43
  • 1
    @TomasBy And no foreign check-in staff outside Schengen will board OP, as the receipt isn't listed as a visa exemption in Timatic
    – Crazydre
    Jan 21, 2018 at 11:53
  • Thank you for the responses. I've read that a sticker used to be applied to your passport while your application was being processed but they have apparently stopped doing this. I sent a message to the embassy in South Africa a few days abo but they have yet to reply. I'll answer this question if I hear anything conclusive from them.
    – Ryan Nel
    Jan 21, 2018 at 14:53
  • If it is allowed here, I'd redirect you to thelocal.se forum dedicate to Swedish visa questions - lots of people in your situation out there. Jan 21, 2018 at 19:31
  • Who told you that the process would take 15 months? Another thing to consider: if you leave Sweden, you can always apply for another free visa to rejoin your spouse. Some countries would require a new residence card application, though, so be careful (I don't know about Sweden). Finally, this is probably better for Expatriates; if you flag for moderators' attention, they can migrate it.
    – phoog
    Jan 21, 2018 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


I have been in this exact situation, I am an EU national living in Sweden with my non-EU wife.

Some things to consider.

  1. You can leave Sweden, and if you need to go back the best way to do it is to apply for a new visa from a Swedish embassy or consulate. Show them your slip from the Migration Agency that you are waiting for a residence card, and they should issue you a new visa. Even being a family member of an EU national living in Sweden is enough to get a new visa. It might be better to talk to them about this visa before leaving Sweden, though.

  2. The official EU deadline for issuing your residence card is 6 months, not 18 months. 18 months sounds more like the Migration Agency processing time for normal family reunification per the Swedish system. Someone at the Migration Agency might have been misinformed. The Swedish Migration Agency may take longer than 6 months due to heavy workload, but that means they are breaking EU law.

  3. Contrary to what the other answer says, you do not need to wait for the residence card to be issued before you have rights in Sweden. Since your wife works in Sweden, you can both go directly to the Swedish Tax Agency after having applied for a residence card. Showing the receipt of your application, you can register as a resident of Sweden. Within a few weeks you will be given a personal number. This allows you to get a bank account, phone number, use the public health care system, work, etc. You can even start working from day one. Such is the magnificence of your rights as a family member of an EU citizen.

  • 1
    Thank you so much, this is absolutely correct and we're in the process of getting our person numbers now. Hopefully this answer will help others in the future.
    – Ryan Nel
    Jun 2, 2018 at 12:43
  • @RyanNel That's great. I think the maximum processing time should be 8 weeks.
    – Fiksdal
    Jun 2, 2018 at 17:24

If the visa you've used to enter Sweden is still valid and it is a multi-entrance visa, you can, you can leave and re-enter Sweden.

Once your visa is expired and you've submitted your residency application to Migratinsverket, you can remain in Sweden as long as the application is registered and being processed.

You can leave Sweden any moment, but you will not be able to come back without a valid visa, even if your application is under review. You will not be allowed to travel within the Schengen zone either.

You cannot apply for bank account without the personal number, which is given only to people with the legal residency. You cannot star any sort of an employment without a valid work/residency permit.

  • 2
    I've had such conflicting options on this. The Migrationsverket website (linked in my question) states very clearly that "your family have the right to start working or studying immediately after coming to Sweden. They do not need to wait to apply for or be granted their residence card." If this website is accurate, I don't understand how to apply for a tax or personal number without the residence card however.
    – Ryan Nel
    Jan 21, 2018 at 20:12

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