Eight Key Scenarios: What Brexit Means for You Depending on Your Situation
With Brexit currently scheduled to take place on October 31st and no deal agreed, here’s a look at the different ways British citizens in Sweden could be affected, depending on their different situations.
Sweden has guaranteed a one-year ‘grace period’ following any no-deal exit, during which all Brits already living in the country would retain their rights to live, work, and obtain healthcare and any other benefits in Sweden without needing a residence permit. If nothing changes they will be treated as third-country nationals after these 12 months, but the government has said work is under way to review the rules, including “the legal possibilities for continuing to live and work in Sweden even after the exception has ceased to apply”.
In the meantime, there are two key things that most Brits in Sweden need to be aware of.
Firstly, during the grace period, the exemption from the need for a residence permit would apply automatically, but British citizens planning travel within that year are advised to apply for a passport stamp to ensure they can return to Sweden without problems. This will be provided free by the Swedish Migration Agency if and when it becomes clear that the UK will leave the EU without a deal, and the Migration Agency has previously said it hopes to process applications for stamps within one week.
Secondly, Brits are advised to apply for a residence permit during the one-year grace period, since after this time they will be subject to the current requirements for third-country citizens.
Here are the details on exactly what that means for you, depending on your specific situation.
Brits with Swedish citizenship
British citizens in this group are the most secure in terms of their rights to continue their lives in Sweden.
Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Swedish citizenship means they will retain their rights to live and work not just in Sweden indefinitely, but also to exercise freedom of movement as an EU citizen.
That means, for example, that moving elsewhere within the EU for work or other reasons would not require a visa or permit, and it also means there is no need to apply for the passport stamp mentioned above or for any residence permit after the grace period.
Brits with a Swedish partner
If a no-deal Brexit occurs, the current guidance is that British citizens will need to apply for residency as third-country nationals. These applications should be made during the one-year ‘grace period’.
Brits with a Swedish partner would be eligible for a so-called family permit, and these permits can be granted to people whether they are married or simply cohabiting (or plan to cohabit) with their Swedish partner. These applications typically include a questionnaire for both the Swedish partner and the third-country partner, as well as an interview about the relationship.
It’s also worth knowing that Brits who are married to or sambos with a Swedish citizen can apply for Swedish citizenship after just three years living in the country, as opposed to the usual time limit of five years.
Brits with an EU partner
If your partner is from an EU country other than the UK or Sweden, you would also be eligible to apply for a family permit under current migration laws.
The EU partner would not need to do anything to ensure their own right to remain in Sweden, but in order for a non-EU family member to be granted a residence permit, the EU citizen would need to show that they meet the requirements for right of residence in Sweden through work, studies or private income/capital.
If the EU partner does not meet these requirements, the British partner would need to apply for another kind of residence permit, for example a work permit.
Brits with a third-country partner
In families in which one partner is a third-country national and the other is British, and the couple moved to Sweden using the British partner’s freedom of movement as a European citizen, both partners will be affected by Brexit.
Both British citizens and any non-EU family members are advised to apply for the passport stamp during the one-year grace period in order to ensure they can return to Sweden after travelling overseas.
After a no-deal Brexit, both partners would need to apply for a residency permit in order to remain in Sweden following the one-year grace period. If neither partner will have been in Sweden for five years at this point, this will likely mean one or both partners getting a work permit. Non-EU family members of people with work permits in Sweden are eligible for a permit as their family member.
Brits who have moved recently
People in this category face the most precarious situation in the event of a no-deal, particularly if they don’t have a Swedish or EU partner.
During the one-year grace period, Brits have been advised to apply for any residency permit they are eligible for, which would most likely be a work permit unless special legislation is passed.
Brits who have lived here more than five years
Most Brits who moved to Sweden over five years ago will be eligible for either citizenship or permanent residency. Almost everyone who has been legally resident in Sweden for five years is eligible for permanent residency, while there are a few more conditions for citizenship. It is highly recommended to apply for whichever of these you are eligible for.
Like others, British students will be able to use the one-year grace period to apply for a student permit.
Usually, non-EU students pay tuition fees in Sweden, but the Swedish government has prepared legislation which would exempt UK nationals from paying student fees until 2022, if the student was either admitted to that course before the date of a no-deal Brexit, or already had residence in Sweden by that date. This legislation would come into force after a no-deal Brexit.
British pensioners living in Sweden who do not fall into any of the above categories face two main concerns: right of residency and pensions.
At the time of writing, it is unclear which options would be open for self-supporting Brits, including pensioners, in terms of residence permits.
As for pensions themselves, UK state pensions rise with the cost of living, and the current pension agreement between EU countries means these rises apply to people drawing British pensions in other EU countries too. In order for this to continue in the case of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would need to introduce a new pension agreement with Sweden.
Published: 1 October 2019