Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rättslig Igen

JoeThe end of January was also the end of of our first year in Sweden, a fact which carried a significance beyond the purely personal: Swedish Residence Permits are only issued for one year at a time, so we had to apply for another year. The application process had the sorts of ups and downs we've come to expect from the Swedish bureaucracy. You can apply online, so there's no need to wait in line; on the other hand, to get help with the online forms you have to send an e-mail, and getting a reply takes a little while (four weeks, to be precise). There are customized instructions for each kind of application; this would be helpful if we could figure out what kind of application we needed to make, as Jennifer is sort of an employee, sort of a visiting researcher, and sort of a student.

Ideally, I would be able to list an upside of the online form itself here, just for the sake of parallelism, but I cannot in good conscience do it. In this day and age, there is no excuse for making a form which:

  1. flat out will not work with any browser other than MS Explorer running on Windows,
  2. is 8 pages long, but doesn't validate your information until you reach the end of page 6, at which point it simply informs you that you did something wrong somewhere (for example, you might have included a punctuation mark in a field somewhere, like when you reported your birthplace as "Greenville, Mississippi"), leaving you to figure out what is wrong for yourself,
  3. throws away everything you've entered so far if you click "cancel" on any one of the dialogue boxes that pop up with some regularity,
  4. immediately crashes the browser if you type a single Swedish character (ö, ä, å) anywhere,
  5. will not let you continue past page 6 until you have attached copies of all required documentation, despite the fact that the documents listed on page 6 are different from the ones listed on the "Have this ready before you proceed…" page, and are not in point of fact the documents you actually need to submit to Migrationsverket.
Anyway, after each of us had filled out the online form at least a dozen times, we finally got everything to work, and we submitted our application (along with our fee of 1000 SEK each). Then we settled in to wait. And wait.

I feel like I should have something insightful to relate about our 30 days as illegal immigrants, but the truth is that we've both been so busy we haven't really had time to think about it. Oh sure, when sitting around the odd evening discussing whether or not we might go to Copenhagen over Easter break one of us would say, "Of course, that's assuming they'll let us back into the country if we leave…", but beyond that we didn't really give it too much thought.

Well, this week the waiting ended when Jennifer got an e-mail stating that our permit had been renewed. So on Thursday afternoon we headed back to the local Migrationsverket, a trip we haven't made in over a year, to get our pictures taken and have new permits stuck in our passports. I tend to give Migrationsverket a hard time, but the truth is that it's remarkably efficient: I can't imagine U.S. Immigration giving an answer to anything in under 6 months, and I certainly wouldn't expect to be only 6th in line for the walk-in hours at the local branch office. In fact, we would have been done with the whole process in under an hour if the sticker printing machine hadn't been broken. As it was, in just under two hours we had our new permits, and I was able to get back to campus before my afternoon class started.

The best part? They back-dated the permit, so while we weren't legal residents when it was actually February, now we were legal residents then. Try saying that in Swedish.

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