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BREXIT

Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?

December 31st is the last day to apply for post-Brexit residence status in Sweden, and in some cases it may be worth applying even if you hold Swedish citizenship.

Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?
The main difference between residence status and citizenship relates to which family members can join you. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

British citizens are eligible for citizenship in Sweden if they have had legal residence in the country for at least five years (or three, in certain circumstances where they have lived with a Swedish partner) and meet the requirement of having “conducted themselves well”, in other words not committed serious crimes or racked up significant debt.

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, there has been a surge in the number of Brits applying for citizenship in Sweden.

The two statuses are different. Swedish citizenship grants you certain additional rights such as being able to vote in elections and work for the army or police, and it can never be revoked, meaning you retain the right to live and work in Sweden (and other EU countries) even if you leave Sweden.

The new post-Brexit permanent residence status, despite the name, can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than five consecutive years, or if you are deported or expelled from Sweden (the latter usually only happens in the case of very serious crimes). Permanent residence is specific to Sweden, so Brits with this status will retain the rights they had as an EU citizen to live and work in Sweden, but if they want to move to another EU country, they must follow the procedures for third country nationals, usually involving a work permit.

But even if you are eligible for Swedish citizenship, it may be worth applying for the post-Brexit residence status as well.

Firstly, if you have applied for Swedish citizenship but not yet received a decision, it’s important to apply for the post-Brexit status too. Sweden has long processing times for citizenship applications, and it is difficult to predict how long any individual application will take. Having an in-progress citizenship application is not enough to secure your right to live and work in Sweden after December 31st, 2021.

Secondly, there is one area in which the post-Brexit residence status grants more generous rights than Swedish citizenship, and it’s an area that may affect a lot of foreigners.

“The advantage of residency status is that certain family members of British citizens with residency status have the right to join their British family member in Sweden afterwards (ie after the end of the application period) and can then apply for residency status. In such cases, they have three months to apply from the time they arrived in Sweden,” a press communicator for the Migration Agency confirmed to The Local.

“Family members of people with British-Swedish citizenship, on the other hand, need a residence permit, but British citizens with Swedish citizenship can also apply for residence status and thus make it easier for their family members.”

This right applies to spouses, long-term partners, unmarried children under 21, as well as other close family relations if they can prove financial dependence on their British relative in Sweden. People in this category will be able to move to Sweden even after the end of 2021 and apply for residency status granting them the same rights as their British family member, in other words the right to access Swedish healthcare, live and work in Sweden. More information is available on the agency’s website. This is significantly more lenient than the current process for family members of Swedish citizens, who are required to apply for a residence permit if they wish to join their partner or parent.

The Local asked the Migration Agency if there were any other rights conferred by the post-Brexit residence status that were not conferred by citizenship. We were told: “No, the simpler possibility for family members to join their British family member in Sweden is the advantage of residence status compared to a Swedish citizenship.”

Brits, including British-Swedish dual nationals, now have until the end of December 2021 to apply for the post-Brexit residence status after the agency extended the deadline. The application is free, and applicants simply need to prove they have had right of residence of Sweden before December 31st, 2020 (when the transition period ended).

Member comments

  1. I am confused by this because the migrationsverket e-service asks “For what reasons you have had residence for 5 consecutive years, with the following answers:
    Employee
    Self-employed
    Student
    Person with sufficient means of subsistence
    Family member or guardian of a British citizen in Sweden (I summarise the last 5 categories to this)
    But this excludes all us British citizens that were granted residency because we accompanied a Swedish citizen to Sweden (i.e like me who married a Swede and moved here).
    So I cannot proceed….it probably makes no difference but I was doing it anyway to get all the rights I can! I’ll just satisfy myself with meagre dual citizenship 😋

  2. Could you please write the same article but for Denmark? We need to convince as many dual nationals to apply as possible. I’m also concerned that people applying for citizenship think they don’t need to apply for the new card, leaving them at risk of losing their legal residency after the end of the year.

  3. I’ve read this article half-a-dozen times and still don’t understand how someone with Swedish citizenship that they acquired in addition to their original citizenship can apply for ‘residency status’ when their acquired citizenship automatically gives them the right to residency.

    I can understand the difference in rights regarding the residency of family members joining the British person in Sweden, but still can’t get my head round how a (new) Swedish citizen can also apply for residency status. Surely once you have obtained Swedish citizenship you can’t also apply for Swedish residency status because you already have it through your citizenship. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

    1. Hi Tony,
      I wrote an article answering your question here: https://www.thelocal.se/20211011/reader-question-can-british-swedish-dual-citizens-apply-for-post-brexit-status/
      In short, you can apply, if you also qualify for residency under EU rules, but you don’t have to. In this case you would just apply as usual and you can state in the “other information” section of your application that you’re a dual citizen. The only benefit is the right for other family members (such as parents or children over 21) to be able to move to you or visit visa-free.
      Let me know if you have any other questions,
      Becky

  4. I dont want to repeat the above questions, but..
    I have dual citizenship, UK and Swedish. I have been living and working in Sweden for 9 years. I recieved my Swedish citizenship 2 years ago.

    Should I apply for residency status? I dont want to loose any rights but do not want to repeat of the stress it took to get my citizenship.

    I have started the e application (Swedish Migration Agency) for residence status and got to a message “You are filling in an application for residence status as a Swedish citizen. In order to proceed with your case, we need to register your personal data in the aliens database”.

    This made me stop and think. If I dont need it do I need to continue?

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For members

BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

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