It’s been nearly three weeks since we arrived in Stockholm. It’s amazing to be here, and I am loving every minute of it, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge just how difficult and frustrating it was to get to this point.
I shared the bare bones of our visa saga in my August month in review post, but it was all too fresh, the wound was still open. Now that we’ve been here a few weeks and the wound has started to heal, I think it’s finally time I shared the story of my Swedish visa fiasco.
I’d been looking forward to our relocation to Stockholm for months. Even before we moved to Leeds I was excited by the prospect of one day calling Stockholm home.
It had felt so much like home in my previous visits that I was ready to make it official.
We applied for our visas in late-May. We’d just returned from a week’s vacation in Croatia, and after seven days of sunshine, warm weather and clean streets, Leeds was looking particularly grungy and grey. I was ready for a change.
We gathered all our documents, filled out all the forms, and after double, triple, quadruple checking everything, we pressed send.
And then we waited.
And waited so more.
FINALLY, eight long weeks later we learned that visas had been approved; the only catch was they weren’t the visas we applied for.
For whatever reason, the folks at Swedish migration had decided that we didn’t meet the criteria for the work visas we had applied for, but instead granted us only resident’s permits. This had little to no impact on Dave as he is employed out of the UK, but for me, this meant my dream of living and working in Stockholm had just been cut in half.
The whole decision was baffling. We struggled to understand why this had happened when no one else on the project had been affected. Why us? was a question that came up over and over, and despite countless emails and long distance phone calls, no one at the embassy in London or the migration offices in Gothenburg could answer it.
Suddenly, Leeds wasn’t looking so bad.
But, we soldiered on. We spoke with as many people as we could, from Dave’s employers and sponsors to people at several levels at the migration offices. We obtained new documents and letters and prepared to file an appeal for reevaluation. It was the most adult I’d ever felt, and I wasn’t loving it.
Finally, after two weeks of phone calls and emails (and essentially begging) we learned our case was under re-review. I felt good, I felt optimistic, I felt excited again.
And then, we heard two of the worst words in the English bureaucratic language: Decision Upheld.
To say it was disappointing and frustrating is an understatement. In an instant, my world was turned upside down. I’d have to let go of the life I thought I’d have in Stockholm and come to terms with a new one. Those two little words had taken away so much of the excitement that had been building over the last year.
I moped and I mourned, and then I threw myself into all those little tasks that need to get done before you move. I cleaned, I decluttered, I purged my closet to the point that I now realized I may have purged just a bit too far (black and white striped everything does not a wardrobe make, apparently). I did everything I could to not to think about how disappointed I was that my work permit hadn’t been granted.
And then, it was time to go. We said goodbye to Leeds and hello to Stockholm. As I looked out the window on the long cab ride from Arlanda to the city, I could feel all of my anger and frustration slowly melting away.
We were here and Stockholm was home; the rest no longer seemed to matter.
In the three weeks since we arrived, I’ve managed to move past the anger and frustration. Yes, I am still mildly annoyed that there are many additional hurdles to pass if I want to work, but it’s not the end of the world. Not in the slightest. There are far worse things that could have happened than not being granted a work permit.
As I sit in our flat, looking out at the changing and falling leaves, I can’t help but feel happy. I’m so very grateful to be on this adventure and to be able to call a fourth country home. It’ may not be exactly as I had planned it, but in so many ways, it so much better.
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