Ambassador Howery’s Virtual Town Hall with Americans in Sweden – Q&A

On April 7, Ambassador Howery held a virtual Town Hall for Americans in Sweden, and took time to answer questions together with Vice Consul John Robbins, American Citizens Services Chief.

Due to the overwhelming response we received during and after the town hall, we are separating questions into two parts – Part 1 for questions submitted in advance of the Town Hall and Part 2 for questions we received during and shortly after the live stream.  In the accordions below, you will find first Part 1, directly followed by Part 2.  You can also view the Town Hall on our Youtube page.

If you still have any questions about our services for American citizens, we’d love to hear from you at: STKACSinfo@state.gov.

 


April 7, 2020 Virtual Town Hall Q&A Part 1

Our email updates are sent to all travelers enrolled in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (aka STEP). U.S. citizens should visit step.state.gov and enroll to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. You can also check out our website for Sweden specific information, including our alert messages related to COVID-19, at se.usembassy.gov

U.S. citizens, residents (in other words, green card holders), and their immediate family members are NOT subject to the Presidential Proclamation that restricts entry into the United States. All travelers who have been in the Schengen Area, which includes Sweden, within 14 days of their arrival in the United States are subject to enhanced screening upon arrival. If you are not symptomatic for COVID-19, you will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you are symptomatic, you will be referred to the CDC for medical evaluation and assistance. Please visit the Department of Homeland Security website at www.dhs.gov for additional questions regarding enhanced screening for travelers.

Generally, for a child born abroad to be documented as a U.S. citizen, three essential requirements must be fulfilled: 1) at least one parent has to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; 2) the existence of a blood relationship between the child and U.S. citizen parent(s); 3) documentary evidence demonstrating the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ physical presence in the United States prior to the child’s birth.

Required documents are listed on our website, but generally include:

  • CRBA and PPT applications completed ahead of time
  • Birth certificate for child
  • Marriage and divorce documents for parents, if applicable
  • Identity and citizenship documents for parents
  • Evidence of physical presence in the United States of the U.S. citizen parent
  • Additional situational documents listed on the website

Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have modified our scheduling procedures to prioritize cases with immediate travel or a need for identity documents to maintain residency status. If you believe your situation constitutes an emergency, please email us at STKACSinfo@state.gov

Parents can apply for a Consular Record of Birth Abroad at any time before the child turns 18, BUT we strongly recommend registering your child’s birth sooner rather than later. If you have made immediate travel plans, email us at StkACSinfo@state.gov so we can facilitate your child’s travel documents.

If you are 18 years old or older and have never been documented as a citizen, you can apply with a DS-11 passport application, and have your parent complete the DS-5507 (affidavit of physical presence). See our website at se.usembassy.gov to review required documents to accompany this application.

We hope to resume our Consular Days in Gothenburg as soon as possible, but are unable to provide a date at this time.

When we originally got this question, the answer was “Absolutely, we are still processing mail-in passport renewals.” However, the passport center in the U.S. printing our passports have been temporarily closed, so, at this point, we cannot say for certain when your new passport will arrive in Stockholm. If you are renewing a 10-year, adult passport, you can still renew your passport by

mail, but we just don’t know when it’ll be here. In the event that your new passport isn’t here by the time of your travel date, you can still get a temporary emergency passport to travel. Please visit our website at se.usembassy.gov, click U.S. Citizens Services, then Passport Services, then Passport Renewal by Mail to see if you qualify for our mail-in renewal process.

Unfortunately, no. For security and privacy reasons, applications which require an in-person interview cannot be conducted via teleconference.

Yes, in-person appointments are still required for applications that demand a personal appearance (such as the passport renewal of a minor). To limit your exposure to other individuals, we have reduced our office staff, enacted social distancing procedures, and adjusted our scheduling practices to ensure that there are minimal customers in the waiting room at any given time.

Again, we are currently prioritizing for customers with immediate travel, but if you believe your situation is an emergency, please email us at StkACSinfo@state.gov.

Swedish migration authorities have informed us that individuals who need to remain longer should apply to extend their status. You can do this by visiting migrationsverket.se. As of April 8, 2020, commercial flights remain available for travel back to the United States via Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Commercial departure options currently remain available in Sweden. Right now, there is no evacuation flight planned for Sweden, and, if there were, we would only have it if commercial options were not available. Any evacuation flights would be announced on our websites and through alerts sent to STEP enrollees; it would also include information on the cost to the traveler.

If you need to return to the United States and cannot obtain a seat on a commercial flight, please email us at StkACSinfo@state.gov. We do have something called a “repatriation loan,” but these usually end up costing a lot more than if a person would have made their own travel arrangements.

All U.S. citizens and resident aliens are subject to U.S. Internal Revenue Service income tax filing rules based upon their worldwide income, regardless of where they live or work. Please go to the IRS’s website for more information.

Congress has passed and the President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens, including Economic Impact Payments, temporary student loan relief, and other benefits. The Embassy does NOT play a direct role in distributing benefit payments. For more information on the Economic Impact Payments or other tax relief measures related to COVID-19, please consult irs.gov/coronavirus

If you are sick, stay home. Do not go to the emergency room, your doctor’s office, or the Embassy unless instructed to do so. In Sweden, for general questions and information about COVID-19, you can call 113 13. For guidance if you have symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19, you can call 1177. If you are experiencing life threatening conditions you should immediately call 112.

For medical advice dial 1177, for immediate health emergencies dial 112. Residents or visitors with permits for stays greater than one year may register with Skatteverket and inquire about public health coverage. Tourists and visitors in Sweden for less than one year should pursue private health insurance or traveler’s insurance. The Embassy cannot recommend any particular provider.

If you have a condition that might require hospitalization, I think the first thing you should do is to give your relatives, friends, and the Embassy a heads-up just to be on the safe side. It is a good idea to discuss communication plans with friends and relatives now; agree on how frequently they will be in touch and whether it will be by phone or email. If anyone is concerned about a U.S. citizen relative or friend who is abroad, they may email or call the Embassy, or call the State Department in Washington, DC. However, due to the Privacy Act, we may not be able to disclose any information without an individual’s prior written consent unless otherwise authorized by law.

The Embassy cannot advise you on tough personal decisions such as these. I can only suggest working directly with the Swedish authorities since I’m sure there are others who share your concern.

The Embassy does not administer COVID test kits or face masks. Sweden is currently only testing high-risk individuals, such as those in the hospital, the elderly, or those with pre-existing conditions. We recommend following medical professional advice on the effectiveness or need for wearing masks. You can check CDC guidance online or call 11313 for Swedish health authorities.

Immigrant visa questions can be emailed to StkIVinfo@state.gov. Non-immigrant visa questions can be emailed to StkNIVinfo@state.gov.

U.S. citizens may register to vote or request an absentee ballot by visiting the Federal Voter Assistance Program website at FVAP.gov.


April 7, 2020 Virtual Town Hall Q&A session, part 2

It depends on the situation, but a good starting point is our American Citizen Services unit at STKacsinfo@state.gov.

At this point, we cannot predict what will happen in June. We have been told that everyone affected by the Covid-19 disruptions may apply with the Swedish Migration Agency to extend their residence permit. Please contact them for more information.

Yes, there are Swedish notarial services available in Sweden, but you would have to look them up online.

General travel should be postponed for now, according to the latest Level 4 Global Health Advisory. For more information, go to www.travel.state.gov.

 

Yes, according to the Presidential Proclamation of March 11, 2020, restricting travel to the United States from Schengen countries, your daughter, as an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident may travel to the United States.

This issue has been carefully considered by the Department of Homeland Security, but, at this time, we have no new information to report. Should there be a development, the Embassy would alert travelers via our STEP messaging system as well as through our website.

You don’t appear to be qualified to receive funds under the stimulus package, but please visit www.IRS.gov for definitive information.

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what will happen next month but our Global Level 4 Health Advisory is urging all Americans living temporarily abroad to return to the United States while commercial flights are available. For those who decide to remain, you should be prepared to stay in the country you are based in for an extended period of time.

Travelers should come prepared with all required documentation to prove immediate family relationship.  These would include civil documents and official translations.  Travelers should also consult with their air carrier.

Please check with the Canadian authorities and your airlines on this question. There are lots of moving parts right now, so what is valid today may change tomorrow. Also, please note that it might depend on where you’re coming from rather than your nationality.

You will need to do a 14-day self-quarantine at home, but be sure to monitor the various U.S. government and state websites to stay abreast of any updates and requirements.

Mid-March passport applications should’ve been received by now. Contact us at STKacsinfo@state.gov to check if your passport has arrived.

No but authorized departures, i.e. if someone wants to return to the United States voluntarily, are an option.

You’ll need to consult with your airlines as the rules are constantly changing. For example, right now there are travel restrictions for Americans entering Schengen countries – including Sweden – from the United States.

Right now, those returning to the United States are being asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Check the various websites, including www.coronavirus.gov for more information.

All Social Security Numbers are handled out of U.S. Embassy Oslo but you can find information on our website: www.se.usembassy.gov under Citizen Services.

No, you should not travel if you are symptomatic.

Right now commercial flights are running albeit on a drastically reduced schedule. It will be up to the airlines to determine what their future flight schedules will be so that is why we are urging everyone to keep monitoring their websites for updated information. We will also try our best to pass along any substantive information regarding travel back to the United States.

 

No, we’re continuing to issue passports, both regular and emergency. However, as mentioned in the Ambassador’s Virtual Town Hall with Americans in Sweden, some of the processing centers have temporarily closed, which means longer turn-around times. If you need to travel and need a passport, contact us at STKacsinfo@state.gov.