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
How do I get the email alerts from the Embassy?
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
My kids and I have U.S. citizenship, but my partner does not. Will she be viewed differently under current immigration policy when we travel back to the U.S.?
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.
We are having our first child here within the next week or so, what are the steps in getting a birth registry and passport for our child right away?
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
We had a baby mid-March and need to submit the required paperwork to register his birth, apply for his passport, and apply for his social security number. Is there any problem with the paperwork not being submitted shortly after his birth, as we hope to be able to travel when it is safe to do so?
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.
I was born in Sweden, but my parents never registered my citizenship when I was a child. How do I get my U.S. passport if I never had one before?
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.
When is the next time you will be in Gothenburg for Consular Day?
We hope to resume our Consular Days in Gothenburg as soon as possible, but are unable to provide a date at this time.
I plan on traveling this summer to the United States, can I still submit my passport for mail-in renewal right now?
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.
Is it possible to have an interview via skype or google hangouts if the original documents and passport are sent as a recommended letter to the embassy?
Unfortunately, no. For security and privacy reasons, applications which require an in-person interview cannot be conducted via teleconference.
Are vulnerable populations required to attend in-person appointments?
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.
I need to notarize a document to close on a house sale, can I schedule a notary appointment?
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.
I have a question about the 90-day visiting limit for Americans in the Schengen Area without a visa. My flight has been canceled, what should I do if I cannot leave before my time is up?
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.
What can the Embassy do to help me get back to America?
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.
What will the Embassy do if I cannot afford a ticket home?
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.
I am an American citizen working and living here in Stockholm. As I pay Swedish taxes out of my salary, do I have to pay or file taxes in America as well?
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.
Are U.S. citizens living abroad eligible to receive the economic payments we see in the news? How do we get these?
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
What should I do if I think I am sick?
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.
What do I do about health services or insurance while in Sweden?
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.
I live in Sweden alone and my nearest family is back in the US. What procedures are in place to help facilitate communication to family in the US should I end up in ICU and unable to let my family know I am severely sick?
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.
As a public educator to primary grade students, my school has not closed and I feel I am faced with choosing between my family or my job. What are my rights when I feel I should be in self-isolation?
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.
Regarding questions on test kits or masks.
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.
Who do I contact for questions about visas?
Immigrant visa questions can be emailed to StkIVinfo@state.gov. Non-immigrant visa questions can be emailed to StkNIVinfo@state.gov.
I'm an American citizen living in Sweden. I'd like to vote in the coming presidential election. Can I vote at the embassy using my passport?
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
If I am an American in a unique situation, who should I contact?
According to Swedish “Tullverket,” we need to contact you in regards to sending medicine to my Swedish parents, currently residing in my house in Florida, in case they are not able to fly back to Sweden in May. Is this correct? We are going to send them through Fedex.
No, unfortunately, we are unable to directly assist in such cases. However, FedEx itself specifically addresses this issue. For more information visit: https://ask.fedex.com/help/en-gb/preparing-to-send/Prescription-Medicine-USA.
I’m a U.S. citizen studying in Sweden and I want to finish the semester here in order to get credit for my home college. If I stay until June, will I still be able to get home? If not, can I get my student residence permit extended?
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.
Is there any other party in Sweden that provide Notary Services?
Yes, there are Swedish notarial services available in Sweden, but you would have to look them up online.
Should travel be postponed through the summer?
The extended stay (longer than 90 days) language through Swedish migration requires stating how long you will plan to stay. In this situation, those who might not be able to leave likely won’t know how long they will have to stay. What is the best course of action?
I’m an American resident but Swedish citizen and live in the United States. My daughter lives in Sweden and she is not resident in the United States, can she travel and be with me during Covid-19?
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.
Of the 13 approved ports of entry, there is a big black hole in the West apart from the coast, O’Hare and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Could someone look at a map and consider adding Denver or Salt Lake City?
Does a sambo who is not a wife or husband, have to go through quarantine as the United States doesn’t recognize common law marriages?
All travelers entering the United States are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
How do I get my $1,200 for the coronavirus stimulus if I am living in Sweden, have not filed a tax return, and receive Social Security here in Sweden?
I am a graduate student, currently residing in Sweden. I will need to be in the United States by June for a job in the healthcare sector. Will there be travel options in May or is it recommended to return immediately?
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.
You mention “immediate family” can travel to the U.S. with you. If I fly to the U.S. and my Swedish husband follows days later, how do we prove that he is immediate family? Our marriage certificate is in Swedish. Or if we are on the same flight, is just arriving together enough?
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.
Can American citizens fly to Canada?
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.
I am a Legal Permanent Resident here in Sweden with a U.S. Citizen wife. I will have been in Sweden one year on 6-26-2020, is there any possibility I can apply for a I-131 Re-entry permit for Sweden?
My parents are in the risk group in California. If they get sick and I need to go back to the United States, will I be quarantined when I get there?
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.
Any options for a Green-Card holder who has been outside of the United States over 1 year without a re-entry permit?
What is the current wait time for a mail-in passport renewal that was initiated mid-March?
Mid-March passport applications should’ve been received by now. Contact us at STKacsinfo@state.gov to check if your passport has arrived.
Is the Embassy repatriating or planning to repatriate staff to the United States?
No but authorized departures, i.e. if someone wants to return to the United States voluntarily, are an option.
If we leave Sweden, are we able to get back in if we are not permanent residents?
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.
Can you tell me a little more about STEP and how to register?
Is there quarantining if I return to 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.
I am an international medical doctor. I received an e-mail from the United States that I need to contact the Embassy to get visa help during the Covid-19 situation.
If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you can send your inquiry to STKnivinfo@state.gov.
How do I get my baby a Social Security Number?
Should you travel if you are symptomatic?
No, you should not travel if you are symptomatic.
If I currently have an appointment, how do I reschedule and when?
E-mail us at STKacsinfo@state.gov.
Do you know if the economic impact payments are taxable in Sweden?
Sweden has extended their advice to not travel until 15th June. Does that realistically mean that there will be a decline of commercial flights up until that point and then they will ramp up again? In short, after 15th June, should we expect more commercial options to go back home to the United States?
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.
Where can we find a summary of what medical information can be communicated by law (and to whom) under the Privacy Act to family in the United States or when a Power of Attorney or written document would be required?
If an American traveler in Sweden is symptomatic, should they still come back to the United States as soon as possible? Or should they wait until no symptoms to travel back?
Anyone who is symptomatic should consult a health professional before planning any travel.
I have heard that passports are only being issued in emergency situations. Is that true?
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.
My child has a medical condition that puts him at risk (a weak respiratory system). Can he stay home from school? Can our family?
This is a question for the Swedish authorities and your child’s school.