The big news for British citizens in Europe this week was that freedom of movement was excluded from the latest draft of the Brexit deal. The draft grants Brits who meet the requirements for permanent residency rights in their host country, but does not allow onward movement within the EU.
There are currently just under 20,000 British citizens living in Sweden without Swedish citizenship, figures from Statistics Sweden show. But many of them are applying for citizenship as a way of ensuring they cannot only stay in Sweden but continue to enjoy the rights that come with membership of the EU after Brexit.
As The Local has previously reported, a record 1,859 Britons submitted their applications for Swedish citizenship in 2017, an increase from 1,616 in 2016 and a huge leap from the years preceding the Brexit vote: in 2015, only 511 Brits applied for Swedish citizenship while 491 did so in 2014.
The trend shows no sign of slowing down. Between January 1st and November 1st this year, a total of 1,619 Brits applied to become Swedish nationals, according to official statistics kept by the Migration Agency.
In the same period, 1,098 citizenship requests were approved and 63 rejected – in other words an approval rate of 91 percent. But they faced a long wait, with applicants waiting on average 271 days for a decision.
Stuart Mayes, a Brit living in Sweden, told The Local he had been told when he submitted his application for Swedish citizenship back in October 2016 that the process would take between three and five months.
"When that deadline passed I got in touch with the Migration Agency who confirmed that there was a backlog and it would be nearer to a year to process an application. When that time expired I was directed to their website where they stated that applications would be processed in less than 24 months. In October this year I checked again and discovered that they had updated the processing period to 23-26 months," he said.
Last week he received a letter informing him "that they are starting to consider my application and that I have to return my passport to them along with other documents to demonstrate my eligibility for citizenship. So in total, the time from my initial application to receiving an outcome will be close to if not exceeding 26 months."
Another Brit, who did not wish to be named, told The Local: "As a permanent resident, married to a Swede for 18 years, paid taxes, contributed significantly to Sweden's academic profile, no criminal record, I am still waiting for a response 22 months after applying."
When The Local took to social media to ask readers how long they had had to wait for a decision on their citizenship application, we got a variety of different replies.
"It has taken 24 months so far and counting. Impossible to get any meaningful response. After 12 months they said 15-18 months. After 18 months they said 21-23 months. Now they say 24-26 months. Like the carrot and the donkey, always receding," tweeted Colin Carlile.
"I've currently been waiting about a year and half after having been here for over five years. They haven't even allocated a case officer to look at it as far as I can figure out. Getting nervous now!" wrote another Brit.
But there were also positive stories.
"It took about three months to get mine with a turnaround of a day to get my passport," wrote Simon Linter.
Another said she had waited "just three weeks" when she applied in August.
And Scott Clarke, a Brit who applied for citizenship in January 2017 after 24 years in Sweden, said he only had to wait a total of five working days for a decision. "I was pretty surprised. Don't know if things have changed but I know a couple of others who were done in weeks rather than months," he told The Local.
On Friday the Migration Agency's website stated, without specifying the nationality of the applicants, that those applying for Swedish citizenship today could face a 26 month wait for a decision.
It added: "Note that this is not a promise that you will receive a decision within this time. The time shows long long it has taken for people with similar applications to get a decision."