The Sambo Visa Part 1: Visa Application

Jens and Jan Norway

Today I thought that I should share about my experience applying for this special Sambo visa that has granted me the right to live, work and study in Sweden for the next two years. It is going to be quite long and wordy so please skip this post if it doesn’t interest you!

This Sambo visa is definitely not new and I remember that while waiting for a decision, I got quite a bit of advice from friends who already went through the process, read The Local Sweden’s forum pages quite frequently and also came across a few bloggers who shared about their experience. If you are interested, you can read about their experience here: Chris from America and Hana from Singapore.

To be honest, in spite of everything that I heard/read, everyone’s experience is unique and there is no formula to predict each person’s journey to visa approval BUT there are definitely some things that you could look out for if you are planning to apply for one.

So, what is this visa?

Sweden issues resident permits (Uppehållstillstånd) to people looking to move to someone in the country if you fulfill certain conditions. In this case, as a non-EU citizen, I am allowed to apply for this “Sambo” visa based on my relationship with Jens, a Swedish citizen. This visa would allow us to put an end to our long distance relationship and at the same time grant me the right to work and study in Sweden. Hence unlike the visas typically given out in my home country (Singapore), this visa is neither based on an employment offer nor marital ties. After two years, this temporary residence permit can converted to a permanent residence permit and is subject to another round of approval.

More information can be found at the Migration Board website in Swedish and in English.

Jens and Jan

Throwback to our first picture taken together in 2012.

Why Sweden?

There were many reasons that led us to make this decision, which in my opinion is the biggest decision I have ever made in my life so far. For one, the Sambo visa allows us to be together without having to rush into marriage. We are still young and both want to spend more time developing our careers and building our relationship at our own pace (in the same country). I know that Jens could have applied for a work visa in Singapore if he received a job offer but I don’t think he is eligible to apply for what he is interested to pursue because he is not a Singapore citizen.

In addition, I have spent six months living and studying in Sweden before so I have had a taste of what life in Sweden is like while Jens on the other hand is not so accustomed to city life and being a nature lover/country boy, our concrete jungle might drive him a bit mad (haha, I kid). That being said, who knows what the future would bring?

How to apply?

It is best to apply online through the Migration Board website because web applications are suppose to be processed faster than paper applications. There is quite a bit to prepare for the visa application so it is good to get everything ready.

On my part, I prepared: 1) Proof that I am not married through the Registry of Marriage in Singapore. 2) Photographs with my partner over the course of our relationship at different places. 3) Evidence to proof our trips/visits were real – eg ticket stubs, aeroplane tickets, hotel bookings  etc. 4) Evidence to proof that I studied in Sweden before because I was there for 6 months while on exchange. 5) My family details – eg full name, birthday etc 6) A long letter detailing our relationship and how we came to the decision to apply for the permit. For my boyfriend Jens, he helped me collect personal information of his family members – eg their full name, address, personnummer, birthday etc.

To be honest, I did do more than what was required but I wanted to have everything in place so that I could easily pull out any evidence if they wanted to do further checks.

As a tip, preparing for these questions would help you complete the application form faster: 1) Listing all the exact dates and reasons for your past visits to Sweden. 2) Describing your background, interests and current situation. 2) Describe your partner’s background, interests and current situation. 3) Describe in detail how you first met your partner. 4) Describe in detail how you have maintained your relationship. 5) What is your plan when you move to Sweden.

After filling out the online application, I simply attached all the relevant scanned documents and paid the application fee of about SGD$300. Shortly after that, Jens received an email with the same application but in Swedish. He then filled it up and submitted it online.

This part is a bit of a blur but I remember receiving an email that said that our application was received together with a control number. In the next email, approximately one month later, I was asked to contact the local Swedish embassy within 14 days to set up an interview and I simply called them up and set up an interview at the earliest date.

What happens during the interview?

To be honest, the interview was really simple and straightforward because it was a verbalization of the online application. The only thing that made it seem “scary” was the fact that you are separated from your interviewer by a glass window and you have to hand over documents through a small slot. Otherwise the interviewer in my case was really nice and very experienced in handling visa applications.

What happens after the interview?

You wait. Unfortunately, apart from doing the interview, the local Swedish embassy is not able to do much to aid the approval process. This is because everything is in the hands of the migration office in Sweden and the case officer assigned to your case. If you refer to my timeline below, you would notice that I had a very long waiting time (in comparison to most bloggers and friends) and it was extremely frustrating and painful.

To anyone looking to apply for the visa, my advice would be to: 1) Ensure that you are planning to move to Sweden soon. 2) Ensure that you have your accommodation ready. 3) Have loads of patience.

Jens and Jan Grand Canyon

Best thing to do while waiting is to save up and travel! Here is us on a month long road trip along the West Coast of USA.

For our case, we did try calling and emailing in to enquire but neither of which was very helpful. In the end, we decided to just focus on our relationship and met up in different parts of the world every few months (it was quite fun to be honest!). We were really blessed to have very understanding bosses and enough leave days from work to tide us through the waiting period. It was also nice that Jens was able to make a few trips to Singapore (since I was told not to enter Sweden during the waiting period) and that gave him the opportunity to get to know my family, friends and home country better.

The timeline

In case you are wondering how long the entire visa process took, here is a summary of our timeline:

Submission of Application Online: 22nd September 2013

Registered as received by Swedish Embassy: 18th October 2013

Interview at Swedish Embassy in Singapore: 5th November 2013

Application approved: 28th November 2014

We never heard from the Migration board throughout the waiting period but a week before I received the phone call from the Swedish Embassy in Singapore to let me know that the application has been approved, Jens did receive a phone call from the Migration board in Sweden to clarify a few points. It was good that my friend Irene had a similar experience so I told Jens to look out for any phone calls from numbers he did not recognise (of course we didn’t know that it meant waiting by the phone for more than a year but that is okay).

I went down to the Swedish Embassy in Singapore to pick up the decision letter but took awhile before I bought my one way ticket to Sweden because funny enough Jens and I had already planned and booked a Singapore and Bali trip from late December to early January.

To be honest, getting a decision is really just the first step to the start of this brand new (and unpredictable) journey. In the process of getting ready for the big move, I have to admit that I was quite nervous about leaving the comforts of home. I am really thankful for the amazing support system that I have and also grateful for this opportunity to be on this new adventure in a country I consider my second home.

Whenever you are ready, hop on over to PART TWO of my story on moving to Sweden and settling in.

Till the next time!

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17 thoughts on “The Sambo Visa Part 1: Visa Application

  1. Omg u waited so long, I am waiting for my sambo now. I have waiting over five months, but i already had interview. i dunno how long i will get visa. really hate long distance, we tried to call n email, it doesnt work .. 😦

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    • I totally know what you are going through and it really sucks. I waited more than a year for an answer after my interview and there was really nothing my local embassy nor the Migrationboard could do to help. Both me and my sambo called and emailed multiple times throughout the year but in the end the best thing we could do was to focus on ourselves instead and just continued planning visits to meet up versus waiting around.

      I am so sorry you are going through this and feeling like you are living life in a limbo (at least that was how I felt). I hope you would be able to stay positive, try to enjoy time with your family and friends, try to meet up with your partner whenever you both can and soon enough you will definitely get a reply! Stay positive!

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  2. Hej
    Thanks for replying me. I think it is summer now. Many swede go traveling and no one wants to work.
    Yes. Me and my boyfriend are planning to meet again. Probably go to Japan 🙂 I’m Taiwanese and I lived in Gävle last year. But my boyfriend lives in Uppsala. You should visit Uppsala sometimes. It is really nice town 🙂 different views between Stockholm:) thank you again

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      • Hello It is me again,Yesterday My boyfriend called Migration board and said “someone takes our case.”
        I asked some friends, they told me that it will be faster if someone takes ur case. I hope i will not wait so long 😉 have a good day

        I-Chi

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  3. Hi! I’m also Singaporean and my sambo visa application has been in progress for 2.5 months now with no word from the migration board, and have heard stories of people who waited a year for their application to be approved, so I totally agree that everyone’s experience is completely unique.

    Plus I may have rushed into the application and actually didn’t know that I had to attach any documents besides a scan of my passport, think that likely contributed to the long waiting time & they would probably ask for the other documents before they proceed with the interview.

    Right now I am in a dilemma because I’m *moving* to Stockholm in October and will be looking for work to end the LDR quicker, and a work visa would mean we’d have to reapply for the sambo visa again after and only from Singapore.

    Anyway, I’m happy to see your LDR work out because that means that we stand a chance too! Hope you’re enjoying your new life in Stockholm! 🙂
    -Delfina

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  4. Hi 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been waiting for almost 5 months now just for the first approval to do an interview, still waiting >.< it's killing me. I wondered if calling them up could fasten the process. I'd probably applied at the wrong time too after the news of refugees fleeing to Europe countries. That would explain the case. Anyway, I'm happy that you can finally be with your 'sambo' 😉
    My sambo and I live in Linköping. Perhaps someday we can make a gathering for the asian ladies in Sweden lol.

    Like

  5. Hello,I am Ukrainian, my boyfriend is Swedish, your story worried me because it takes so long time to get united!((( But it gives a lot of details how to proceed. Thank you for that. But do you know if I can’t apply at the same time for short stay visa to Sweden?

    Like

    • Sorry I have not checked back on this space in awhile but would love to hear more about your story. Sweden has been really kind and the work is kind of a long story but not impossible to find (even without Swedish)!

      Like

  6. Hello, i know this is a veeery old post but i would like to ask here something, right now i have a work permit, but i will get married and then i need to register all at skatteverket and then doing the application for getting the resident permit, but i know they are taking too long now for making a decision, like 20 months of something like that, so my question is: during the waiting time, am i able to work?, because if for example i change my job, is that possible? who can help me on this?, thanks a lot in advanced

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    • Ohh I am not too sure but I think that as long as you have a right to still be in Sweden you should be allowed to work. But you should definitely check with the migration board!

      Like

  7. Hi,

    I want to share our experiences about the Sambo Application. We got the answer 3 days ago and we would be glad to impart this process experience especially to those who are still in line.

    I am a nurse from Philippines and had been an au pair in Scandinavia. I met my Swedish partner online before au pairing (actually the reason why I decided to be an au pair is to be with him as he works flexibly in Scandinavia) and since then we are very serious to keep our relationship. For those who are curious although not important to mention we are in our late 20s.

    We applied early May 2016. We had to answer some questions online but separately. Right away, we got the confirmation that the application has been paid and received. Next, we have to wait for appointment of the interview.

    We moved to Morocco for a few months, note that we applied last May 2016 when we were in Scandinavia. I got an email to get an appointment last week of August 2016. We had to choose Rabat, Morocco. And there’s no way we can have the interview soon. The next available interview was February 2017.

    It took us 6 months to wait before I had my interview. It was very successful. It was like talking to your friend. The interviewer was very thorough and so as we. We brought all our flight tickets, contract that we live together, pictures, photo copy of the passport stamps where we had been. Luckily, we had been around Scandinavia together and met his family, friends and relatives many times.

    Most importantly, they want to know the big events in your relationship like meeting the family, friends, relatives. Maybe you had been brought to the occasions where it’s within the family, any marriage proposal, had been married, etc. In addition, we got engaged recently before we had the interview in Rabat. It does show we are very serious. My partner is very supportive in many ways and is very serious too. So, we go everywhere together.

    I think initially, you also have to bring up how interested you are about moving to Sweden with your partner and your plans together, perhaps to settle if that’s yours. They want to know how many times had I been to Sweden and its purposes. As I have said earlier, these are big events in your relationship. I had been to Sweden many times but they weren’t that interested about sightseeing, food I have tried, excursions we did, etc. but something more meaningful that proves the sincerity between you and your Sambo. Besides, you would have already mentioned this online. But, go ahead do what you think will make your application be approved. We just wanted to be very thorough and wanted to do the best we can 🙂

    I want to add that we mentioned we will move as soon as we got the permission to stay in Sweden. We are fortunate enough to have received the answer last April 2017. 🙂

    Congratulations to those who have made it!
    Good luck, be patient and have fun building up your relationship together, research and ask for help for those who are still waiting for their interview and/or about to do this same process! 🙂

    Like

  8. Hey all,
    Swedapura, thanks a lot for sharing your experience!!!
    My girlfriend and I will soon begin the process for a sambo visa as well and we’re so anxious about it. We need to make sure that we’ll submit any kind of evidence that could prove our relationship.
    So I was wondering when you said you submitted ticket stubs etc, what exactly did you do (e.g. did you upload the receipts or sth?) and do you believe it helped? Also, what kind of evidence was requested from your sambo?
    Thanks for the help! Wish us luck 😀

    Cheers

    Like

  9. hi everybody,
    i’m Tunisian and i meet my man in spain then we decided to be in relationship.my man is from Chilie and have permanent residency in Sweden and been born in Sweden. we aply for sambo visa in november 2016 and we get email for the registration of our application. then we start the stressful period of waiting for the answer.now we are on july 2017 and we did not make even the interview. we visit each other every few months because i have schengen visa, i visit him twice for 15 days and then 3 months and he visit me once for 20 days.we decided to get married and we did marry in sweden.We did send to migrationsverket the papper from skataverket that show we are marry. we have been calling migrationsverket and the swedish ambassy in Tunisia and they say the answer can take up to 2 years and the interview can be after one year- one year and half. we are happy together andours families too but still the fact of leaving far away from each other is stressful specially that we don ‘t know for real how long it will take to get the answer

    Like

    • Hi wiwi,

      That is quite a longer time than ours if you read my shared experience from the previous post.
      Regarding the waiting period that was given to you via phone, yes it is true and that’s what is on their website. But still it could be any time soon this year that you’ll get an interview. I just hope you will have it as soon as possible. People are on summer vacation here and will continue in three weeks so it can affect the waiting time as well. So far, I don’t think what contributes to affect other application is the growth of asylum seekers as it is actually less this year (https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/About-the-Migration-Agency/News-archive.html). It probably something else.

      I advice that while waiting, make your relationship stronger by communicating very well since you’re far from each other. It is very good to hear to keep visiting each other or having a trip somewhere else together, it helps to show your sincerity to each other though yes, you’re married. As far as I remember, while applying for Sambo, you cannot stay in Sweden after your interview (correct me if I am wrong) it’s just not how it works in Sweden. In addition, you can apply as a tourist AT THE TIME YOU’RE WAITING for the interview schedule. I can try to find my source link about this and share here again.

      Anyway, I wish you good luck. We know how it’s challenging to be on a distant relationship. Be strong and be very very patient, it is going to be worth it! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Dee

      Like

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