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A Guide to Visa Types and Work Permits in Sweden

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  • Nathan Reed

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The first thing to know about Swedish visas is that if you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you cannot be in the country when you apply. EU/EEA citizens have the right of residence in Sweden and therefore can move to the country with or without a job. However, they will need to start the Swedish visa application process if they plan to stay in the country long-term. Citizens of other Nordic countries do not have to do anything.

In this section of the guide, we look at how to apply for a Swedish visa, including the main requirement—to have a job offer from a Swedish company. We also explore the additional steps you need to take, like submitting a copy of your passport and paying the visa fee.

You will also learn about the timeline for getting your visa. As you cannot enter Sweden before you secure your visa/work permit, it is important to be mindful that for most applicants, you will only need to wait one to two months for your application to be approved. The rules are different, however, for different types of visa. Self-employed workers, for example, might wait upwards of a year.

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Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

Depending on your country of origin, you will need a work permit or employment visa to work in Sweden. If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you have the right to remain in Sweden. This means there are no work permit requirements for you to take up work there. When you enter Sweden, or look for work, all you will need to do is show your passport.

As an EU/EEA citizen, you are also allowed to come to Sweden to search for jobs. Once you have a job and are settled in Sweden, you will need to register with the Swedish Tax Agency. Read more about this in our Residence Permits section below.

As a non-EU/EEA resident, you need a job offer to be eligible for a work permit, which you require to enter Sweden. It is not possible to enter Sweden, nor begin working in Sweden, before you are granted a work permit.

Requirements for a Swedish Work Permit

To obtain a Swedish work permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid passport.
  • Be offered employment that complies with the terms set by Swedish collective agreements, or are standard for the occupation.
  • Be offered a monthly salary of at least 13,000 SEK (1,480 USD) before taxes, or offered a salary that is on par with the position
  • Be offered employment that includes health insurance, life insurance, and social security.

When you apply for the work permit, you will also need to show proof of accommodation in Sweden as well as intentions to leave the country once your employment contract is through.

In addition to the requirements you must meet to apply for a Swedish work visa, your Swedish employer must also meet certain requirements to hire you.

  • The job must have been advertised in the EU/EEA for at least ten days.
  • The job must include employment terms on par with other Swedish jobs within the same industry.

How to Apply for a Swedish Work Visa

You can apply for a Swedish work visa in person at a Swedish embassy or online. The easiest way is to submit the Swedish work permit application form online.

Step One: Offer of Employment

Your Swedish employer will need to submit a written job offer and obtain approval from the relevant trade union regarding the job and salary. The job offer should include the length of employment, as this is directly linked to the validity period of the visa.

Step Two: Employer Initiates Application

Once you receive and accept a job offer, your employer will start the online application for you with the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket). To do this, they will need your date of birth, information about your citizenship, education, and email address.

Step Three: Email

Once your employer starts the application, you will receive an email to start your side of the process. This is when you will need to list whether you will be moving alone or with your family.

Step Four: Submit Documents

Because you will also need a residence visa in addition to a work permit, the only documents you will need to submit for the work permit are:

  • your passport (specifically the identification page as well as any stamps or visas already in the passport);
  • employment offer;
  • statement from a trade union.

Step Five: Cost

The cost of a work permit should only be 2,000 SEK (230 USD). Permits for certain professions may cost less.

Step Six: Wait

The wait time for your work permit can vary greatly depending on several factors: whether you applied online or in person, whether you are self-employed or employed by a company, and the industry in which you will be working. For most expats who are employed by a Swedish company, the wait time is one to three months.

Specialty Work Permits Types

EU Blue Card

An EU Blue Card is a work and residence permit for highly skilled workers. To qualify, you must work in a profession and have a university degree or five years of professional work experience.

Applying for the EU Blue Card requires documents from both the employee and employer.

The employee is required to have:

  • a valid passport;
  • a university education equivalent to 180 university credits, or five years’ relevant professional experience;
  • taken out or applied for a comprehensive health insurance policy that covers health and medical care in Sweden;
  • an employment contract or offer of highly qualified employment lasting at least one year;
  • no less than one and a half times the average gross salary in Sweden, before taxes.

Employers are required to provide:

  • proof that the position was advertised in Sweden, the EU/EES, and Switzerland for at least ten days;
  • a complete offer of employment with terms that are on par with Swedish collective agreements or terms that are standard to the position being filled.

Sweden sets an annual salary threshold that EU Blue Card holders must receive in order to qualify as a highly skilled worker. Although the amount is subject to change annually, as of 2019 the amount was SEK 51,900 (5,900 USD).

ICT Permit

An ICT Permit is for expats who work for a company outside the EU and are transferring to the Swedish branch of that company. Only non-EU residents need to apply. This permit only applies to employees in managerial or specialist positions.

Like the EU Blue Card, eligibility for the ICT Permit requires documentation both from you and your employer.

To be eligible for the ICT Permit you must

  • have a valid passport;
  • have served as a manager, specialist, or trainee for more than 90 days at the company in Sweden;
  • have the professional qualifications and experience required for the assignment as a manager or specialist, or have the training required for a trainee position;
  • have an employment contract from your home country;
  • have been employed for at least three months without interruption at the time of the relocation within the company;
  • be able to move to a non-EU country, but stay within your own company, or a company within the same industry;
  • be able to verify the qualification to practice your profession in Sweden if it concerns a regulated profession.

Your employer must

  • create an employment offer;
  • offer compensation that is at least on the same level as the Swedish collective agreements or what is customary in the profession or industry;
  • offer terms of employment that are at least on the same level as for employees who are posted in Sweden;
  • offer an employment that gives you the possibility to support yourself;
  • create an employment offer that includes
    • employer’s name and address;
    • when the employment outside the EEU began;
    • the city where the work/training will take place;
    • brief description of the employee’s duties;
    • salary and other payroll benefits;
    • the employee’s professional designation or job title (not applicable to trainees).

Like the regular work visa, an EU Blue Card or ICT permit will also cost 2,000 SEK (230 USD). Specialty occupations may be asked to pay an additional 1,000 SEK (115 USD).

A Note about Family Visas

If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen and you are granted a work permit, your partner/spouse and children are allowed to join you. However, they will need to apply for their own residence permits. This can be done in tandem with your application or separately.

Business Visas for Sweden

If you plan to visit Sweden temporarily for business purposes, you will need a business visa. This will be a one-time entry Schengen visa, although there are still a few requirements that are Sweden-specific.

To apply for a Swedish business visa, you will need:

  • a valid passport (valid for at least for six months);
  • a Swedish business visa application form;
  • two passport photographs;
  • a resident visa;
  • a bank statement;
  • proof of travel insurance;
  • business references including an invitation from the Swedish company or organization;
  • proof of a Swedish hotel reservation and an airline booking for Sweden.

Self-Employment Visas

As a self-employed person you can work in Sweden for up to three months without a permit. After three months, you will need to obtain a self-employed visa. This is the same for EU/EEA nationals.

Sole Trader

There are a couple of terms to know as a self-employed person in Sweden. The first is Enskild Näringsidkare, which directly translates to sole trader. To be a sole trader, you must start your own individual company (the second term to know, Enskild Firma) with personal liability. You will need to keep track of your accounts carefully, though if you have less than 10 employees you do not need an accountant.

Be aware that, when you become registered in Sweden, you are required to pay tax on your income from all other countries. Read more about Swedish taxes at our Banks and Taxes in Sweden guide.

Requirements for a Self-Employment Visa in Sweden

The self-employment visa requirements in Sweden are as follows:

  • valid passport
  • significant experience in your field and previous experience of running your own business
  • documented and relevant knowledge of Swedish and/or English
  • proof that you are running the business, that you have the ultimate responsibility for it, and that you own at least half of the business
  • evidence that the business’s services or goods are sold and/or produced in Sweden
  • sufficient funds to support you and, if applicable, your family during the first two years
  • reliable source documentation for your budget
  • established customer contacts and/or a network in Sweden
  • proof that your company, following a two-year probationary period, will have its finances in balance and you have the ability to support yourself and your family, if applicable (income support is calculated according to the Swedish national standard for income support plus housing costs)

You can access the application form here. In addition to meeting the above requirements, you will also need to provide the following documents:

  • copy of your passport including the identity page and pages with stamps and visas
  • bank statements demonstrating sufficient funds to support you and your family for at least two years
    • 200,000 SEK for one person (22,800 USD)
    • 100,000 SEK for a spouse (11,400 USD)
    • 50,000 SEK for each child (5,700 USD)
    • bank statements demonstrating funds to support the business
    • contract of sale if you have bought an office space
    • contracts with customers and suppliers
    • annual accounting statements of the last two years if the business has been in operation for several years
    • balance sheet and income report for the current financial year
    • course certificate or other evidence that you speak Swedish and/or English
    • certificates to substantiate your educational background
    • certificates from previous employers
    • certificate of registration for companies you own or have owned outside of Sweden

If you are applying for the visa for the first time, you will need to start the process by submitting everything to the Swedish embassy or consulate in your country of origin. The visa cost will be the same as a regular work permit: 2,000 SEK (200 USD). The wait time, however, will be about 10–15 months.

After You Receive Your Self-Employment Visa

Your self-employment visa should be valid for two years, unless you stated you needed a shorter duration. After the two years, the migration agency will need to verify the following:

  • applicant is still able to support themselves and their dependents;
  • applicant is running the company in accordance to their reported business plan;
  • company is registered with the Swedish Companies Registration Office (Bolagsverket);
  • business permits (if needed) are current;
  • applicant is living in Sweden and proof that the business is being run from Sweden.

If you are granted a self-employed visa, you may use it to bring your family to Sweden with you. They must apply for their own visas and the duration of their stay will be the same as your self-employed permit.

Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

Learning how to become a permanent or temporary resident in Sweden differs depending on your country of origin. If you are an EU citizen, you have a right of residence and do not need a residence permit. However, EU citizens should still register themselves with the Swedish Tax Agency as having moved to Sweden. This will enable you to get a personnummer, which you need if you are living in Sweden long-term.

Fellow Scandinavian citizens—nationals from Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland—do not need a permit of any kind and can come and go as they please, just like during the time of the Vikings.

Expats arriving from non-EU/EEA countries must have a job in order to live in Sweden. As noted earlier, this requires securing a job and work permit before arriving in Sweden.

Temporary Resident Permit: Requirements and Fees

In order to complete an application for a temporary residence permit as a non-EU citizen, you will need to present the following documents:

  • passport;
  • Swedish job offer;
  • salary offering;
  • proof of health and life insurance and social security as offered by employer.

Temporary residence gives you the right to temporarily live and work in Sweden. You will be able to renew it every year depending on the conditions of your permit, but note that this is not guaranteed. If you change jobs while in Sweden, you will need to update this status on your residence permit.

How to get Permanent Residency in Sweden

To get permanent residency in Sweden, you must have been living in the country continuously for five years. EU citizens will be granted this residency at the end of the five years, even if some of that time was spent being unemployed. Non-EU citizens will need to prove that they were employed during the full five years (even if it is self-employment) and that they could support themselves and their families.

The Benefits of Permanent Residency in Sweden

Some of the benefits of having a permanent residence in Sweden are obvious. For starters, you will no longer be required to renew your permit in order to live and work in Sweden. You can also change jobs freely without having to also change your residence permit.

Other benefits include family members being allowed to join you in Sweden under Swedish family reunification laws. Under a temporary Swedish visa, family members may join you, but they will be required to apply for their own visa.

Keep in mind that permanent residence does not mean citizenship. If you leave Sweden for a long period of time, your permanent residence will be revoked. This time could be anywhere from two to six years depending on your specific permit. Likewise, if you commit a serious crime you will also risk deportation and having the permit revoked.

Permanent Residence Visa Requirements for Sweden

As stated before, EU citizens will automatically be granted permanent residency after five continuous years living in Sweden. Non-EU citizens must meet the following requirements:

  • They must have lived in Sweden continuously for five years.
  • They must have had a valid residence permit for five years.
  • They must have been able to support themselves and their family.

Further, the residence permit you were granted must have been with the intent to live and work in Sweden for a substantial period of time. If you moved to Sweden as a student or as a temporary worker such as an au pair, you will not qualify for permanent residency.

Permanent Resident Application in Sweden

To apply for permanent residence, you will need to fill out a form called ansökan om ställning som varaktigt bosatt, number 138011. This is only available in Swedish. You will need to submit this to the Swedish Migration Agency either electronically or in person.

Required documents include:

  • copy of valid travel document
  • documents that demonstrate how you have supported yourself and your family over the previous five years (for example, certificates of employment, statements of your declared income, certificates showing your pension, or evidence of the assets you have in the bank)

The fee for permanent residence in Sweden is 1,000 SEK (115 USD). Applicants who are exempt from paying are family members of Nordic citizens, EU citizens and their family members, and citizens of Switzerland.

Spouse and Family Visas in Sweden

If you are married, partnered, or the child of a Swedish resident, you may apply for a residence visa. For spouses and partnered people (meaning you are not legally married but have been living in a “marriage-like” relationship for a significant period of time), the following is Sweden’s spouse/fiancé visa process.

You must fill out the form online, but before you do, be sure you meet the following requirements:

  • You and the person you are moving to in Sweden must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You will need to be able to pay the application fee by Visa or MasterCard.
  • You will need to be able to scan or photocopy the documents that are to be attached.

You will also need to submit the following documents:

  • valid passport
  • if you are married:
    • population registration certificate, tenancy agreement or proof of purchase for your accommodation, or other document that shows you have shared accommodation
    • a document showing that you have been living together, for example, a tenancy agreement on which both of your names appear, or previous bills showing your name and address
    • if you are expecting a child:
    • pregnancy certificate
    • if you are bringing children who are under 18 years of age:
    • copies of the child’s passport that show personal details, photo, signature if applicable, passport number, country of issue, period of validity, and whether the child has permission to live in countries other than their country of origin
    • the child’s birth certificate or a birth certificate from one of the parents
    • consent from the other custodian that the child may move to Sweden with you, if this person is not accompanying you to Sweden
    • a court decision if you have sole custody, or death certificate if the other parent is deceased
    • adoption papers if the child is adopted

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