Facts on residence permits and migration to Sweden

A person who wants to take up permanent residence in Sweden, and who is a citizen of a country outside of the EU must apply for a residence permit.

The application can be made online. It can also be submitted to a Swedish embassy or at a consulate in the applicant's homeland, or from their country of residence. When the application is made, the reason for applying is stated. The permit process must be completed before entering Sweden.

The various grounds to grant a residence permit are:

Residence permit based on family ties

People with family ties to a person already living in Sweden would be their husband/wife/registered partner or cohabiting partner as well as any children under the age of 18. Adult siblings or parents of adult children are not normally eligible residence permits due to family ties. In 2017, a total of 48,046 permits were granted due to family ties.

Residence permit based on employment and self-employed persons

An employee must be able to show proof of an offered position from a Swedish employer. This employment offer must be attached to the application for a residence permit based on employment. The salary must be no less than SEK 13,000 per month before tax. In 2017, a total of 32,294 permits were granted based on employment. The figures also include relatives of employees and self-employed persons. 

Residence permit for a visiting student

The studies must take place at a university or other higher education institution. The student must pay for the placement, and show that he/she is able to provide for himself/herself throughout the entire study period, currently this means SEK 8,190 per month. In 2017, a total of 13,685 residence permits for visiting students. The figures also include relatives of visiting students.

Residence permit for people seeking protection (asylum)

Everyone has the right to seek asylum, it is a human right. The Swedish Migration Agency must assess whether the person seeking protection has the right to a residence permit in accordance with the Swedish Aliens Act. In 2017, a total of 31,685 people were granted protection in Sweden after seeking asylum.

In addition, Sweden granted permits for 4,846 quota refugees to come to the country as part of the annual refugee quota.

Citizens of the EU do not need a residence permit

An EU citizen may live and work in Sweden without applying for any permits. EU citizens who can show that their maintenance is secure through their own means or employment have the right to take up permanent residence in Sweden. Since May 2014, EU citizens no longer need to register with the Migration Agency. In 2013, a total of 20,712 EU citizens were registered as new migrants in Sweden.

Visitor's permit – or entry visa

If a foreigner wishes to visit Sweden for a period shorter than three months, no residence permit is necessary. However, an entry visa may be needed. Only citizens of countries with which Sweden or the EU have a visa waiver agreement may enter Sweden without a visa. In 2017 220,448 entry visas were granted. Most entry visa applications are handled by the Swedish embassies all over the world.

Countries whose citizens require a visaexternal link, opens in new window

The migration process is the same for all migrants, with the exception of EU citizens.

The Migration process.

(click to enlarge the image)

The same process regardless of the reason for applying

The asylum-seeker may not be able to choose what country they end up in, but from the moment a person hands in an application, the process is the same whether they are applying for asylum or for a permit to come as an employee, family member or student. This image is an attempt to visualise what happens to an application from start to finish, and the Swedish Migration Agency aim of living up to its vision; “Sweden – a nation open for the possibilities of global migration”.

Last updated: 2018-01-11

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If you wish to ask the Migration Agency a question you can find our contact details under the heading Contact us.