Different reasons for seeking a residence permit
A person who wishes to settle in Sweden and who is a citizen of a non-EU country must apply for a residence permit. There are various different reasons for being granted a residence permit in Sweden; examples can include working or studying here, moving to be with a family member or seeking protection from war or persecution.
Obtaining a residence permit in Sweden means having the right to live and reside here. Residence permits can either be permanent or temporary. Permanent residence permits are valid for as long as the holder lives in Sweden and can only be revoked in certain specific cases; e.g. if the holder commits a serious crime or takes up residence in another country. Temporary residence permits are valid for a determined amount of time, but can often be extended if certain requirements are met.
Residence permit as a family member to somebody in Sweden
If a person is a citizen of a country outside of the EU and they want to move to Sweden in order to live with a family member, then they will need a residence permit. In this context, husbands, wives, registered partners and cohabiting partners all count as family members, and so are children under the age of 18. Adult siblings or the parents of adult children are not normally able to get a residence permit as a relative.
The person in Sweden must be a Swedish citizen or somebody who holds either a permanent residence permit or a temporary residence permit with refugee status. There is also a so-called maintenance requirement in place, which means that the person who resides in Sweden must be able to support both him/herself as well as the family members applying for residence permits.
Residence permit as an employee or self-employed person
A person who is moving to Sweden to work must have an employment in Sweden. The position must also offer a salary that makes it possible for the person to support him/herself and his/her family members if they also want to come to Sweden. People moving to Sweden in order to start their own business or who plan on working for longer than three months will also need to have a residence permit. In such cases, the person must be able to demonstrate that he/she can support him/herself and any family members for the first two years.
Residence permits as a visiting student
Those who wish to study in Sweden for longer than three months will need a residence permit. In order to apply for this permit, the student must first have been accepted to a full time course of study in Sweden. The student will also need to demonstrate that he/she can support him/herself during their entire study period. Upper secondary school students and exchange students need to demonstrate that they have allowances for the planned study period.
Residence permits for seeking protection (asylum)
Those who are persecuted or at risk of persecution or inhumane treatment in their country of origin are able to apply for asylum in Sweden. Persons applying for asylum submit their applications to border police once they have entered Sweden, or at one of the Swedish Migration Agency’s application units. Residence permits are granted to those who are refugees in accordance with the UN refugee convention or persons in need of “subsidiary protection" in accordance with joint EU regulations.
Each year a number of refugees are offered the chance to move to Sweden through the Swedish resettlement program. In order to be offered resettlement in Sweden, it is necessary to be registered with the UNHCR, which is the UN’s Refugee Agency.
Residence permits for visiting – or visas
Citizens of countries outside of the EU who want to visit Sweden for a period of more than 90 days are required to have a visitor's permit. Residence permits for visit can apply for a maximum period of up to one year, although they are usually restricted to six months.
Those who want to visit Sweden for periods of less than three months do not need a residence permit, but they may need a visa. A visa allows its holder to temporary enter into and stay in a country for a period of less than 90 days. Only citizens from countries that Sweden or the EU has a visa exemption agreement with can travel to Sweden without a visa.
EU citizens do not need to apply for residence permits
EU citizens have the right to work, study or reside in Sweden without applying for a residence permit. The right for EU members to stay in Sweden without a residence permit is called the right of residence. The right of residence applies to employees, self employed persons, students or those who have sufficient funds to support themselves in Sweden.