Your rights as a refugee in Sweden

On the following page, you will find information regarding living in Sweden as a quota refugee, what legal rights you have and the stipulations regarding your permanent residency.


  • Your permanent residence permit gives you the right to live in Sweden indefinitely. The permit gives you both rights and responsibilities.
  • You need to be proactive in finding the public services and support that are offered.
  • If you moved to Sweden without family members, you have the right to be reunited with your family by applying for family reunification. Family reunification applies to spouses, registered partners, cohabitants and children under the age of 18. It is beneficial for you to apply within 3 months from when you were granted a residence permit in Sweden.
  • Your refugee status and residence permit can be revoked if you travel back to your home country. You have the right to travel and move freely within Sweden. When travelling outside Sweden, a valid travel document is required and some countries require a visa.

Your rights

When you arrive in Sweden, you will have a permanent residence permit. All quota refugees are given this permit. It gives you the same rights and responsibilities as other Swedish residents. You need to actively stay informed about your rights in Sweden.


You have the right to work and to make your own decisions about how you want to live your life in Sweden. For example, you have the right to choose your professional field and apply for jobs you want to do.

It is not always easy for newcomers in Sweden to enter the labour market. Education is one way of increasing your chances of getting a job. If you already have experience and qualifications within a field or profession, you may need to have your qualifications evaluated. You may also need to supplement your education in order to continue working in this field in Sweden.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find work within your own profession. It may then be necessary to try a new job in a different field.

The right to vote

Elections are held every four years in Sweden to decide which parties will rule the Riksdag (parliament), the regions and the municipalities. When you have lived in Sweden for three years, you have the right to vote in regional and municipal elections.

Regions are responsible for matters such as healthcare, dental care and public transport. Municipalities make decisions about, among other things, schools, care for the elderly, housing and construction.

You must be a Swedish citizen to vote in the general election (riksdagsval).

The Parliament house in Stockholm.

Photo: Swedish Migration Agency/Björn Bjarnesjö

Travel within and outside Sweden

You have the right to travel freely within Sweden. As a permanent resident of Sweden, you can travel to most countries in Europe without a visa, as long as you have a valid travel document or alien's passport. In order to travel to other countries, you need a valid passport and in some cases a visa.

Your permanent residence permit in Sweden does not entitle you to a Swedish passport. You must be a Swedish citizen to apply for a passport.

Read more about alien passports and travel documents and how to apply.

You may be away from Sweden for up to one year without losing your residence permit. If you are away for longer than a year or if you plan to settle in another country, the Swedish Migration Agency can revoke your residence permit. You can be away from Sweden for up to two years without losing your permit, if you notify the Swedish Migration Agency.

Read more about what applies if you want to travel outside Sweden.

A map of the EU

Right to family reunification

If you have a permanent residence permit, you have the right to bring your family here. If you are married, have a registered partner or cohabitant, or children under the age of 18 who do not live in Sweden with you, they may apply for a residence permit to move to you in Sweden. If you are under the age of 18, your parents may apply. This is called family reunification.

Your family member can apply for family reunification when you have received a residence permit. The family member must fill in an application form and submit it to the Swedish Migration Agency. The person can do this via the Swedish Migration Agency's website or by requesting a paper application form from UNHCR and then handing it in at one of Sweden's missions abroad, for example, an embassy or consulate. The family member must be able to get to an embassy or consulate to conduct an interview with representatives of the Swedish Migration Agency and, in connection with this, be able to prove their identity by showing their home country's passport.

To apply for family reunification within three months

An application for family reunification should be made within three months from the time you received your residence permit in Sweden. The application should be made as soon as possible, because the processing of family reunification cases takes a long time. If the application is submitted later than three months after you were received a residence permit in Sweden, you may have to meet certain requirements. These requirements include having a high enough income to support your family and that your apartment is big enough to accommodate you and your family members.

Read more about how to apply for family reunification:

Moving to someone in Sweden

Family reunification


You may apply for Swedish citizenship after you have lived in Sweden for a certain period of time. In order to apply for Swedish citizenship, you need to meet certain requirements. You must, among other things, prove your identity and have lived an orderly life in Sweden.

The Swedish Migration Agency collects information from other authorities about whether you have debts or have committed crimes in Sweden. The Swedish Migration Agency is the authority responsible for receiving, processing and making decisions about applications for Swedish citizenship.

Your permanent residence permit and protection status can be revoked

You have been given your protection status and residence permit because you need protection. According to Swedish law, you are no longer a refugee if you use protection from your home country. Examples of this are if you have obtained a passport from, or travelled to, your home country. The Swedish Migration Agency may then consider whether your protection status and your residence permit should be revoked. The same applies if you have provided false information about who you are or if you have committed serious crimes.

Read more about the revoca­tion of protec­tion status

Topics to discuss

  • Do you feel that you understand what rights you have in Sweden?
  • What do you think about the Swedish system, in which the government works on behalf of the Swedish people?

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