Scientist forced to leave Sweden over employer’s job ad error

A highly skilled biomedicine professional from Taiwan has been forced to leave Sweden after six years studying and working here, in the latest example of work permit holders being kicked out of the country due to minor problems with their paperwork.

Scientist forced to leave Sweden over employer's job ad error
Jin-yu Lu was asked to return to Taiwan after six years studying and working in Sweden. Photo: Private

Jin-yu Lu spent two years studying at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute and four years working at Swedish companies in the medical sector before her work permit renewal was rejected and she was forced to leave the country.

She got in touch with The Local from Taiwan, where she is currently working out the next steps in her career.

“Sweden is globally recognized for its efforts in technology innovation and humanitarian services. This spirit motivated me to come to Stockholm in 2013,” she explains. 

After her two-year KI Master's in Bio-entrepreneurship, Lu worked first as a project coordinator for pharmaceutical development in clinical trials, before joining a medical technology company in 2018, working on quality assurance for drugs and medical devices for Parkinson's disease.

“The network and relationships I have built in Sweden during the past six years helped me grow up to become who I am today,” she says, also pointing to the investment made in her by the medical technology company which funded Lu's online course online course in biomanufacturing for medicines at Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT.


Lu first became aware of the complexity in Sweden's work permit legislation in 2015, when a friend from her Master's programme received permit rejections from the Migration Agency and the Migration Court due to an administrative error.

And in October 2018, her own work permit renewal was rejected.

There were two reasons, including one which has affected many other non-EU workers: the advert for her job was not posted on the website of the Swedish Public Employment Agency before the decision was made to hire her in 2018.

Once made aware that this would be a problem, her employer posted the advert for the required two weeks while Lu was still in her probation period, and said that after this posting she remained the best qualified candidate.

The second factor in the rejection was that at the time she began working at the second company, she did not have a valid work permit since her application was still being processed.

In May this year, the rejection of Lu's work permit was confirmed by the Migration Court following an appeal, and two months after that she reached the end of the road when the Migration Supreme Court agreed with the previous decisions. She was given the standard time of four weeks to leave Sweden in the court judgment, seen by The Local.

The biomedicine professional has now returned to her home country, from where she is in the process of reapplying for a work permit. The new application was submitted in mid-October.

She says she was “surprised, confused and disappointed” by the rejection. “My boyfriend and cat are living in our apartment in Stockholm. I feel sad to be away from them because of this migration issue,” she says.

Her company supported her throughout the long process of appeals from 2018 to 2019, helping her understand the decision letters (written in Swedish only), and providing her with help from two lawyers.

“I believe they tried the best they could to keep me [in Sweden],” she says.

Her current plan is to return to work in Sweden if possible, but her experience demonstrates how the bureaucracy of the Swedish system can send skilled professionals to other countries, and she says she is open to other opportunities outside Sweden.

After leaving Sweden, Lu took a course in clinical vaccine development at the University of Oxford in the UK, and at the start of November she was admitted to another course at the prestigious institution, this time in medical statistics for clinical trials, which will begin in Oxford from early December.

“This leads to alternative career plans, while I am still waiting abroad for the Swedish Migration Agency's decision,” she notes.

While she says she would be happy to return to Sweden if given the opportunity, she is stunned that she has been admitted to the university after being forced to stop working in Sweden.

“Looking from a long-term perspective, I feel this experience is a critical turning point. When one door closes, another opens,” she comments.

“Both in Stockholm and Oxford, I have been inspired by many people from various countries who are also working far away from their hometowns to improve human health. Politics for immigration may be complicated, but opportunities for medical innovation must not be compromised.”

Thank you for reading this article. Which issue that affects foreigners in Sweden should The Local write about next? If you have feedback, questions or ideas, please get in touch.

Member comments

  1. Hello,
    Why you are insisting that is something is wrong with Migrationsverket. It is not to blame Migrationsverket, you should blame employer. In most cases employer and employee agree on employment before announce. Both employee and employer in such cases are trying to bypass the law. There was a reason for law, having announced employment case in the Swedish Public Employment Agency. It is because people make sure all employment announcements are accessible to them and they do not miss them. Employer can announce the employment to any other websites, etc.

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For members


EXPLAINED: How do you apply for Sweden’s new ‘talent visa’?

From June 1st, non-EU citizens can apply to come to Sweden on the new talent visa or "resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons". These are the latest details on how to apply.

EXPLAINED: How do you apply for Sweden's new 'talent visa'?

Sweden’s “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness” was voted through parliament in April as part of a set of changes to the country’s new work laws in April.

The visa was brought in as part of the January Agreement between the economically liberal Centre and Liberal Parties and the Social Democrat government. 

The basic form for the new talent visa was published when parliament voted it through: The visa allows non-EU citizens with a higher-level degree to apply for a visa of between three to nine months, which they can then use to stay in Sweden while they look for work or research setting up a new business.  

But the Migration Agency on June 1st published the details of what exact educational requirements are required to be eligible for the new visa, how much money applicants need to show they have to support themselves, and how and where to apply. They also published the form that needs to be filled in

What counts as an advanced-level degree and how do I prove it? 

The bar is set pretty low. To be eligible for the talent visa, applicants need to have a degree corresponding to at least a 60-credit Master’s degree, a 120-credit Master’s degree, a professional degree worth 60-330 credits, or a postgraduate/PhD-level degree.

You need to send copies of any examination certificates along with your application, as well as copies of the official transcript of your academic record, that shows the courses included in your education. 

If these documents are in a language other than English, French, Spanish, German, or a Nordic language, they have to be translated into Swedish or one of the above languages by an authorized translator.

You also need to print out, sign, scan, and send a letter of consent to the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), allowing them to contact the educational institutions where you studied for your higher-level degree.

What financial assets do I need to show and how do I prove them? 

You must need to show that you have enough money (or a source of regular income) to support yourself during the time that you will be in Sweden, as well as enough to pay for your journey home. The Migration Agency judges that you need 13,000 kronor per month, so you need a lump sum of 117,000 kronor (€12,000). 

Source: Migration Agency

To prove that you can support yourself, you must either submit copies of your bank statements (plus a translated version if necessary). If you have another source of regular funding, you can explain in the ‘other’ box on what you intend, and enclose documents to support this.

What insurance do you need? 

You need to confirm that you have signed a comprehensive health insurance on the form, and also name the insurance company and the dates between which the insurance policy is valid. 

The insurance needs to cover the costs of emergency and other medical care, hospitalisation, dental care, and also the cost of repatriation for medical reasons. You need to enclose a copy of a document setting out the terms of your insurance policy. 

Source: Migration Agency

What do you need to write about your plans for Sweden? 

According to the Migration Agency, the visa is for people living outside the EU who “plan to seek employment or explore the possibilities for starting [their] own business”, but the form gives few guidelines as to what will count. 

In the form, there is a space for a few sentences in which you can say what sort of business you plan to start, or which sort of job you intend to look for, as well as whether you intend to leave Sweden, or apply for residency in another way if you fail to secure a job. 

Carl Bexelius, the Migration Agency’s Head of Legal Affairs, said that there was no requirement in the legislation that those with the new talent visa seek jobs that require them to be highly qualified. 

“The crucial part is that you have you are talented in a legal sense, that you have the appropriate education to qualify. If they find work, they can then apply for for a work permit, but that work does not need to require high qualifications.”

Other requirements? 

The other requirement is to have a passport that is valid for the full period in which you will be in Sweden. In the application you need to send copies of all the pages that show your personal data, photo, signature, passport number, issuing country, period of validity, entry stamps, and also if you have permission to live in countries other than your country of origin. 

How to apply? 

You need to send the application form, with the attached documents to the Swedish embassy or consulate-general in your country of residence, or, if that is not possible, at the embassy or consulate-general in the closest country. 

You should contact the embassy for information before applying, and to learn how large an application fee you will need to pay. 

What sort of permit will I get? 

If you get a permit valid for more than three months, you will get a residence permit card which features your fingerprints and a photo.

If you need an entry visa to come to Sweden, you will need to be photographed and have your fingerprints scanned at the Swedish embassy or consulate-general in your country of residence before leaving to come to Sweden.

If you do not need an entry visa, you can apply for a residency card, and have your photo taken and your fingerprints scanned, after your arrival in Sweden. 

What happens if I get a job or start a business while in Sweden? 

If you get a job while in Sweden, you can apply for a work permit from within the country. You cannot start work until the work permit is granted, though (which may not happen until after your talent visa has already expired). 

If you start a business in Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit as a self-employed person. You can start setting up and running your business even before the Migration Agency has made its decision.