UPDATED: How Americans can move to Sweden

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UPDATED: How Americans can move to Sweden

Whether you want to move to Sweden for love, work or simply adventure, there are some hurdles to overcome first. Here's a look at the different ways you can move here as a US citizen.


The descriptions below outline the processes for people without EU citizenship, since EU citizens have the option to move to Sweden without a permit or visa.

Although this article specifically outlines the rules for Americans wishing to move to Sweden, the same rules apply for most other non-EU, non-Nordic citizens wishing to move to the country.

For any permit application, you will need to prove your identity, usually with your passport. You will also, as a general rule, need to apply for your work permit or visa from your home country - meaning you can't move to Sweden until your application has been approved.

Moving to a partner or family member

You can get a residence permit to move to a family member in Sweden, which most commonly means a partner or spouse or a child aged under 18, but in exceptional circumstances may include other family members. 


You will need documents proving your relationship, which depend based on what kind of relationship it is. For couples, it might include a marriage certificate or copies of rental contracts proving you have previously lived together. If you haven't previously lived together but plan to do so in Sweden, you must also attend an interview.

The person you are moving to also needs to prove that they can support you, by having suitable accommodation and a large enough salary to support you both. This is the case regardless of any income or assets you as the permit applicant have.

You also pay a fee of 2,000 kronor (1,000 kronor for children under 18) which is refunded if your application is refused. Find out more about permits for moving to a family member here.

How long will it take? As of March 2023, 75 percent of applicants moving to a partner received a decision within 15 months. Factors such as which family member you are moving to, how well you can prove your relationship (including documents showing you have lived together), which country you are from and what your family member's residence status in Sweden is may all affect the processing time.

Photo: Lina Roos/


Moving for work

If you are moving to Sweden for work, the crucial thing is that you need a signed job contract before you arrive in Sweden; non-EU citizens cannot move in order to look for work, unless they apply for a three month talent visa, officially known as a “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness”.

More on that visa and how to apply is available here.

Certain jobs are exempt from the work permit requirement, typically shorter, fixed-term work such as au pairs, researchers, and seasonal workers. 

A job contract must offer a salary and conditions that both allow you to support yourself (defined as at least 13,000 kronor per month as of March 2023, although this will almost certainly go up within the next year as a raise to the salary limit has been approved in parliament), as well as being on par with the industry standard. You must also be able to financially support any family members who will be moving to Sweden with you.

Your employer must also commit to providing several kinds of insurance from the day you start working. Make sure your employment meets all the conditions, otherwise you may run into problems when you try to renew your work permit further down the line

For work permits, it is your employer who starts the permit application process, and you should be contacted by the Swedish Migration Agency after this is done. Then, you submit your documents such as a passport, and the passports of any family members who will be joining you in Sweden, and pay the fee, which varies slightly depending on your profession but is roughly 2,000 kronor.

Family members will also get permits to live and work in Sweden for the same length of time as you, if you can prove that you will be able to support them financially while you are in Sweden. Find out more about moving to Sweden for work here.

How long will it take? As of March 2023, 75 percent of employees who applied online received a response on their application within 13 months. Factors such as which industry you will be working in, whether or not the employer is certified with the Migration Agency, and whether or not the application included all the necessary information all affect the processing time.


Moving for studies

If you want to study in Sweden for longer than 90 days, you need a student permit.

To do this, you will need a place on a course of study in Sweden, which means you need to apply and be accepted. Be aware that there are earlier deadlines for international students than for those in Sweden, in order to give you time to get your paperwork sorted.

As well as proof of your place to study, you need to have paid the tuition fees, and have proof that you can support yourself during your studies, as well as proof of health insurance.

You can also apply for permits for any family members who will join you in Sweden while you study, as long as you can provide proof of their identity and that you have sufficient funds to support yourselves. Find out more about moving to Sweden for studies here.

Originally published in November 2020. Updated in March 2023.


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