How Americans can move to Sweden

How Americans can move to Sweden
Are you moving for love, work, or just the adventure? Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/
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 USA 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.

For any permit application, you will need to prove your identity, usually with your passport.

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. It might include a marriage certificate or copies of rental contracts proving you have previously lived together. For couples who have not previously lived together but plan to do so in Sweden, you must also do an interview.

The person you are moving to also needs to prove that they can support you, by having suitable accommodation and salary. 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 November 2020, the estimate for people moving to a partner was between roughly 8 and 17 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/

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Moving for work

If you are moving to Sweden for a job offer, the crucial thing is that you need the job offer before you arrive in Sweden; non-EU citizens cannot move in order to look for work.

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

A job offer that offers a salary and conditions that both allow you to support yourself (defined as at least 13,000 kronor per month) and are on par with the industry standard. Your employer must also commit to providing several kinds of insurance from the start of your work. 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. Find out more about moving to Sweden for work here.

How long will it take? As of November 2020, the estimate for employees who applied online was between roughly 1 and 9 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.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/

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.

Member comments

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  1. Americans who consider moving to Sweden should know that anti-Americanism is tolerated and green-lighted, even by the government. It is ironic, given that Sweden is easily the most Americanized country in Europe. It is not pervasive, but it can be pernicious. It is marbled through all sectors of Swedish society and is most prevalent among the over 50s— the people who hold power. In the course of 20 years, I have seen Americans (even those with Swedish citizenship) get attacked physically and verbally; be denied salary and healthcare; have their property sabotaged and even confiscated; and of course suffer the chronic, daily burden of being framed an “ugly American”— because of Trump or BLM or guns or Hollywood or climate politics or capitalism or . . .

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