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IMMIGRATION

Card, status, or permit? The different types of permanent residence document in Sweden

There are multiple types of permanent residence documents in Sweden, which can lead to confusion about residency status. The application processes and rights granted depend on your citizenship and what you're doing in Sweden.

Sweden's law on residence permits (uppehåstillstånd)
Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

Certificate of permanent right of residence (Intyg om permanent uppehållsrätt)

For EU/EEA citizens

This applies to EU or EEA citizens who have lived in Sweden with right of residence under EU law for at least five years. EU/EEA citizens have right of residence in Sweden if they work, study, run their own business or have sufficient funds to support themselves, and their family members also have right of residence as long as they live together in Sweden. After five years, they automatically gain permanent right of residence.

A certificate of permanent residence is a document which shows that the holder has permanent right of residence. This certificate documents the residency status the holder already has, rather than granting a new residency status. It’s not a necessity in Sweden, because your EU citizenship is enough to grant you permanent right of residence after five years, but it may be used when contacting other national authorities, for example. It can be ordered from the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) and is free. Certificates of permanent right of residence can only be issued to those who have (or had) right of residence as EU/EEA citizens.

You can lose your permanent right of residence if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Permanent residence card (Permanent uppehållskort)

For non-EU/EEA citizens living with a non-Swedish EU/EEA citizen

Permanent residence cards apply to non-EU/EEA citizens (also referred to as third country citizens) who have lived in Sweden continuously for at least five years together with an EU/EEA citizen who has right of residence (discussed above). Swedes are not usually considered EU/EEA citizens in this context, but Swedes who have recently lived in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland may qualify.

A permanent residence card shows that a non-EU/EEA citizen has the permanent right to live and work in Sweden through living with an EU/EEA citizen in Sweden for over five years. It is free to apply for. While the EU/EEA family member does not need to apply for the permanent residence certificate, the non-EU/EEA member does need to apply for the card, because they are more likely to need to prove their right of residence.

You can lose your permanent residence card if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Note: a permanent residence card (permanent uppehållskort) is not the same as a permanent residence permit card (permanent uppehållstillståndskort), discussed below.

Permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd/PUT) and permanent residence permit card (Permanent uppehållstillståndskort/PUT-kort)

For EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens

This applies to non-EU/EEA citizens, as well as EU/EEA citizens who do not qualify for right of residence under EU rules, but qualify for a residence permit under Swedish rules (e.g. if they are not working, studying or able to support themselves, but moved to Sweden as a family member of a Swedish citizen).

Permanent residence permits can be granted to both EU and non-EU citizens. A permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd) is a permit granted by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) under Swedish law, rather than under EU law.

There are different permits for workers, students, family members and researchers, and there are certain specific criteria that must be met (for example, workers must earn above a salary threshold) as well as a fee to pay.

If the permit is granted, the applicant will receive a residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort/UT-kort). After between two or four years depending on your type of permit, residence permit holders can apply for a permanent residence permit card.

In most cases, you will have to apply for a work permit if you also wish to work, but check with the Swedish Migration Agency if you are unsure.

Although described as a permanent residence permit, this residence permit can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than one year. If you inform the Swedish Migration Agency before you depart, you can be away from Sweden for up to two years before losing your residence permit. 

Permanent residence status (permanent uppehållsstatus) and residence status (uppehållsstatus)

For British citizens and their family members who moved before the Brexit transition period ended

This only applies to British citizens after Brexit, and it is available to those Brits and their close family members who moved to Sweden and were resident under EU law (ie. were working, studying, or had the means to support themselves) before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020.

Brits and their family members who fulfil the requirements were until December 31st 2021 able to apply for either residence status or permanent residence status, depending on how long they have been living in Sweden. Those who have lived in Sweden for at least five years with EU right of residence can receive permanent residence status; those who have lived in Sweden a shorter time receive temporary residence status which can be upgraded to permanent once they reach the five-year mark. The post-Brexit residence status grants them the same rights they had under EU law regarding living and working in Sweden, meaning that they do not need to meet the stricter requirements for permanent residence permit holders.

You lose the permanent residence status if you are away from Sweden for five years or more.

Swedish citizenship

The only type of residence document which is truly permanent – as in, it cannot be revoked – is Swedish citizenship. The rules for becoming a Swedish citizen vary somewhat depending on whether you are a Nordic, EU or non-EU citizen, but as a general rule you must have lived in Sweden for five consecutive years (or three if you live with a Swedish partner), have lived an “orderly” life during your time in Sweden (no large debts or crimes), be over 18 and be able to verify your identity. 

Member comments

  1. what if you want to retire here permanently? I.e own a property and can support yourself (pension, own funds etc.)

    1. I am also interested in an answer to this question as I will be in the same situation (able to support myself and spouse from retirement funds) when I retire.

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For members

WORK PERMITS

How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

It can now take about six months to get a work permit in Sweden, and a year for an extension. Here's how you can get on the fast track.

How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

How long does it normally take to get a permit to work in Sweden? 

According to the calculator on the Migration Agency’s website, 75 percent of first work permit applications are completed within three months, and 75 percent of work permit extensions are completed within 14 months. 

These numbers, though, are only for people in non-risk industries. If you are applying for a job in the cleaning, building, hotel and restaurant, or car repair industries — all of which are seen as high risk by the agency — applications can take much longer to be approved. 

For these industries, the calculator suggests a long 12-month wait for a first application and a 17-month wait for an extension. 

This is because of the higher number of unscrupulous employers in these industries who do not pay foreign workers their promised salaries, or do not fulfil other requirements in their work permit applications, such as offering adequate insurance and other benefits. 

So how do you get on the fast track for a permit? 

There are two ways to get your permit more rapidly: the so-called “certified process” and the EU’s Blue Card scheme for highly skilled employees. 

What is the certified process?

The certified process was brought in back in 2011 by the Moderate-led Alliance government to help reduce the then 12-month wait for work permits.

Under the process, bigger, more reputable Swedish companies and trusted intermediaries handling other applications for clients, such as the major international accounting firms, can become so-called “certified operators”, putting the work permit applications they handle for employees on a fast track, with much quicker processing times. 

The certified operator or the certified intermediary is then responsible for making sure applications are ‘ready for decision’, meaning the agency does not need to spend as much time on them. 
You can find answers to the most common questions about the certified process on the Migration Agency’s website

How much quicker can a decision be under the certified process? 
Under the agreement between certified employers and the Migration Agency, it should take just two weeks to process a fresh work permit application, and four weeks to get an extension. 
Unfortunately, the agency is currently taking much longer: between one and three months for a fresh application, and around five to six months for an extension. 
This is still roughly half the time it takes for an employee seeking a permit outside the certified process. 
The Migration Agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in a recent article that in September the average decision had taken 105 days, while over the year as a whole, applications for certified companies had taken 46 days, and those for non-certified companies 120 days. 

How can someone planning to move to Sweden for work take advantage of the certified process? 
Unfortunately, it is very much up to your employer. If you are planning to move to Sweden for work, you should make sure to ask prospective employers if they are certified, or sub-certified through an intermediary firm, and take that into account when deciding which company to take a job with. 
Smaller IT companies are often not certified, as they tend to start off by recruiting from within Sweden or the European Union. 
If you have begun a work permit application with a company that is not certified or sub-certified, then you cannot get onto the fast track even if your employer gets certified while you are waiting for a decision. 
The certified process can also not be used to get a work permit for an employee of a multinational company who is moving to the Swedish office from an office in another country. 
If my employer is certified, what do I need to do?
You will need to sign a document giving power of attorney to the person at your new company who is handling the application, both on behalf of yourself and of any family members you want to bring to Sweden.  
You should also double check the expiry date on your passport and on those of your dependents, and if necessary applying for a new passport before applying, as you can only receive a work permit for the length of time for which you have a valid passport. 

Which companies are certified? 
Initially, only around 20 companies were certified, in recent years the Migration Agency has opened up the scheme to make it easier for companies to get certified, meaning there are now about 100 companies directly certified, and many more sub-certified. 
To get certified, a company needs to have handled at least ten work permit applications for foreign employees over the past 18 months (there are exceptions for startups), and also to have a record of meeting the demands for work and residency permits.  
The company also needs to have a recurring need to hire from outside the EU, with at least ten applications expected a year. 
The Migration Agency is reluctant to certify or sub-certify companies working in industries where it judges there is a high risk of non-compliance with the terms of work permits, such as the building industry, the hotel and restaurant industry, the retail industry, and agriculture and forestry. 
Most of the bigger Swedish firms that rely on foreign expertise, for example Ericsson, are certified. 
The biggest intermediaries through whom companies can become sub-certified are the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and Vialto (a spin-off from PwC), and the specialist relocation firms Human Entrance, and Alpha Relocation. Bråthe estimates that these six together control around 60 percent of the market. Other players include K2 Corporate Mobility, Key Relocation, Nordic Relocation, and some of the big corporate law firms operating in Sweden, such as Ving and Bird & Bird. 

What is the EU Blue Card, how can I get one, and how can it help speed up the work permit process? 
Sweden’s relatively liberal system for work permits, together with the certification system, has meant that in recent years there has been scant demand for the EU Blue Card. 
The idea for the Blue Card originally sprung from the Brussels think-tank Bruegel, and was written into EU law in August 2012. The idea was to mimic the US system of granting workers a card giving full employment rights and expedited permanent residency. Unlike with the US Green Card, applicants must earn a salary that is at least 1.5 times as high as the average in the country where they are applying.
Germany is by far the largest granter of EU blue cards, divvying out nearly 90 percent of the coveted cards, followed by France (3.6 percent), Poland (3.2 percent) and Luxembourg (3 percent).

How can I qualify for a Blue Card?

The card is granted to anyone who has an accredited university degree (you need 180 university credits or högskolepoäng in Sweden’s system), and you need to be offered a job paying at least one and a half times the average Swedish salary (about 55,000 kronor a month).

How long does a blue card take to get after application in Sweden? 

According to the Migration Agency, a Blue Card application is always handled within 90 days, with the card then sent to the embassy or consulate named in the application.

In Sweden ,it is only really worth applying for a Blue Card if you are applying to work at a company that is not certified and are facing a long processing time.

EU Blue Cards are issued for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. 

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