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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)
What do the different residence documents mean for your rights? 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

EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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