Sweden expects to issue more work permits as labour market recovers

man working in office with computer and phone
Applications for work permits in Sweden this year are expected to exceed earlier predictions after a better-than-expected late pandemic recovery. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
UPDATED: The Swedish Migration Agency has released its new prognosis for the next three years, outlining how many immigration cases it expects to process each year.

In 2019, almost 60,000 work permit applications were submitted – an increase on the year before and a continuation of an upward trend (this doesn’t just include international workers, but also any partners or relatives who were included on the same permit).

Last year this number decreased with the Migration Agency only receiving 46,900 first-time work permit applications, as tighter travel and health and safety restrictions during the pandemic made it harder to move for work.

The agency had originally predicted that it would take until 2023 for work permit application numbers to hit 54,000 per year, but stated in a new report that it now believes this number will be reached this year, citing “continued strong recovery on the labour market”.

The dip in work permit applications in 2020 can also be seen in the Migration Agency’s estimates for work permit extension applications. It expects the number of extension applications to decrease from 38,800 in 2020 to a low point of 30,000 in 2022, with extension applications still under pre-pandemic levels at 35,000 in 2024.

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In terms of citizenship applications, the Migration Agency expects to process 84,000 citizenship applications this year, a decrease of 12,000 on previous estimates. The report explains that this reduction in processed applications is due to hiring the required staff late in 2021, meaning that it did not have the capacity to process applications earlier on in the year. However, it expects that this increase in manpower will bear fruit next year, with an estimated 120,000 citizenship applications set to be processed. 

The agency expects waiting times for asylum and family reunification applications in 2021 to be longer than expected – this is due to changes in migration law which came into effect in July 2021, which has affected waiting times for all types of immigration application this year. 

One unexpected aspect of this law change affects applications for residence permits for newborn children, born in Sweden to non-EU parents with residence permits. As these children are not EU or Swedish citizens, they require a residence permit to live in Sweden.

Under the new law, all applying for residence permits must have valid photo ID – usually meaning a passport or ID card from their country of citizenship. This rule also applies to children. This means newborns may face longer waiting times for residence permits, but note that they still have the same rights to healthcare as everyone else in Sweden.

However, children born in Sweden to parents with Swedish personal numbers are assigned a personal number at birth, so healthcare and preschool applications should not be affected. 

If neither of the child’s parents have a Swedish personal number when the child is born, then parents will have to apply for a residence permit before being able to get a personal number for the child. These children have the same rights to healthcare and preschool education, but parents may have to contact healthcare providers and preschools directly to register children who don’t have personal numbers manually.

Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that children born in Sweden to non-EU parents would not be able to get a personal number until their residence permit had been granted. This is incorrect – children born in Sweden to parents who have Swedish personal numbers will be assigned a personal number at birth.

Are you an international parent trying to get a residence permit for your newborn? Get in touch with The Local’s editorial team at [email protected] if you would like to share your story. We may not be able to reply to everyone, but we read all emails and they help inform our coverage.


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