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RESIDENCE PERMITS

IN NUMBERS: How long are waiting times at Sweden’s Migration Agency?

Sweden's Migration Agency have notoriously long waiting times for citizenship applications, work permits and residence permits. So, how long should you expect to wait?

IN NUMBERS: How long are waiting times at Sweden's Migration Agency?
Photo: Adam Wrafter/TT

Sweden’s Migration Agency has a calculator for application waiting times, where users can input information into a series of drop-down menus to receive an estimated waiting time on a number of issues.

These estimates are all based on online applications where the Migration Agency has not asked applicants to provide further information.

It is important to note that the result produced by the calculator states the length of time 75 percent of applicants for similar cases waited, with no information on how much longer the remaining 25 percent of applicants waited before receiving a result.

These figures also don’t include waiting times for Swedish authorities abroad (such as consulates or embassies) so if your application requires such a visit, this could lengthen the processing time of your application.

Work in Sweden

Waiting times for work permits in Sweden can vary depending on the branch you’re working in, whether you apply online or via post, and if you are applying for the first time or extending a permit.

For those applying for the first time online, as employees rather than self-employed, waiting times can range from 3-12 months, depending on the branch they are applying for.

Extension applications have longer waiting times, going up to five months for branches with a three-month wait for first-time applications, and 17 months for branches with a 12-month wait for first-time applications.

The situation is worse for the self-employed. People in this category making a first-time application online can expect to wait 25 months, going up to 27 months for applying to extend a work permit.

Live with someone in Sweden

Waiting times for moving to live with someone in Sweden are also complicated to calculate, with the length of the estimated wait affected by your nationality, the nationality of the person you’re planning to move to, how they are related to you and even if you lived with the family member prior to moving to Sweden.

In the case of an EU citizen moving to a Swedish husband, wife or partner, expect to wait 18 months if you did not live with the family member before moving to Sweden, or 16 months if you lived together for two years or more before moving.

Non-EU citizens moving to a Swedish partner can expect to wait 18 months if the couple did not live together before moving to Sweden, or 13 months if they lived together for two years or more and can provide documentation to prove it.

Unlike work permit applications, those applying for extensions to their applications to live with someone in Sweden can expect a shorter wait than those applying for the first time – they can expect a wait of just eight months, if they are still living with the same person they were living with when they first applied for a permit.

Study

Prospective students have a relatively short wait compared to other groups – just three months for students applying for the first time or eight months for extension applications.

Doctoral students can also expect a three-month wait for first-time applicants, rising to six months for extension applications or ten months if applying for permanent residency as doctoral students.

Visit

Visas for visiting Sweden have some of the shortest waiting times of all: visas for visits lasting 90 days or less to the Schengen area (including Sweden) are made within just 15 days, extending to 45 days in certain circumstances.

Applications for visas to visit Sweden for more than 90 days have an expected waiting time of 3 months if applying outside of Sweden or 4 months if applying within the country.

Citizenship

Citizenship applicants can currently expect the longest wait of any applicant to the Migration Agency: applications for citizenship are complete within 39 months in 75 percent of cases, whereas notifications of citizenship (citizenship applications for Nordic citizens who have lived in Sweden for at least five years) take just eight months.

Residence card for EU-members’ family

Residence cards for family members of EU citizens with the right of residence in Sweden also have short waiting times in comparison to other applications: this group can expect to wait just six months before receiving a result.

Other cases

Is your case not listed in this article? Have a look at the Migration Agency’s calculator here and input your specific circumstances to find out how long the agency expects to process your case.

If your application has taken six months or more, you can send in a written request that the Swedish Migration Agency conclude your case. Once you’ve sent this request, the agency has four weeks to either conclude your case or refuse your request – meaning they may just say they need more time and you’ll be forced to just wait it out.

You can also only send a request for conclusion once per case, so you can’t ask for them to conclude your case again if they refused to do so the first time.

If you want to request a conclusion, you have to do so in writing. You can use this form, which you then fill out and send to the Migration Agency either digitally or by post.

Be aware though that using this service does, ultimately, lengthen waiting times for other applications, as Migration Agency caseworkers’ time will be used processing these applications instead of work permits, citizenship applications and residence permits, so keep that in mind and consider avoiding sending a request if you are willing and able to wait it out until the agency gets back to you in their own time.

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RESIDENCE PERMITS

What rights do the Sweden Democrats want to take away from foreigners?

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are on the cusp of power following the right-wing bloc's victory in Sweden's parliamentary election. What rights and benefits do they want to take away from foreigners in Sweden?

What rights do the Sweden Democrats want to take away from foreigners?

The right to some social security benefits

In a document on the party’s website, titled Gör din plikt, kräv din rätt – en uppvärdering av medborgarskap (Do your duty, demand your rights – an appraisal of citizenship), the Sweden Democrats outline their plans for limiting residence-based social security benefits to Swedish citizens and EU citizens only.

The document is dated April 2021, but appears to have been uploaded to the party’s website in July 2022, and is still listed under the heading “what we want”.

Benefits will still be available to EU citizens, the document states, due to “certain EU legal conditions where special regulation for Swedish citizens could entail a renegotiation of the European Convention”.

The document further states that “the proposals in the report intend to restrict residence-based social security benefits so they are only available to Swedish citizens, as much as possible”.

Residence-based social security benefits which would no longer be available to non-EU citizens if this proposal were to become law include child benefits, adoption benefits, sickness benefits in the form of a guarantee benefit, housing benefits, disability benefits, nursing benefits, cost compensation benefits, rehabilitation allowance, parental leave pay at minimum or basic levels and dental care benefits.

Note that this proposal would not affect the rights of non-EU citizens to employment-based benefits, such as compensation for injuries sustained at work, income-based maternity or paternity pay, pregnancy pay, income-related unemployment or sick pay, or pay for taking care of a sick child (VAB).

The Local reached out to the Sweden Democrats for comment on this document, as well as to ask whether it is still current. A press officer informed us that the party “will not be participating at this time”.

Permanent residence permits

The Sweden Democrats also want to abolish permanent residence permits, arguing in a separate document on their website, titled En bättre framtid för Sverige (A better future for Sweden), that “the institution of permanent residence permits clashes with the idea of increasing the value of citizenship”.

“Under the current rules, the difference between the two institutions is small, and in practice is nothing more than the right to vote,” the document says, arguing that “citizenship has become an upgraded version of a permanent residence permit.”

“In order to preserve the sanctity of citizenship, the right of foreigners to stay in Sweden should never be allowed to approach that of Swedish citizens,” it reads.

Instead of granting permanent residence permits after a certain amount of time in the country (currently at least three years, in most cases four), the Sweden Democrats propose phasing them out completely in favour of “temporary residence permits of varying length”.

The party addresses the high level of resources which would be necessary if the Migration Agency were tasked with renewing temporary residence permits in perpetuity, but do not believe it would cause issues, stating that “the Migration Agency’s experiences with permit extension cases under the temporary law have shown good possibilities of fast and efficient procedures, especially in many similar cases”.

Current waiting times for temporary residence permit renewal at time of writing range from five months to 27 months, depending on the type of permit.

The right to citizenship after five years

Under current rules, immigrants to Sweden can apply for citizenship after living in the country for five years (three years in some cases). 

The Sweden Democrats believe this is too short, stating in a migration policy document that they want instead to introduce a minimum qualifying period of ten years before immigrants are eligible to apply for citizenship in Sweden.

In addition to this, the party wants to introduce “well-regulated requirements for citizenship applications,” such as “mastery of the Swedish language and knowledge of fundamental facts about Sweden, our society and our history, as well as current laws and rules, responsibilities as well as rights”, which “can and should be confirmed via testing before citizenship can be granted”.

The party wants to further require that prospective applicants include an “explanation that they have understood the responsibilities and duties citizenship entails” in their citizenship application.

Further to this, the party states that “respect for and loyalty to Sweden are a natural part of citizenship” and that “citizens of Sweden should also be part of Sweden and see Sweden as their homeland”.

The right to move to Sweden to be with a family member, in some cases

In the document titled En bättre framtid för Sverige, the Sweden Democrats also suggest that they want to limit the right to residence permits based on family reunification, also known as anhöriginvandring or occasionally a ‘sambo visa’.

In this document, the Sweden Democrats state that “the rules for family reunification should be adapted to the minimum levels under European law. It should therefore only be possible for refugees”.

This would mean that it would no longer be possible for immigrants to be granted a residence permit to move to Sweden to be with a spouse or cohabiting partner who is already living in Sweden, unless that spouse or cohabiting partner was in Sweden as a refugee.

In addition to this, the Sweden Democrats state that only the following family members would be eligible for this type of permit:

  • A foreigner who is the spouse or cohabiting partner of the refugee
  • An underaged unmarried foreigner who is the child of the refugee or the refugee’s spouse or cohabiting partner
  • An underaged unmarried foreigner who is the child of the refugee if the refugee has sole custody of the foreigner, and if the foreigner is financially dependent on the refugee
  • An underaged unmarried foreigner who is the child of the refugee’s spouse or cohabiting partner if the refugee’s spouse or cohabiting partner has sole custody of the foreigner, and if the foreigner is financially dependent on the refugee’s spouse or cohabiting partner

Finally, the Sweden Democrats propose that the relationship between the refugee and the family member must have been established before the refugee entered Sweden, and that the refugee must have been living in Sweden legally for two years to be able to bring their family member to Sweden under this permit.

In the document, the Sweden Democrats state that “Swedish citizens living abroad must have special opportunities to return home with their foreign family members, chiefly regarding to priority in processing and the possibility of applying within Sweden,” although it is not clear whether foreign family members would be able to apply to move to Sweden to live with a Swedish citizen already living in the country.

In addition to this, the Sweden Democrats state in the document that “a residence permit should be rejected for:

  • foreigners who are the spouse or partner of someone who lives in or has been granted a residence permit in Sweden, or
  • foreign children who are unmarried and have a parent who is married to or the partner of someone who is living in or has been granted a residence permit in Sweden, if one of the spouses or partners is under 21 years old”.

The document also states that “residence permits should also be rejected for foreigners who are applying to move to Sweden to live with a relative who is living in Sweden or has been granted a residence permit, for reasons of public order, safety and health”, and finally that “residence permits shall also be denied if the foreigner or person they are applying to move to refuses to follow integration measures”.

The Local has reached out to the Sweden Democrats’ migration spokesperson for comment and clarification on this topic.

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