Work permits For Members

EXPLAINED: How to apply for a work permit in Sweden

The Local Sweden
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EXPLAINED: How to apply for a work permit in Sweden
Migration Agency offices in Sundbyberg. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Applying for a work permit in Sweden can seem confusing, with different rules applying for certain occupations and countries, and some immigrants not needing a work permit altogether. Here's our guide to how you can apply for a Swedish work permit.


Who needs a Swedish work permit?

The following groups do not need to apply for a work permit in order to work in Sweden:

  • permanent residence permit holders
  • holders of residence permits to attend college or university
  • holders of special residence permits to work as researchers
  • asylum seekers exempt from work permit obligations
  • EU citizens
  • holders of residence and work permits, including those here under the Temporary Protection Directive, refugees, people in need of alternate subsidiary protection, and people here due to family ties (so-called sambo visas)

There are also some occupations, such as seasonal workers and researchers, with special agreements (see full list here), as well as working holiday visas for those aged 18-30 who are citizens of Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or South Korea.

I need a permit, how do I apply?

First off, you need an employment contract from your new employer. If you are a non-EU national, your job must have been advertised within Sweden and the EU/EEA and Switzerland for at least ten days, and your employer will need to prove this. This usually means that the job was listed on the Swedish Public Employment Service's job bank, which is linked to the EU's job bank, EURES.

The contract needs to be signed by both parties, but an electronic signature is acceptable. 

This requirement does not apply if you are employed overseas and are assigned to do work in Sweden, or if you are transferred within a company group and the position is staying abroad. If the position is moved to Sweden, this requirement applies and your employer will need to advertise the job in the EU.

Your employer is then responsible for initiating the work permit application on your behalf - they will need information from you, such as your name, date of birth, citizenship, education and email address. This email address will also be used by the Migration Agency when they contact you, so make sure it's a private email you have access to rather than, for example, a work email for your new job.


The Migration Agency will send you an email once this has been done, asking you to apply for the permit. At this stage, you will be required to provide more information about yourself, as well as confirming that the details of your new job provided to the Migration Agency apply to what you have agreed on with your employer and what is written in your contract.

If you want to apply for residence permits for any family members coming with you, you will at this stage have to prove that you have enough funds to support them.

What documents should I include in my application?

You will need to include the following documents:

  • a signed employment contract
  • a copy of your passport (it's a good idea to renew it if it is about to expire as you are not able to get a permit for longer than your passport is valid)

How much does it cost?

The fee varies somewhat depending on the role you are applying for, but for most people, it costs 2,200 kronor to apply. Some occupations pay a lower fee, and any family members joining you will also have to pay a fee - 1,500 kronor for adults and 750 kronor for children. You can pay online or at a Swedish embassy, if you choose to apply for a work permit in-person.

Japanese citizens do not have to pay for a work permit application fee.


How long will the application take?

Once you have paid a fee, the Swedish Migration Agency will process your application, with your application likely to be processed more swiftly if you provide all the required documents.

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.

If you are working for a so-called "certified operator", a company which is part of the Migration Agency's fast-track scheme, this can more than halve the time it takes to secure a permit. 

Under the agency's agreement with these company it undertakes to process first-time applications from certified operators in just ten days, although this year, it has taken an average of 46 days. 

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.


What happens if my application is approved?

Once your application is approved, you will receive an email from the Migration Agency detailing your next steps. You will need to get your photo and fingerprints taken for your residence permit card, if you will be working in Sweden for more than three months. If you need a visa to enter Sweden, you will do this at a Swedish embassy before entering Sweden.

If you come from a visa-free country, you can do it at the Migration Agency once you arrive in Sweden, although you will need to have a valid work permit in order to do this.

Once you have been photographed and had your fingerprints taken, you can expect your permit to arrive within four weeks.


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