Residency permits For Members

EXPLAINED: Sweden's planned changes to residence permit applications

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EXPLAINED: Sweden's planned changes to residence permit applications
The Swedish Embassy in Copenhagen. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Applicants for temporary work or residence permits in Sweden must currently travel to a Swedish embassy or consulate for an ID check. The government is now working on a solution to avoid this, although it will only apply to people from visa-free countries.


Who is affected by the current rules?

The current rules, which came in in November 2022, affect all applicants for temporary residence or work permits in Sweden.

The rules, designed to better check applicants' identities when applying for residence or work permits, require prospective permit holders to show their passport at a Swedish embassy or consulate abroad before the permit can be granted.

Why does the government want to change the rules?

The rules mean that some applicants are forced to travel long distances to show their passports at an embassy or consulate, incurring substantial costs for applicants and also delaying their applications if they are unable to travel straight away.

Many Swedish universities have also raised concerns over the new rules and their impact on foreign students and researchers, which Education Minister Mats Persson has described as having “disproportionate consequences”.

"The government doesn't want Sweden to become less competitive," Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard wrote in a press statement. "Therefore, we're taking necessary measures to make it easier for people who do not require visas to enter Sweden to be able to show their passports in person for checks."

Why is it only for applicants from countries which don't require a visa?

Although the work or residence permit application process for all non-EU citizens is broadly similar, applicants from countries requiring a visa to Sweden need to be fingerprinted and photographed at a Swedish embassy or consulate before they are able to enter Sweden.


Applicants from visa-free countries, however, can enter Sweden without a visa and be fingerprinted and photographed at a Migration Agency office once they have arrived.

This means that, even if Sweden were to make it easier for those who require a visa to validate their identity in person, they would still have to travel to an embassy or consulate to complete their applications.

Which countries require a visa to enter Sweden?

Citizens of these countries require a visa to enter Sweden.

As a general rule, citizens of most (but not all) non-EU countries staying in Sweden for less than 90 days will need to apply for a visa, while those staying for longer than 90 days should apply for a residence or work permit instead.

In almost all cases, you will need to apply for a permit or visa before entering Sweden, although some exceptions do apply.


Will I still be able to show my passport at a consulate or embassy?

For now, yes, and this appears unlikely to change in the future.

One of the current solutions proposed would be introducing mobile teams from the Migration Agency, which would visit certain cities near large universities abroad – in Canada and the USA, for example, where many applicants to Sweden come from – where applicants from visa-free countries could show their passports for checks.

As these proposed teams would only be on-site for a very short period in specific areas close to where many applicants come from, and are designed as an extra complement to the current system, it seems unlikely that Sweden would stop accepting passports at embassies and consulates entirely, as this would instead provide more bottlenecks in the system, not less.

The government will officially task the Migration Agency with providing a solution to this issue when it meets on February 23rd.


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cindyconlin 2023/02/23 05:48
I'm happy they are making this change for people from countries that don't require a visa. In my experience, some employees of Swedish embassies insist that even students who come from countries that do NOT require a visa to enter (such as Costa Rica), must also travel to the nearest embassy for photos and fingerprints. I had a long email debate with an employee of the Guatemala City Swedish embassy who insisted that I must travel there (this was in 2021 prior to the passport check rules) for photos and fingerprints even though there was no written rule requiring it. The employee didn't care that due to my work schedule limiting my ability to travel, traveling to Guatemala City would cause me to receive my travel documents so late that I would be able to arrive in Sweden to an empty, unfurnished apartment only two days before my classes started at the university. The Swedish government made getting here a hellish experience for me.

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