Sweden’s healthcare, social benefits system, and standard of living are often held up as models against those of other developed countries. For this reason and others, it is a popular destination for people wanting to start their lives in a new country.
Sweden issues permission to live and work separately through different state agencies. Obtaining a residence permit (known as an uppehållskort) does not automatically mean you can work legally, although if you receive permission to work you will also receive a residence card.
Note that immigrating through marriage can refer to a common-law partner, registered partner, or spouse.
Some Background on Sweden’s Immigration History
Prior to the Second World War Sweden had been facing an exodus of its own people searching for a better life in other countries. During the war Sweden remained officially neutral and as a result was able to spare itself from the destruction experienced by many other European countries. Incidentally the neutrality policy is still criticized to this day, but this will sidetrack us. The point here is that Sweden’s infrastructure came out unscathed and it emerged from World War Two with a manufacturing sector that was steadily increasing in strength.
Sweden’s growing prosperity led to a workforce demand that could not be met by native Swedes, and thus immigrants began arriving in the country in larger and larger numbers. From 1965-1974 the government initiated the Million Houses Program in response to the increase in population in the country- a program to build a million residences in a ten-year period and create affordable homes for everyone. You can see the results of this program throughout Sweden’s major cities and new dwellings are still constantly springing up in:
- Göteborg (Gothenburg)
Through the 2000s Sweden had liberal admission policies for its universities, in many cases accepting qualified students from any country to join its state-sponsored (free for students) education system. Up until recently it was possible for students to remain in the country for a certain period of time to seek employment after they graduated from Swedish universities, and hence begin a path to citizenship. However this is changing now, and degree programs like business and finance require tuition fees that continue to increase.
Per-person Sweden also accepts one of the highest percentages of refugees. As with most European countries, immigration is a much-talked-about hot issue in society. The largest immigrant groups in Sweden are from:
- Former Yugoslavia
Currently the fastest growing immigrant populations within Sweden are comprised of parents born in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iraq.