Who Needs a Work Permit
If you would like to work in Sweden you will need a work permit. Depending on your profession and where you are from this can be easier said than done. Perhaps it is easiest to start on this subject by saying who does not need a work permit:
- Those who have a Swedish permanent residence card
- Those who have a residence permit to attend university
- Those who are EU citizens, as well as those from Norway and Switzerland
- There are other exceptions for people who do not need a work permit, and these tend to be for very specific categories of jobs such as:
- Technical instructors for essential machinery
- Tourist bus drivers
There are some special rules for certain professions such as being an au pair. Also, if you are from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, or Canada and between the ages of 18-30 it is also possible to work in Sweden for a year without first having a work permit.
For everyone else, you will need to get a work permit before coming to Sweden, and if you are approved you will also automatically get a resident permit. You can accomplish this through the following steps:
- Receive an offer of employment
- Fill out a work permit application
- Take care of your residence card
Step 1. Offer of Employment
You will need to have a written offer of employment before you come to Sweden to work. The company or person who is extending you this offer will have to notify both you and Migrationsverket (the Swedish Immigration Agency) about specific details of this offer, including:
- Terms of employment- must be on an equal level as similar occupations in Sweden in regards to union agreements and working standards
- Salary- must be at least SEK 13,000 before taxes
- The opinion of a trade union representative of the same or related field, regarding the merits of your offer of employment
Once you receive this written notification you can proceed with filling out an application for a work permit. Also keep in mind that some industries like construction, cleaning, hotels, and restaurants have to meet more stringent requirements to issue you an offer of employment.
A few notes about finding employment
As with most countries, thousands of jobs are listed online through different web pages with many in English. There are also many umbrella companies that offer job coaching and job placement services. These companies can get money from the government if they help you find a job or give you job training. So it is worth considering joining one of these many agencies, especially if it specializes in making placements in your field of training. They will not only be interested in helping you for a fee (and there are many that won’t charge you), they will also be working to find you a job so they can get money from the government.
And a note about language- although many Swedes speak English, especially in more advanced and international positions, there is no substitute for being able to speak Swedish. This is especially important for employment dealing with the public and some of the more commonly available jobs.
Step 2. Application for a Work Permit
Your next step will be to fill out an application for a work permit. You can fill out a paper application and mail it to the Swedish embassy or consulate in the country where you are currently living, but this can add more than an extra month’s wait time to you application. The fastest way to apply is online, and you will need to have a Visa, MasterCard, or bank membership with Nordea or SEB.
Make sure to include the following documents with your application for a work permit (scanned and attached if applying online):
- Your official offer of employment from your employer
- Trade union representative’s opinion of your employment offer (should be included when your employer sends you his or her offer of employment)
- Copy of your passport showing your name, passport expiration date, and any visas or residence permissions
- If any of your family members are accompanying you, include their required documents
- Application fee of SEK 2,000 with reduced prices for several occupations such as au pair, visiting researcher, performer, etc. You do not need to pay an application fee if you are from Japan
Note that current wait times start at 11 months and extend to 18 months if you are self-employed. Don’t forget to renew your work permit, keeping in mind the wait time for renewal. Work permits are valid for a maximum of two years and also expire when your passport expires. If you hold a valid work permit for 48 months you are eligible to become a permanent resident.
Step 3. Taking Care of Your Residence Card
You will automatically get a residence card if you plan on working more than three months in Sweden and you are approved. You will need to provide your fingerprints and be photographed for your residence card, and you can do this once you arrive in Sweden if you don’t need a visa prior to entry. If you are from a country that requires a visa you can have your biometric information taken at the Swedish embassy in your country.
If you have a work permit that is valid longer than one year, you can bring this and other required documentation to the Swedish tax agency Skatteverket to obtain your Swedish personal number, known as the personnummer.
If your work permit is valid for less than one year you will get a coordination number (samordningsnummer), not a personnummer.