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Work permits in Sweden: rules and application (2024)

If you want to move to Sweden to work it is important to first apply for a Swedish work permit, which will allow you as a non-Swedish citizen to live and work in Sweden. Here we will first explain how to apply for a work permit and what is required of you to do so. Then we will go through some things that are important for anyone applying for a work permit to know in order to maximise their chances.

Enkla Juridik is a law firm in Sweden. We have migration lawyers and specialists who are eager to help you. Please read our text to learn more about work permits.

1. Who needs a work permit and why?

Anyone who is not a citizen within the EU/EES nor has a permanent residence permit needs a work permit to be allowed to work in Sweden. It is illegal to work while coming to Sweden as a tourist. Working illegally in Sweden could in the worst case scenario lead to you being deported and/or being forbidden to come back to any Schengen-country during a certain period of time.

2. How do I apply for a work permit in Sweden?

It is important to know that you almost always need to apply for a work permit before you come to Sweden. There are a few exceptions to this, for example for people who have an advanced level university degree. In this case, you can instead apply for a residence permit for highly qualified persons in order to search for work or business opportunities in Sweden for up to nine months. 

The application for a work permit is tried by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket). Your employer is the one that initiates the application by providing the Migration Agency with information about you and your employment. After this you will receive an email from the Migration Agency asking you for further information and documentation. 

3. What are the requirements?

To be given a work permit, you need to fulfil the following requirements:

  • A valid passport.
  • An employment contract.
  • The pay you have been offered must be enough for you to be able to provide for yourself. For this, the pay has to be at least 27 360 SEK before taxes (from 1 November 2023 onwards). 
  • The payment, insurance and other employment conditions must be equal to or better than those in Swedish collective agreements or the ones that are common within the field.

4. How long does it take?

The time from application to receiving a work permit depends on the field within which you have applied to work. The time taken can vary from as quick as one month up to more than a year’s wait for people who are self-employed. In order to make the application process as quick as possible, it is a good idea to turn in all documents and information that the Migration Agency needs from the very start. The Migration Agency’s website has a tool where you can calculate the estimated time for your application to be processed. 

5. How do I extend a work permit?

A Swedish work permit (in Swedish: arbetstillstånd) is given for a specific period of time that is never longer than 2 years. A work permit can not be given for a period longer than the employment contract lasts. Before your work permit expires you can apply for an extension. Make sure to do this in time, since it is significantly more difficult to get your application approved otherwise. 

6. Can I bring my family to Sweden on a work permit?

Your family members (husband/wife, a partner you live with and your unmarried children), can apply for a residence permit in order to join you in Sweden while you are here on a work permit. This allows them to come to Sweden and live here. If your family is accompanying you, you have to show that you are able to provide for both yourself and your family members. It is also possible for your family members to apply for work permits of their own, if they are going to stay for longer than six months.

7. Can I get a permanent residence permit using a work permit?

Yes, if you have had a work permit and worked in Sweden for at least four years during the last seven years, you can be granted a permanent residence permit provided that you fulfil the other requirements for this. 

8. Do I need a work permit if I am an asylum seeker? 

As an asylum seeker you may be allowed to work in Sweden without having a work permit. Instead you have to apply for a so-called AT-UND, which is a document that proves that you are exempt from needing a work permit. In order to be granted an AT-UND, you need to fulfil the following:

  • You have provided the Migration Agency with proof of your identity.
  • Your application is to be considered in Sweden in accordance with the Dublin regulation.
  • You have solid reasons for applying for an asylum.

If you have worked while awaiting the Migration Agency’s decision and your application for asylum is then rejected, you can choose to change tracks and instead apply for a work permit. In order to be granted a work permit in a case like this, you need to fulfil the following requirements:

  • Your application must be sent in no later than two weeks after the rejection of your application for asylum has become valid.
  • You must prove your identity with a valid passport.
  • You must have had an AT-UND while awaiting your decision.
  • You must have been employed by the same employer the last four months before applying for the work permit.
  • The other requirements for a work permit, as explained above, must also be fulfilled.

9. Can I appeal a rejection of my application for a work permit? 

Yes, you can appeal a negative decision by the Migration Agency. This is true whether you applied for a new work permit or for an extension. The appeal is tried by the Migration Court. Every decision that is appealed is tried by the court, so you do not need a leave for appeal. If the Migration Court does not change the Migration Agency’s decision, you can appeal once more to the Migration Court of Appeal. In this case, a leave for appeal is required in order to have your case tried. 

10. How will Sweden’s new government act?

Since October 2022 Sweden has a new government. The new government is advocating stricter migration laws. It is highly likely that this will also impact migratory rules and requirements across the board. 

11. How can Enkla Juridik help me apply for a work permit? 

The rules around work permits can be complicated, and especially for someone who does not speak Swedish it can be easy to miss something, which can end up delaying the process. If you want to maximise the chances of your application being granted and speed up the process as much as possible, it is a good idea to have a migration specialist help you apply. If you have had your application rejected, a lawyer can also help you to appeal the decision. Enkla Juridik’s skilled migration lawyers and specialists have helped many clients with these matters and would love to help you too.