There are many reasons for coming to Sweden to work. The Swedish labour market is renowned for combining innovation, generous work benefits and job security, and the governing labour migration rules also make it easy for people outside the EU to obtain Swedish work permits. This is how to do it.
Swedish businesses are constantly on the lookout for new expertise. New rules were introduced in 2008 to attract labour to industries/sectors that have difficulties finding enough skilled workers. This reform makes it easier for non-Europeans to move to Sweden to work.
Under the new rules, you can find a job, get an offer of employment and be granted a Swedish work permit while still outside Sweden.
Finding a job
Job vacancies in Sweden are often advertised on employment portals, such as eures.europa.eu, Arbetsformedlingen.se, Monster.se, Jobbsafari.se and Stepstone.se. Another way of looking for work is to make direct contact with the company you are interested in working for. Most companies advertise vacant positions on their websites.
Applying for a job
People who are not citizens of the EU/EEA can qualify for a work permit only if the job they are seeking has been advertised on the EURES website, or equivalent, for at least ten days. If you find a job advertisement outside EURES, you can ask the employer to advertise the position on EURES so that you can apply in the approved way.
To apply for a job in Sweden, you should send in your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a personal letter. Your CV should be about one page long and list your work experience, studies, any awards, special skills, personal information and references. It should briefly describe who you are and what experience you have. The personal letter should describe why you are the right person for the job. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need a visa to travel to Sweden for an interview. Contact the nearest Swedish embassy or consulate to find out whether you need an entry visa.
Not an EU/EEA citizen? Then you need a work permit
If you plan to work in Sweden but are not a citizen of the EU/EEA, the Nordic countries or Switzerland, you need a work permit. Once you have received an offer of employment, you can begin applying for a permit by getting in touch with the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).
The waiting time for a decision from the Swedish Migration Board varies. Work permits are valid for a maximum two years but can be renewed. After four years in Sweden, you can apply for a permanent residence permit.
To apply for a work permit, you need your future employer to make an official offer of employment in writing and have it approved by an appropriate trade union. Once the document has been approved, it should be returned to you. You should then send the offer of employment, signed by both the employer and a trade union representative, to the Swedish Migration Board together with your application for a Swedish work permit. An application fee is charged whether you apply on the internet or in person. Apart from that fee, there are no other costs for a Swedish work permit.
The following documents are the minimum requirement:
- A written offer of employment, completed and signed by the employer and a trade union representative
- A valid passport
- Copies of relevant documents for each family member accompanying you. The Swedish Migration Board will inform you as soon as they reach a decision.
If you have a family
Under Swedish law, accompanying partners and children are also taken into consideration. If your job is for longer than six months, all members of your immediate family may be granted work and residence permits for the period for which you have been granted a work permit.
The opportunity to live, work and study here means that your family can participate in Swedish community life from the start. Your immediate family is defined as your spouse or cohabiting partner, and any unmarried children you may have up to the age of 21. When applying for a residence permit for your family, you need to enclose the following documents:
- A valid passport for each family member
- A birth certificate for each accompanying child
- A marriage certificate for you and your spouse or a document showing that you are cohabiting as partners.
Settling in Sweden
Once you have obtained a job and a work permit, it’s time to plan your move to Sweden. You have to find accommodation and plan schooling for any children you may have. On arrival, there are practical matters to deal with, such as registering with the authorities and acquiring a personal identity number (personnummer) and a bank account.
One of the first things you need to arrange before moving to Sweden is a place to live. To obtain your own rental contract, you need both a Swedish personal identity number and proof that your income is enough to cover the rent.
In cities and large towns, people have to wait a long time – often several years – to get a rental contract of their own. So you should expect to rent an apartment on a subletting contract (andrahandskontrakt) to start with. It is important that you have a formal agreement, and a subletting contract always has to be approved by the landlord.
An apartment that you buy to live in is called an owner-occupied apartment (bostadsrätt). Besides the purchase sum for the flat, you pay a monthly charge to cover repairs and maintenance, renovations, and other shared costs for the building itself. If you buy a house, however, you will most likely have full right of ownership to both the building and the land it stands on. A real estate agent can help you find and buy a house or apartment. Some employers help their employees find a place to live during their period of employment.
If you have a child who will be starting school in Sweden, you can find a summarised description of the Swedish education system on the website of the National Agency for Education. As soon as you know where in Sweden you and your family will be living, you can start to look for nearby schools. For information about how to choose a school, contact the municipality you will be moving to.
Your children can attend school free of charge and are entitled to language tuition in their mother tongue.
Your initial period in Sweden
During your first few days in Sweden, you should make a point of registering with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), and of opening a Swedish bank account.
- The Tax Agency issues personal identity numbers/co-ordination numbers and ID cards.
- To receive pay from your employer, you need a Swedish bank account.
- You must be registered with the Social Insurance Agency in order to receive compensation when you are on sick leave or parental leave.
Rights and benefits
Everyone who lives in Sweden is entitled to certain statutory rights and benefits that are financed largely via the Swedish tax system. Rights for employees are based on laws, collective agreements and employment contracts.
The Swedish welfare state – often referred to abroad as the Swedish model – is a social and economic system guided by the principles of full employment, equal pay for equal work, and universal welfare for the community as a whole. Wages are on a par with those in other industrialised countries, and people in Sweden generally enjoy a high standard of living. Sweden is always ranked high in international welfare indexes.
Health care is available to everyone who lives in Sweden and never costs more than SEK 1 100 over a twelve-month period (2012 figure). Maternity care is free, and health care is also free for children up to the age of 18. An extra subsidy covers any costs for medicines exceeding SEK 2 200 during a given year.
Dental visits are free of charge up until the year the child turns 19. Adults can also receive financial assistance for highcost procedures.
Employees who fall ill normally receive sick pay from their employers for the first 14 days, amounting to 80 per cent of their regular pay. Education is free of charge from the age of six up to and including university level.
Everyone who is a registered resident of Sweden is covered by a pension system consisting of an income pension calculated on the basis of lifetime earnings, and a guaranteed pension for people with little or no income pension (if they have lived in Sweden at least three years). Even if you stop working in Sweden and move to another country, you are entitled to your Swedish pension when you reach retirement age.
Rights for employees
All employees in Sweden have at least five weeks paid holiday per year and are entitled to paid sick leave.
The Swedish parental-leave scheme also allows parents to stay home from work to look after their young children for a total of 480 days per child. Parents who share this entitlement equally also qualify for a “gender equality bonus.”
If you become unemployed and belong to an unemployment fund, you are entitled to a certain amount of unemployment benefits, based on the income from your previous job.