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Doctoral candidate
Frequently asked questions about permanent residence permit

Permanent residence means you have a right to live and work freely in Sweden during the stated period. It also means that you are entitled to, for example, student loans and grants from CSN.

Previously, you could apply for a permanent residence permit as soon as you had been resident for four years with a permit that qualifies as the basis of a permanent residence permit, (regardless of the expiry date on your current residence permit). In April 2019, the Swedish Migration Board issued a new interpretation of the regulations and now states that applications may only be submitted no more than 14 days before the current residence permit expires.

Several people who had applied earlier have had their applications rejected and must instead submit a new application 14 days before their current permit expires. SULF anticipates that this will lead to problems, as anyone who leaves Sweden during the gap between two residence permits will not be allowed to re-enter the country. This makes it difficult for people to attend conferences or to take other trips abroad. We have raised this issue with the Migration Board, but this is how they currently apply the rule.

Please note that you are still entitled to stay and work in Sweden during the waiting period.

Yes, in some cases. You may add up your time with a residence permit for research studies and time with a work permit. Time with a residence permit as a visiting researcher can also be included, but not time with a residence permit for studies other than doctoral studies.

On what basis should I apply for permanent residence permit? I also have the opportunity to apply due to family ties to another person in Sweden.
If you qualify for a permanent residence permit in more than one way you can state two reasons in your application. The Migration Agency will examine them parallel and select the one that is most advantageous to you. For example,  if  you are able to apply based on your own time in research, but also through family ties with another person who has a permanent residence permit, is a Swedish national or EU/EEA national,  enter both on your application.

To be eligible for a permanent residence permit you must have held a residence permit for doctoral studies for at least four years during a seven-year period. How research studies were funded is irrelevant. If this deadline is met,  the Migration Agency will examine if you intend to settle, that is to say that you intend to stay in Sweden for some time. If you intend to reside in Sweden, but have previously stated the opposite, this has no crucial importance for the decision, but it is important that you describe and explain your intention to settle here and all the other reasons for this.

Learn even more about the importance of stating a residence intention under Citizenship. The Migration Agency also examines if you could be denied permanent residence for other reasons, for example because of a criminal record.

If you have been granted a permanent residence permit after having been a doctoral candidate for four years, your family may apply for the same. If they had previously lived with you in Sweden and applied for an extension to their residence permit, earlier the Migration Agency considered that the fulfilment of the provision of financial support that was introduced in a temporary act and is currently valid until the summer 2019 was to be enforced.

SULF’s opinion has always been that the financial support requirements in this act, which in addition to income requirements also state demands for a certain size of residence, do not apply to doctoral candidate or previous doctoral candidate family members, who have already applied for a residence permit after the doctoral candidate has been granted a permanent residence permit. After a considerable period of pressure from SULF, we are now pleased to note that, in the spring of 2018, the Swedish Migration Agency made a new assessment which means that they no longer consider the financial support requirement to apply in the doctoral candidate situation.

Our advice to our members is to appeal any other decision. SULF can assist in this process after agreement on measures.

If you have applied for a permanent residence permit or a repeat fixed-term residence permit you may continue to reside in Sweden. If you also have a work permit, you may continue to work here during the period of your application. However do not leave Sweden during the period your application is being processed.

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and have lived in Sweden without interruption for five years, you may be granted long-term resident status (this is not the same thing as a permanent residence permit) in Sweden. This means you have greater opportunities to work, study or start your own business in most other EU countries. To be granted long-term resident status in Sweden you must:

  • have lived in Sweden for at least five years without interruption (time spent outside Sweden, shorter than 6 months continuously and not more than 10 months in total during the 5-year period, shall not be counted as interruption)
  • have been granted residence permits for the last five years (residence permits for visits and studies other than doctoral studies may not be included)
  • be able to support yourself and your family (the maintenance requirement is not valid when applying for permanent residence permit or citizenship, but is valid when applying for long-term resident status)

If you have a permanent residence, you can stay outside Sweden, but within the EU in the countries covered by the agreement, for up to 6 years.

Applying for long-term resident status in Sweden may be an option if you have lived in Sweden for five years, but for some reason do not meet the requirements for permanent residence or citizenship. If you had a residence permit based on family membership, this time may be counted, as well as a residence permit for doctoral studies. If you are granted status as a long-term resident, you will also be granted a permanent residence permit.

In some cases, the Migration Court has granted the applicant a PUT even though they did not have a residence permit for doctoral studies for four years. For example, it may be that you have been granted residence permits for master’s studies or for work that were still in force when you started doctoral studies. The court has said that the important thing is the connection to Sweden that the applicant received through his/her doctoral studies, and not the classification of the residence permit. However, there is no guarantee that a PUT will be granted without an individual review.

We have seen that in some cases, the Migration Court has granted the applicant a PUT, despite having been admitted as a doctoral candidate for less than four years. In these cases, the court has said that the doctoral degree comprises 240 higher education credits, i.e. four years of full-time postgraduate studies.

You can apply for a residence permit for 12 months if you fulfil certain criteria, but not for a longer or shorter period. This applies both if you have had a residence permit for studies, including doctoral studies, and if you have had a residence permit for research (often referred to as guest researcher).

You can read more about this at the website of Swedish Migration Agency

Resi­dence permit for looking for work after studies
Resi­dence permit after rese­arch

If you meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit (link to a suitable place on our website), we recommend primarily that you apply for this instead, because it is a much better residence permit and it does not require you to be able to support yourself for a certain period.

It has previously been proposed that requirements regarding Swedish language skills and knowledge of Swedish society and institutions be introduced for eligibility for a permanent residence permit from 20 July 2021, as well as a requirement regarding means of financial support. However, the proposal presented by the government on 8 April 2021 only includes the financial support requirement. This requirement will also apply to anyone who wishes to apply for permanent residence after doctoral studies, research or work in Sweden for at least four years. The other requirements have been postponed to the time being.

The exact wording of the requirement regarding means of financial support has not yet been announced, as it will be specified in more detail by the government at a later date. As soon as we know more about the requirement, we will update our information.
Updated on 13 April 21.

SULF recommends that you start preparing now for the introduction of a requirement of a certain level of knowledge of Swedish language and society in the future. There is already a proposal that such requirements be introduced for the acquisition of Swedish citizenship from 1 January 2025. We do not currently know when the requirement will be introduced for permanent residence or what knowledge will be required.

We recommend that you bring up with your manager the question of whether you can get support from your employer to attend training during working hours that will help you reach the requirements.

Updated on 13 April 21.

If you who have had a residence permit for studies (including doctoral studies) or research, you are able to apply for a one-year residence permit in order to be able to seek employment in Sweden. You can find more information about applying for work after studies or research here.

Updated on 13 April 21.

The Migrations Agency – check lists
The Migrations Agency provides check lists for doctoral candidates:
Checklist for a certificate for a first time permit for doctoral studies

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