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SULF’s office on Ferkens gränd is closed for spontaneous visits. Service by phone and email is provided as usual.

Residence permit
Frequently asked questions about permanent residence permit

Please note that new legislation has been introduced July 20th. You can also read more about the changes regarding permanent residency at Migrationsverket.

The Swedish parliament has approved amendments to the Aliens Act and these came into force on 20 July 2021. The new provisions will apply to everyone who applied for a permanent residence permit and did not receive a decision before 20 July 2021.

For researchers and doctoral candidates, the change in the law mainly means that self-sufficiency through work or an own company is required for a permanent residence permit to be granted. No changes have made regarding the requirement of a four-year residence permit for doctoral studies, research or work within a seven-year period, . No requirements regarding knowledge of Swedish language or Swedish society have yet been introduced for permanent residence, but it is likely that such requirements will be introduced later.

In order to be granted a permanent residence permit, it is now required that applicants are also able to support themselves through employment or their own company. As a general rule, employment must be for a period of at least 18 months at the time the decision is made in the opinion of the Swedish Migration Agency, but this time requirement may be tried in court in the future. In some cases, probationary employment may be accepted. Benefits from an unemployment insurance fund cannot be counted as sufficient support to qualify for a permanent residence permit, but certain other benefits, such as sickness benefit and parental benefit, may be counted if they are paid temporarily and during the time you are employed.

Another important change is that accompanying family members over the age of 18 must themselves meet the self-support requirement in order to be granted a permanent residence permit, and they must also have had a residence permit for at least three years. The self-support requirement does not apply to children, but they must have had a residence permit for at least three years in order to be able to obtain a permanent residence permit. If these requirements are not met, a temporary residence permit can instead be granted if you are able to support the family members. In these cases, the self-support requirement is different than in the case of permanent residence, since unemployment benefit and other forms of benefit can also be included.

In addition, you and your family members must intend to live in Sweden and have shown good conduct.

If a permanent residence permit is not granted for the applicant or a family member, a temporary residence permit can still be granted in some cases. This may apply, for example, if a doctoral candidate has not yet completed their doctoral programme, if a residence permit to seek employment for one year after completing studies or research can be granted or if you have been given a temporary job. If you apply for a permanent residence permit but do not meet the requirements according to the Swedish Migration Agency, they should assess whether you can instead be granted a temporary residence permit. However, it is a good idea to contact them and ensure that they make such an assessment.

If you are not granted a new residence permit at all, you can appeal the decision to the Migration Court. In some cases, you can also appeal a decision on a permanent residence permit even if a temporary residence permit has been granted. This applies in cases where the Swedish Migration Agency has rejected your application because they do not consider that you meet the self-support requirement or on the basis of your conduct. You may stay in Sweden while the appeal is being heard, and in most cases you will also be allowed to work during this time.

It is also possible to obtain a permanent residence permit by applying for status as a long-term resident after five years of living in Sweden. If such an application is granted, you will also receive a permanent residence permit. The requirements regarding financial support and more are somewhat different in this case. You can read more about this under the question “Can I apply for long-term resident status?

We understand that this is a difficult situation for members who are impacted by the change. The Swedish Migration Agency is responsible for answering questions about how the new law affects you. Therefore, we primarily refer all questions to the Swedish Migration Agency, as they have an obligation to provide everyone with the service they need. It is also the Agency that makes all decisions about residence permits. Through the questions and answers we have collected on this page, and by arranging seminars, we provide members with information about the regulations so that you can also ask the right questions to the Swedish Migration Agency based on your own situation. This information will also help you to more easily understand the answers you receive from the Agency and to judge whether the answers seem unreasonable or incorrect. If you have questions about matters of principle and which are closely linked to your employment, we can also give individual advice about your situation. In general, in order to receive personal service from the trade union, you must have been a member for at least three months and the problem you have may not have arisen before you became a member.

In addition, SULF works on general level to improve conditions by lobbying politicians and other decision-makers and by influencing opinion on the issue. Read more below under the question “What is SULF doing with regard to permanent residence permits?”.

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.

From 20 July 2021, every person applying for a permanent residence permit needs to fulfil the criteria. As a result, it is no longer automatic that you will be granted a permanent residence permit if a family member has one. Therefore, it is a good idea to apply for a permanent residence permit individually if you meet the requirements.

To be granted a permanent residence permit, you must have had a residence permit for doctoral studies for at least four years over a seven-year period. If needed, time with a residence permit for work or research can also be included in order to qualify. How the doctoral studies are funded is irrelevant. If you fulfil this qualifying period requirement, The Swedish Migration Agency will assess whether it is also your intention to settle in Sweden, i.e. that you intend to stay in Sweden for some time, and how you have conducted yourself.

From 20 July 2021, it is also required that you are able to support yourself through work or your own company. The regulation states that such work is to have “some duration”. As a general rule, such employment/self-employment must have a duration of 18 months in the opinion of the Swedish Migration Agency, but this time limit may be tried in court in the future.

This new provision applies to anyone who applied for a permanent residence permit and did not receive a decision before 20 July 2021. Income from an unemployment insurance fund cannot be included in this support requirement, although such compensation can be included to qualify for a temporary residence permit in some cases. However, benefits such as sickness benefit and parental benefit can be included if they are paid temporarily during the time you are employed for a sufficient period.

It is also possible to obtain a permanent residence permit by applying for status as a long-term resident after five years of living in Sweden. If such an application is granted, you will also receive a permanent residence permit. The requirements regarding financial support and more are somewhat different in this case. You can read more about this under the question “Can I apply for long-term resident status?

To be granted a permanent residence permit, you must have had a residence permit for research for at least four years over a seven-year period. If needed, time with a residence permit for work or doctoral studies can also be included in order to qualify. How the research is funded is irrelevant. If you fulfil this qualifying period requirement, The Swedish Migration Agency will assess whether it is also your intention to settle in Sweden, i.e. that you intend to stay in Sweden for some time, and how you have conducted yourself.

From 20 July 2021, it is also required that you are able to support yourself through work or your own company and that this employment/self-employment is to have a duration of at least 18 months. This new provision applies to anyone who applied for a permanent residence permit and did not receive a decision before 20 July 2021. Income from an unemployment insurance fund cannot be included in this support requirement, although such compensation can be included to qualify for a temporary residence permit in some cases. However, benefits such as sickness benefit and parental benefit can be included if they are paid temporarily during the time you are employed for a sufficient period.

If you have been granted a permanent residence permit after being a doctoral candidate for four years, your family can also apply for permanent residence. From 20 July 2021, however, family members are no longer automatically granted permanent permit if you are granted a permit. Each family member must meet the requirements for that and they must also be entitled to a continued residence permit. The requirements are that they are able to support themselves, (this requirement does not apply to children under the age of 18), that they have had a residence permit for at least three years and have shown good conduct, (this requirement applies to anyone over the age of 15).

If your family members do not fulfil the self-support requirement for permanent residence, they can instead be granted a temporary residence permit if you are able to support them. In these cases, the maintenance requirement is different than in the case of a permanent residence permit, as unemployment benefits and forms of support can also be included.

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 country outside the EU and have lived in Sweden without interruption for five years, you can obtain status as a long-term resident in Sweden. This is not the same as a permanent residence permit, but if you are granted long-term resident status, you will automatically also receive a permanent residence permit. This means that you have greater opportunities to work, study or start your own company in most other EU countries. To obtain status as a permanent resident of Sweden, you must:

  • have lived in Sweden for at least five years without interruption (Staying outside Sweden for less than six consecutive months and not more than ten months in total during the five-year period is not considered an interruption of the stay.)
  • have had a residence permit or otherwise resided legally in Sweden for the past five years (residence permit for visiting or for studies other than doctoral studies may not be included)
  • be able to support yourself and your family financially. Note that this support requirement is not the same as for a permanent residence permit.

With regard to the self-support requirement for status as a long-term resident, the requirements set for a permanent residence permit do not apply. Instead, the provisions that applied before the new legislation came into force on 20 July 2021 continue to apply. An important difference is that the income does not have to come from your own work or own company, but other income can also be included. What is assessed is that you should not be seen as a burden on the social insurance system and that your means of support is sufficiently long-term. As far as SULF is aware, there is no clear practice regarding a definition of long-term. Another important difference is that for long-term residence, your application can also be approved if you have been supported in whole or in part by a family member.

If you have long-term resident status, you can stay outside Sweden, but within the EU in the countries covered, for up to 6 years.

Applying for long-term residence status can therefore be an alternative way to obtain a permanent residence permit if you have lived in Sweden for five years but for some reason do not meet the requirements for being granted a permanent residence permit or citizenship. If you have had a residence permit based on a relationship, this time can be included, as well as any residence permit for doctoral studies. If you are granted status as a long-term resident, you must by law 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).

In order to be granted a residence permit to seek employment, you must have completed your studies (and obtained a degree) or your research, be able to support yourself financially and have fully comprehensive health insurance. Please note that , unlike the requirements for a permanent residence permit, the financial support does not need to be from employment or an own company. This means, for example, that unemployment benefits can be sufficient to fulfil the self-support requirement. The requirement for comprehensive health insurance is always met if you have been given have a complete Swedish personal identity number (personnummer).

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 believe that you meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit, we recommend that you apply for this instead, because it is a much better residence permit.

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.

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.

Yes there is!

Even if unemployment benefit cannot be counted toward fulfilling the self-support requirement for permanent residence, you can still receive unemployment benefit if the requirements that apply in order to receive it are met. In the vast majority of cases, you can receive compensation while you are waiting for a decision regarding a residence permit. Also, unemployment benefit can be accepted as fulfilling the self-support requirement that applies for you to be granted a residence permit to seek employment for one year. It may also be sufficient for you to meet the requirement for your family members to continue to have temporary residence.

SULF has been very critical of the proposal, which also included language competence requirements, a requirement that has now been removed, but which will probably be introduced later. We have expressed this in various ways, for example in consultation responses and in debate articles.

The requirement regarding the ability to support oneself financially will create major problems for many, because it can be difficult to find a job that lasts for at least 18 months immediately after completion of doctoral studies or research, not least considering how common short fixed-term employment is within higher education. Since the employment duration requirement is to be tested at the time of the decision, there will also be uncertainty as to whether the requirement is met depending on how long the decision process is. The new regulations may therefore result in fewer foreign citizens wanting to or being able to stay in Sweden and contribute to the Swedish economy. There is a danger that we will lose many highly skilled people and that the internationalization of the higher education will become more difficult. Today, a large proportion of both doctoral candidates and people in career-development positions have a foreign background. It is clear that the politicians’ desire to restrict asylum immigration has been the focus rather than how Sweden will be able to retain qualified people, for example, those who complete a doctorate in the country.

SULF will continue to work with this issue in order to, we hope, be able to bring about changes. This, however, will require changes to the law or new legal precedents.

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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