For members


What should international parents know about Sweden’s migration law?

Swedish migration law changed in 2021. Now, everyone applying for a non-EU residence permit must do so with valid photo ID – even children. Read on to see what international parents who have a baby in Sweden should know about this law, and how it will affect you.

a woman carrying a baby in a woven wrap
Sweden's new immigration law has had unexpected consequences for some international parents. Photo: Sofia Sabel/

Who is affected?

This article addresses residence permits for non-EU/EEA citizens – if you are from the EU or EEA you do not need to apply for a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) and you will have EU right of residence (uppehållsrätt) instead, meaning these changes do not affect you or your children – as long as your child also has EU or EEA citizenship.

See here for an explainer on the different kinds of residency in Sweden if you’re not sure which type you have.

What has changed?

This new law has changed residence permit applications in a number of ways. The main change is that, as a rule, residence permits are now limited to two years’ validity, with applications for permanent residence permits possible after the holder has had a temporary residence permit for at least three years.

The new law also means that permanent residence permits can no longer be granted on the basis of a family member holding permanent residency, so children can only get permanent residency after three years of holding a temporary residence permit.

However, the main change which affects parents and parents-to-be with children born in Sweden is that all applicants for residence permits must now have valid photo ID, regardless of age. Previously, children without a passport could still apply.

Unlike some other countries, children born in Sweden are not automatically Swedish citizens – citizenship is based on their parents’ country of origin. Therefore, international parents of newborns born in Sweden must apply for a child passport or national ID card from their native country in order for their child to get a Swedish residence permit, if neither parent has EU or Swedish citizenship.

Depending on how long it takes for the child’s country of citizenship to process passport applications, this can add months to the already long waiting times for residence permit applications.

How does this affect international families?

If the mother has a personal number, or if the father is the child’s legal guardian and has a personal number – the 10 or 12 digit code to unlocking a lot of Swedish services – it should amount to nothing more than a longer wait for a permit.

This is due to the fact that children born in Sweden to parents who have personal numbers are automatically assigned a personal number at birth – they do not need a residency permit first. This means that you will still be able to easily access healthcare and childcare for your child while you wait for their residence permit to be approved. Even if you or your child don’t have a personal number, everyone under the age of 18 still has the right to healthcare.

Just be prepared that you will need to apply for a passport or ID card for your child as soon as you can after their birth so they can be granted a residence permit – depending on your country of origin you may need to send your own passport away for up to a few months or travel to your country’s embassy, so ensure that you don’t have any international travel planned and that you have another form of valid ID in the meantime, if possible.

Have you been affected by this law change? Get in touch with The Local’s editorial team at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. When in 2021 did this change? I got a (temporary) residence permit for 2.5 years (because my passport expires then). Also, I didn’t need to submit a photograph when I applied for my residence permit.

    I think I applied for my permit around May/June.

    1. Hi,

      The rules changed on the 20th July 2021.

      You don’t usually have to submit a photograph in your application – when you go to Migrationsverket to get your card made they will take a photo and take your fingerprints which will then be stored digitally on the card.

      The photo ID requirement just means that the ID you use in your application has to include a photo of you (e.g. passport).

      Hope that clears things up, let me know if you have any more questions,


      1. Hi,

        I recently applied for residence permit for my new born daughter and I realized that migration has updated the system but still you are able to apply for residence permit without any valid photo id. You will get the control number but you have to supply with valid photo id as soon as it is ready. So I think practically it doesn’t effect any much.

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For members


How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

It can now take about six months to get a work permit in Sweden, and a year for an extension. Here's how you can get on the fast track.

How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

How long does it normally take to get a permit to work in Sweden? 

According to the calculator on the Migration Agency’s website, 75 percent of first work permit applications are completed within three months, and 75 percent of work permit extensions are completed within 14 months. 

These numbers, though, are only for people in non-risk industries. If you are applying for a job in the cleaning, building, hotel and restaurant, or car repair industries — all of which are seen as high risk by the agency — applications can take much longer to be approved. 

For these industries, the calculator suggests a long 12-month wait for a first application and a 17-month wait for an extension. 

This is because of the higher number of unscrupulous employers in these industries who do not pay foreign workers their promised salaries, or do not fulfil other requirements in their work permit applications, such as offering adequate insurance and other benefits. 

So how do you get on the fast track for a permit? 

There are two ways to get your permit more rapidly: the so-called “certified process” and the EU’s Blue Card scheme for highly skilled employees. 

What is the certified process?

The certified process was brought in back in 2011 by the Moderate-led Alliance government to help reduce the then 12-month wait for work permits.

Under the process, bigger, more reputable Swedish companies and trusted intermediaries handling other applications for clients, such as the major international accounting firms, can become so-called “certified operators”, putting the work permit applications they handle for employees on a fast track, with much quicker processing times. 

The certified operator or the certified intermediary is then responsible for making sure applications are ‘ready for decision’, meaning the agency does not need to spend as much time on them. 
You can find answers to the most common questions about the certified process on the Migration Agency’s website

How much quicker can a decision be under the certified process? 
Under the agreement between certified employers and the Migration Agency, it should take just two weeks to process a fresh work permit application, and four weeks to get an extension. 
Unfortunately, the agency is currently taking much longer: between one and three months for a fresh application, and around five to six months for an extension. 
This is still roughly half the time it takes for an employee seeking a permit outside the certified process. 
The Migration Agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in a recent article that in September the average decision had taken 105 days, while over the year as a whole, applications for certified companies had taken 46 days, and those for non-certified companies 120 days. 

How can someone planning to move to Sweden for work take advantage of the certified process? 
Unfortunately, it is very much up to your employer. If you are planning to move to Sweden for work, you should make sure to ask prospective employers if they are certified, or sub-certified through an intermediary firm, and take that into account when deciding which company to take a job with. 
Smaller IT companies are often not certified, as they tend to start off by recruiting from within Sweden or the European Union. 
If you have begun a work permit application with a company that is not certified or sub-certified, then you cannot get onto the fast track even if your employer gets certified while you are waiting for a decision. 
The certified process can also not be used to get a work permit for an employee of a multinational company who is moving to the Swedish office from an office in another country. 
If my employer is certified, what do I need to do?
You will need to sign a document giving power of attorney to the person at your new company who is handling the application, both on behalf of yourself and of any family members you want to bring to Sweden.  
You should also double check the expiry date on your passport and on those of your dependents, and if necessary applying for a new passport before applying, as you can only receive a work permit for the length of time for which you have a valid passport. 

Which companies are certified? 
Initially, only around 20 companies were certified, in recent years the Migration Agency has opened up the scheme to make it easier for companies to get certified, meaning there are now about 100 companies directly certified, and many more sub-certified. 
To get certified, a company needs to have handled at least ten work permit applications for foreign employees over the past 18 months (there are exceptions for startups), and also to have a record of meeting the demands for work and residency permits.  
The company also needs to have a recurring need to hire from outside the EU, with at least ten applications expected a year. 
The Migration Agency is reluctant to certify or sub-certify companies working in industries where it judges there is a high risk of non-compliance with the terms of work permits, such as the building industry, the hotel and restaurant industry, the retail industry, and agriculture and forestry. 
Most of the bigger Swedish firms that rely on foreign expertise, for example Ericsson, are certified. 
The biggest intermediaries through whom companies can become sub-certified are the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and Vialto (a spin-off from PwC), and the specialist relocation firms Human Entrance, and Alpha Relocation. Bråthe estimates that these six together control around 60 percent of the market. Other players include K2 Corporate Mobility, Key Relocation, Nordic Relocation, and some of the big corporate law firms operating in Sweden, such as Ving and Bird & Bird. 

What is the EU Blue Card, how can I get one, and how can it help speed up the work permit process? 
Sweden’s relatively liberal system for work permits, together with the certification system, has meant that in recent years there has been scant demand for the EU Blue Card. 
The idea for the Blue Card originally sprung from the Brussels think-tank Bruegel, and was written into EU law in August 2012. The idea was to mimic the US system of granting workers a card giving full employment rights and expedited permanent residency. Unlike with the US Green Card, applicants must earn a salary that is at least 1.5 times as high as the average in the country where they are applying.
Germany is by far the largest granter of EU blue cards, divvying out nearly 90 percent of the coveted cards, followed by France (3.6 percent), Poland (3.2 percent) and Luxembourg (3 percent).

How can I qualify for a Blue Card?

The card is granted to anyone who has an accredited university degree (you need 180 university credits or högskolepoäng in Sweden’s system), and you need to be offered a job paying at least one and a half times the average Swedish salary (about 55,000 kronor a month).

How long does a blue card take to get after application in Sweden? 

According to the Migration Agency, a Blue Card application is always handled within 90 days, with the card then sent to the embassy or consulate named in the application.

In Sweden ,it is only really worth applying for a Blue Card if you are applying to work at a company that is not certified and are facing a long processing time.

EU Blue Cards are issued for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years.