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.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
Paywall free


EXPLAINED: How can Ukrainians seek asylum in Sweden?

Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion are leaving their country and looking for shelter in other countries in Europe. But what are the rules for Ukrainians arriving in Sweden?

EXPLAINED: How can Ukrainians seek asylum in Sweden?

This article will remain completely free for everyone as a service to Sweden’s international community. But our coverage is only possible with our paying members’ support, so if you haven’t yet, please consider joining us to support our independent journalism. Thank you.

There are a number of different options available to Ukrainians arriving in Sweden. These include standard entry under Schengen rules, entry under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, and seeking asylum in Sweden.

Entry under Schengen rules

Sweden is in the Schengen area, which means that Ukrainian citizens are able to stay here for 90 days without a permit or an entry visa, so long as they have a valid biometric passport, adequate funds to live on, and adequate funds for their home journey. This rule has been in place since 2017 and has not changed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

If you are entering Sweden via this route, you do not need to contact the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) once you arrive.

Ukrainians entering Sweden via this route will not be seeking asylum status or refugee status in Sweden.

In order to qualify for this rule, you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • a passport that is valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave Sweden
  • a return ticket for a date within the next 90 days
  • a written invitation from the person that you will be staying with, or a booking confirmation if you are staying at a hotel
  • enough money for living costs and the trip home, or a document from someone else stating that they will cover these costs

According to the Migration Agency, those entering Sweden via this route must have at least 450 kronor per person for each day you plan to stay in Sweden. This amount can be lower for children, or if you have paid for accommodation in advance or are staying with someone else.

Sufficient funds can be documented via a bank account statement or a document from the person you will be staying with, stating that they will cover your costs during your visit.

If you are a Ukrainian citizen without a biometric passport, you can enter Sweden and stay for 90 days, but will need a Schengen visa.

If you already know you want to stay in Sweden for longer than 90 days, you should apply for a visitor’s permit.

If you choose to apply under these rules, you will not be granted the same benefits that you would be granted under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, such as the right to medical care, the right to work, and the right to housing.

The EU’s Temporary Protection Directive

A special meeting of European interior ministers on March 3rd agreed to apply a little-used measure known as the Temporary Protection Directive to any Ukrainians who want to come to an EU country.

The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive means that Ukrainian citizens can stay in Sweden for a year without having to apply for a visa or make a claim for asylum.

During that time you will be permitted to work and children can access education.

The status applies immediately and covers both Ukrainians who have already arrived and those who come in the days or weeks to come.

If you choose to apply under these rules, you will qualify for benefits such as help with finding a place to live, the right to work and basic healthcare, the right to education for any children you are applying with, and limited financial support.

The following people can apply under this directive:

  • Ukrainian citizens who were resident in Ukraine prior to February 24th 2022
  • people holding residence permits as refugees in Ukraine, or people with subsidiary protection status in Ukraine
  • family members of the above

You must also have left Ukraine after February 24th, must not have committed criminal acts such as war crimes, and must not otherwise pose a threat to Sweden’s security.

Applicants must also be able to present Ukrainian identity documents – this does not have to be a biometric national passport, although these are accepted. You apply for this status at a National Service Centre. There are ten of these across Sweden. See here for a list (choose “Service Centre” in the menu).

Apply for asylum

If you want to, you can apply for asylum upon arrival in Sweden. You cannot do this before you enter the country. You should tell border police at your point of entry that you wish to apply for asylum, or contact the Migration Agency directly if you are already in the country. You can apply for asylum at a Migration Agency application unit in Stockholm, Malmö or Gothenburg.

In order to apply for asylum, you must:

  • provide identity documents such as a passport to prove your identity
  • be photographed and have your fingerprints taken by the Migration Agency
  • meet with an investigator for an interview into who you are, why you want to apply for asylum, and information on the rights you have while you wait for your application to be considered

If you seek asylum in Sweden, you have a right to accommodation, financial support, health care and education for your children, and are allowed to remain in Sweden while your application for asylum is being considered.