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Working in Sweden: five reasons to protect your income

Uncertainty is a fact of life even at the best of times and much of what we thought was certain or secure has proven to have shaky foundations over the past couple of years. Long-term unemployment in Sweden recently hit a record level of 190,000, while tens of millions of jobs have been lost worldwide due to the pandemic.

Working in Sweden: five reasons to protect your income
Photo: Getty Images

While unemployment insurance is compulsory in most of the EU and the UK, it’s partially voluntary in Sweden. To be entitled to the full income insurance benefits available in Sweden, you have to join an a-kassa, an unemployment fund that pays income-related insurance benefits.

Little wonder that Eva Nordmark, Sweden’s Minister for Employment, encouraged all workers in Sweden to join an a-kassa unemployment fund during the pandemic. The Local has partnered with Akademikernas a-kassa, Sweden’s biggest provider for university graduates, to give you five reasons why it still makes sense to take her advice, whatever the future brings.

Safeguard yourself against unforeseen events by joining Akademikernas a-kassa today

1. Flexibility

Sweden is well-known for providing a generous social safety net. But few expats arrive with much idea of how it all works in practice. A-kassa funds are a crucial part of the Swedish system, providing members with income-related unemployment benefits when needed. You’re eligible to join if you’re a university graduate and currently work – or have previously worked – in Sweden, the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

Akademikernas a-kassa, one of the biggest funds, is specifically for people who graduated from higher education. Your profession is irrelevant. If you have a bachelor’s degree and work in Sweden, the fund is for you. Nor does it matter if you change your line of work or set up your own business; you can stay with the fund for your whole career. If you are working and currently studying for a bachelor’s degree, you can also join now.

2. Affordability

It may be designed for people with above-average earning potential – but that doesn’t mean it’s expensive. The fee to join Akademikernas a-kassa is 130 kronor per month. Everyone pays the same rate because the fund has over 750,000 members and unemployment among them is low.

It is sometimes necessary to be in an a-kassa to get a loan, for instance for a mortgage from a bank, meaning you may get even more value for your money.

Photo: Getty Image

3. Generosity

As of January 2021, you need to have been a member for one year before you can claim compensation based on your income. You can receive up to 80 percent of your previous salary with a ceiling of 1,200 kronor per day before tax (up from 910 kronor per day before the pandemic) for the first 100 days. If you had an average monthly salary of at least 33,000 kronor in the last year, you qualify for the maximum. From day 101, the maximum compensation is 1,000 kronor before tax per day.

Benefits paid to qualifying members now begin from day one, rather than day seven, as they have in the past.

You can receive payment for five days a week over a period of 300 days – that’s around 14 months. If you are a parent with children under 18, the maximum period is 450 days. Everyone who qualifies receives income-related benefits without any means-testing. 

Get peace of mind and protect yourself and your loved ones with Akademikernas a-kassa

4. Covering the self-employed

Every economy needs its entrepreneurs. But in times of insecurity, the self-employed often feel they face extra burdens. This is no secret in forward-thinking Sweden; the self-employed have been entitled to join an a-kassa for almost 50 years.

As a member of Akademikernas a-kassa, if you start a business and it does not go as hoped your unemployment pay can be based on the income of your previous job (up to 24 months after leaving). 

5. Nobody knows the future

As we have seen over the last two years, the world – and our own personal circumstances – can change very quickly. There is every reason for individuals, as well as nations, to want to be prepared.

Looking further ahead, being a member of an a-kassa could offer you protection in all kinds of unexpected or unplanned situations. With Akademikernas a-kassa, you can even claim during time between jobs if you take things into your own hands some day and choose to switch careers. 

Take a step towards stability and security in uncertain times, by joining Akademikernas a-kassa

For members

RESIDENCY PERMITS

FACT CHECK: Can you get a residency permit if you buy property in Sweden?

There have been several reports of foreigners who bought Swedish property after they were falsely made to believe that it would speed up their process towards a Swedish residency permit. But what do the rules actually say?

FACT CHECK: Can you get a residency permit if you buy property in Sweden?

I’ve never been told buying property in Sweden will give me a residence permit. Is this really a thing?

The short answer is a firm no, but despite this there has been a series of incidents of non-EU foreigners who were allegedly tricked into buying property in Sweden before moving, believing that owning property would make them eligible for a Swedish residence permit.

What’s the story? 

These incidents most recently grabbed headlines in June 2024, when public broadcaster SVT reported that a number of properties in Sweden had been sold to buyers in the Middle East well over market price, after the buyers were led to believe it would help them gain residence permits. The properties are all linked to businessman Kadry El Naggar, who runs the company Sweden for Investment.

As far back as 2013, SVT reported that another company owned by El Naggar, Swedish Connections, at the time told buyers in Egypt that buying property in Sweden would help speed up the process of getting a residence permit or even Swedish citizenship.

El Naggar has never been convicted of any crimes, but he has been sued by two previous buyers. In one of the cases, the purchase was cancelled, and the other buyer won their court case. He denied to SVT that his company offers its services under false pretence.

“I buy old houses and sell them on. I don’t sell permanent residency permits. That’s clear if you look at our sites,” he told SVT.

A note on his website reads “we do not issue visas or guarantee any residence permits as these are determined individually by the Swedish Migration Board”. But SVT reports that in several social media posts, El Naggar falsely claims that all foreigners need to get a Swedish residency permit is a bank statement showing a balance of at least 20,000 dollars (210,660 kronor), as well as a company and property.

How many properties have they sold?

According to SVT, there are 50 properties up and down the country linked to El Naggar, his wife or their company, with 32 of those in Norrland. Thirty-six properties currently have one or more foreign owners, with a total of 53 owners registered as living outside of Sweden.

The broadcaster also linked 37 different Sweden-registered companies to these owners, who are registered as living in a number of different countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Palestine.

Many of the properties are in relatively bad condition, sold via executive auction through the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden).

One pharmacist from Egypt told SVT he had paid 188,000 kronor for a home in the village of Undrom outside Sollefteå in northern Sweden, with the dream of giving his children a better life, after Facebook adverts promised that he could get residency through buying a property.

He hasn’t even been able to visit his house in Undrom due to the cost of travelling to Sweden from Saudi Arabia, where he lives. 

He told SVT he had been warned by someone else who had been in a similar situation just before he was due to make the final payment on the home, and he then demanded to cancel the purchase, but the company refused. He has now hired lawyers in Egypt and Sweden.

“We’ve seen that this method has been ongoing for a while,” Migration Agency official Anette Bäcklund told SVT.

“And all of those people who have applied for a residence permit from us have had their applications denied. You need to follow certain rules to qualify for a residence permit, and that hasn’t been the case in these cases.”

How do I move to Sweden as an entrepreneur or investor?

It is possible to get a temporary residence permit as a self-employed person in Sweden, and permit holders who can support themselves and their families are eligible for permanent residency after just two years, but this requires more than just having a high enough bank balance, registering a company in Sweden and owning a property.

According to the Migration Agency, self-employed people must meet the following requirements in order to be granted a two-year residence permit:

  • hold a valid passport
  • show you have good experience of your industry and previous experience of running your own company
  • show you have relevant knowledge of Swedish or English. For example, if you have contact with a number of suppliers or customers in Sweden, you need to be able to speak Swedish to a very high level
  • prove that you are in charge of running the company and that you have decisive influence for it
  • prove that you have enough money to support yourself and any family accompanying you (200,000 kronor for you, 100,000 kronor for an accompanying partner or spouse and 50,000 kronor for each accompanying child)
  • show a credible foundation for your budget
  • show that you have built a network of customers or other business network
  • pay a fee in most cases (equal to the fee for a work permit)

The Migration Agency will then assess your business plans to determine whether or not you should be granted a permit. There is no requirement for applicants to own a property in Sweden.

If you are granted a two-year permit and want to apply for permanent residency once it runs out, there are further requirements. You will need to prove that you are still running the company, are complying with good accounting practices and have all the necessary permits for the business, among other things, at the time you renew your permit. 

Permanent residency applicants need to prove that they and their family have been living in “reasonable” housing conditions, but there is no stipulation that they must own this home.

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