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What happens to your Swedish work permit if you lose your job?

Losing your job is never ideal, but for those in Sweden on a work permit there's another layer of worry. Can you stay in Sweden to look for work? Can you change career? Here's what happens.

What happens to your Swedish work permit if you lose your job?
In most cases, you have a three-month grace period in which to find a new job before you have to leave Sweden. Photo: Tim Aro/TT

First off, the information below only applies to non-EU citizens in Sweden who have a residence permit linked to their work permit: not EU citizens or their family members, and not people with post-Brexit residence status or other types of residence permit (uppehållstillstånd).

The good news, is you won’t be kicked out of Sweden the minute you lose your job: you have a three-month grace period after losing your job to find a new one and apply for a new work permit.

You may not even have to apply for a new work permit if you continue to work in the same occupation with a different employer. If you’ve worked in Sweden for 24 months or longer, you are free to change employer without applying for a new permit, as long as you’re working in the same profession and your old permit is still valid. You will, however, still need to apply for a new permit once your old one expires.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can use the summer to break into the Swedish job market

If you have been working in Sweden for fewer than 24 months, your permit is tied to a specific employer and a specific occupation, so you’ll need to apply for a new permit if you move to a different company.

As long as you have a residence permit, you have that three-month period to find work. You’ll need to show potential employers you have the right to live and work in Sweden.

If you’re successful in finding a new job within three months, you need to apply for a new work permit if you’ve either had the old one for less than 24 months or have changed occupations, regardless of how long you’ve had your permit. You can work while your new permit is being processed as long as you applied before the old one ran out and before the end of the three-month period.

READ ALSO: Over 35,000 summer jobs still available in Sweden

Make sure that your new job fulfils the relevant requirements, such as having been advertised in Sweden, the EU/EEA and Switzerland before you started working there, an acceptable salary for your branch and the relevant insurance. You can see the most up-to-date requirements here.

Things get more complicated if your work permit is due to expire within this three-month grace period. In that case, you need to apply for an extension of your residence and work permit, and to do that you need to be able to provide a signed employment contract from your new employer in your application. Get in touch with the Swedish Migration Agency if this applies to you.

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Over 35,000 summer jobs still available in Sweden

Students and other people looking for summer jobs in Sweden shouldn't give up just yet - there are over 35,000 positions still to be filled, according to the Public Employment Service.

Over 35,000 summer jobs still available in Sweden

“The labour market is so far showing resilience in the economic climate and employers need to hire new people,” said Alva Johansson, labour market analyst at the Public Employment Service.

“Staff is above all needed in the healthcare sector, but also in industry and trade.”

The majority of employers want applicants to have completed upper high school – an equivalent of a Swedish gymnasieskola education.

“My best tips now is to take contact directly with employers who interest you. Tell them you’re interested in working there and what you can offer,” said Omid Rahmanian, job application expert at the Public Employment Service.

Although many foreigners in Sweden need a work permit to work in the country, EU citizens and non-EU citizens here on other permits, such as student permits or permits as accompanying family members, are able to work without needing to apply for a work permit first.

For these groups, a summer job can be a valuable way to gain work experience in Sweden, create a professional network and perhaps even land a permanent job.

Other tips for applying for summer jobs listed by the Public Employment Service include contacting employers directly to let them know how you can be of use to them and why you’re interested in working for them, as well as concrete examples for what you could help them with in a summer job.

They might, for instance, have a lot of customers who speak English, or another language you’re fluent in, where not being Swedish could be an asset. 

It’s also a good idea to research the place you’re applying to, so you can make a good impression in your first contact.

Summer jobs can also be a good way to try something new – maybe you have qualifications from your home country which aren’t recognised in Sweden, or maybe you just fancy a change?

Here are the most common job titles among 125,000 summer jobs advertised by the Public Employment Service between December 2022 and April this year:

  • assistant nurses in home care, care homes and rehabilitation: 27,124 jobs
  • healthcare assistant: 13,489 jobs
  • mechanic: 6720 jobs
  • carer, home carer: 5922 jobs
  • retail worker, specialist trade: 4599 jobs

You can see the Public Employment Service’s list of summer jobs here.