Sweden plans to introduce tests for permanent residency from 2027

Adults seeking permanent residency in Sweden from 2027 will need to pass tests on Swedish language and society first, a new government inquiry has proposed.

Sweden plans to introduce tests for permanent residency from 2027
Migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard. File photo. Photo: Lars Schröder/TT

“For someone living and working in this country, it is essential to have knowledge of the Swedish language and understand the basic conditions of Swedish society,” Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard said.

“It is important that a person understands what responsibilities, but also rights, they have in society,” she added.


The law is not yet officially in place: This is a proposal from the inquiry set up to investigate the introduction of tests on language and societal knowledge for permanent residency, which has now been submitted to the Swedish government, although it suggests putting it in place from July 1st, 2027.

Stenergard described it as “frustrating” that the proposed date of implementation is four years away, although she added that she understands that time is needed for the language and culture tests to be formulated. 

The inquiry report is based on a proposal made by the parliamentary migration committee a few years ago under the previous Social Democrat government and is similar to other language or cultural knowledge requirements in other European countries.


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How are non-EU PhD students affected by Sweden’s work permit rules?

Sweden’s work permit salary threshold has increased by almost 120 percent since October last year. How are non-EU PhD students affected by this?

How are non-EU PhD students affected by Sweden's work permit rules?

Students admitted to doctoral studies in Sweden to earn their PhD here

PhD students on a residence permit for doctoral studies are not affected by the work permit salary requirement (currently a minimum of 80 percent of Sweden’s median salary), but they do have to prove that they have enough money to support themselves.

As of January 1st, 2024, this means they must have at least 10,314 kronor a month for a single adult plus 4,297.50 kronor a month for an accompanying spouse and 2,578.50 kronor a month for each child. 

This can be covered by savings, salary or a stipend.

There are discounts if your employer offers you free food or housing: a discount of 2,865 kronor per month if food is provided or 4,584 per month if housing is provided.

You can find more information about the requirements on the Migration Agency’s website.

What about researchers?

A researcher permit is different from a PhD permit, but researchers aren’t directly affected by the work permit salary requirement either.

According to the Migration Agency, a researcher is a person who has a PhD or is qualified to begin doctoral studies and has been invited by a research funding body that is approved by the Swedish Research Council to conduct research in Sweden. A research funding body can be a Swedish university, institution or a company.

Researchers are exempt from the work permit salary requirement, but they still need to show they have sufficient funds in order to be granted a permit. They must have enough money for the duration of their stay in Sweden as well as enough funds to pay for their travel home – defined as at least 9,700 kronor per month.

More information on the requirements for researchers is available in English on the Migration Agency’s website.

What about when I apply for permanent residency?

PhD students who qualify for permanent residency must, among other things, be able to support themselves financially through either employment or self-employment. This is defined as having at least 6,090 kronor a month left over after paying housing costs.

Unfortunately for PhD students, the only type of employment which counts towards this is legal employment as a work permit holder (unless you have an exemption from the work permit requirement, for example if you are in Sweden on a so-called sambo permit as a family member of someone already in Sweden).

This essentially means that the vast majority of PhD students applying for permanent residency need to meet the new salary threshold in order for their application to be granted. There are plans to exempt newly-qualified PhD students or other graduates from this requirement, but it looks like they won’t come into force until June 1st, 2025 at the earliest.