For the past 1.5 months, I had a daily morning routine. I would wake up, get ready for work, maybe drink some coffee and sit in front of my computer. The first thing I do on my computer is going to Migrationsverket and check the status of my application for permanent residence. I did this day in, day out, without a fail. One day – a couple of weeks ago –, I did the same, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a decision has been made in my case. Shortly after that, I learned it was a positive decision, I am now officially a permanent resident of the Kingdom of Sweden.
Migrating to a new country is a unique experience that comes with ups and downs, perks and challenges, not to mention the emotional roll coaster, and moving to Sweden is no different. As an immigrant, one of the questions you ask yourself early on is, do I want to settle in this new country and build a home in it? If the answer is yes, and you are in a European country*, then you need a permanent residence permit. In this post, I will share a bit about my journey towards permanent residence, and give you some tips and pointers that might make your own journey a bit easier.
A bit of background before we delve into the details. I came to Sweden in August 2016 to study a master's degree in information security. During the final days of my master's degree, I landed a job as a security architect for a great network security company and worked for them for exactly two years. I moved to Stockholm in March 2020 – couldn't have picked a worse time for such a move – and started working a security engineer for my current employer. Six years later (and four years of work permits), I qualified for permanent residence, and it was time to kick-start the process.
You can qualify for permanent residence in Sweden through multiple different avenues, in this post, I will focus on the process of getting a PR through work. To qualify for permanent residence in Sweden, you must have:
- Had a work permit for four years (48 months).
- No criminal records or marks from unpaid debts (Betalningsanmärkning).
- A permanent employment contract or sufficient financial means to support yourself and family.
- A housing contract.
The process is quite straightforward:
- Your employer initiates the application. They can either apply direct to Migrationsverket, or hire a certified agency to handle the application on their (and your) behalf.
- Once the application is initiated, you need to fill in a form and provide numerous documents. If you are applying directly, you will have to upload these yourself on the Migrationsverket website. If you are applying through an agency, you provide the documents and information to them, and they will handle uploading them to Migrationsverket.
- Once all documents are uploaded, the waiting begins. Depending on many factors, you will wait somewhere between two weeks and two years (yes, sometimes it can take that long).
- Migrationsverket will reach out to you (or the agency) if they have questions or require more documents.
- Once Migrationsverket decides on your case, you will see the updated status online (or by email from your agency). You can't see the decision itself on the online portal (they will mail it to you via normal post). However, if you are applying through an agency, they will have almost immediate access to the decision and can share it with you.
- If your application is granted, you book an appointment to give your fingerprints and picture for the new residence card. IF it was rejected, you need to start working on your appeal.
In-house or Outsourced?
Whenever you apply for a permit extension, you have two options in terms of how you file your application:
- You can do it yourself. You collect the documents, fill in the forms, and apply online or by posting your application. This consumes a lot of time and might result in mistakes, not to mention the waiting time for these applications is much longer (unless your company is certified).
- Your employer can contract an agency to handle the application on your behalf. In this case, you will only provide the required documents, fill in some forms, and the agency will take care of the application. Those agencies are usually certified, which means your processing time will be quite short.
Numerous documents are required for an extension, and they can take some time to find, scan, and maybe sign. The following list includes the critical documents that you must provide in your application:
- A copy of your passport.
- Your payslips for the past four years.
- Income Control documents from the tax agency for the past four or five years.
- Insurance certificates for all the years you have been working in Sweden.
- Your CV.
- A Work Permit Extension questionnaire.
- A signed power of attorney document
- Employment certificates from all of your employers in Sweden.
- Previous decisions from the migration agency.
- The contract to your house or flat.
- Bills tied to your current address (internet, electricity).
My employer opted to use an external agency to handle my application. Once they initiated the engagement with the agency, I was contacted by a consultant that explained how things work and provided me with a list of documents and forms that I need to provide/fill before they can submit my application.
The list had so many documents and took me more than two weeks to collect, scan, and upload to their portal. Once that done, my application was submitted a couple of days before the expiration date of my permit (super crucial; otherwise I would have lost my right to continue working) and then it was time to wait.
It took about seven weeks before I got a decision, and to my delight, it was a positive one. Once I had the decision, I booked an appointment to give my fingerprints and picture for my new residence card. 10 days later, the card arrived in my mailbox.
The consultant from the agency truly made this process less stressful, and I have no doubt their diligence with paperwork collection and form accuracy has contributed to the positive decision. If your employer offers such an option, take it.
Such A Long Road
You need to live and work in Sweden for four years before you can apply for permanent residence. Since I moved to Sweden as a student (and those permits don't count), this meant I needed a total of six years before I qualified to apply for permanent residence. It's such a long road, full of stress, uncertainty, and anxiety, and I am so damn glad it's finally over.
* Similar system (4y for PR) is used in other countries outside the EU.