Staying in Sweden longer than three months Posted by Stephen Maconi on Oct 6, 2011 in education, Living in Sweden, Working in Sweden
If you’re planning to visit Sweden for any given period of time, depending on which country you’re from, you may need a visum, or visa, to get into the country. EU citizens/residents don’t need any form of visa, regardless of how long they stay, because they have what is known as uppehållsrätt, or right of residence, in Sweden (as well as every other EU country). The EU is made up of the following countries (from Wikipedia):
Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Great Britain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Austria.
People with citizenship/residence outside of the EU have a genuine disadvantage in that we are only allowed to stay within the Schengen Area (almost the entire EU plus Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) for a maximum of 90 days per 6 months without what is known as ett uppehållstillstånd, or a residence permit. (People from most countries are also required to have a visa, which is applied for before applying for studies.) Unfortunately, applications for residence permits take several months to process, a length of time which can vary from season to season and purpose to purpose.
According to utlänningslagen, or the immigration law, ett uppehållstillstånd must be applied for from outside of Sweden, and the applicant must remain outside of Sweden while they wait for a decision from Migrationsverket, or the Swedish Migration Board.
For those of you who plan to work in Sweden, this should be no problem because your employer will be aware that it takes time. If you are planning to pursue studies taught in English, you’re probably also fine because your acceptance letter will arrive in time for you to apply and receive your permit before you take off. Students who will pursue studies taught in Swedish, though, have a much more complicated process to go through:
1) First, you’ll need to prove that your Swedish skills are at a high enough level to understand course material and lectures, so you will have to take a Tisus (Test i svenska för utländska studerande) test, which is only given twice a year at scattered locations around the world (mostly universities);
2) You will receive notice of acceptance to your university of choice in July, which clearly doesn’t offer enough time to get you a residence permit, so you will have to apply for your residence permit without submitting an acceptance letter and then send it in later (which may or may not work, depending on how cooperative your Swedish embassy/consulate is);
3) You will have to pay a tuition fee in order to be granted your residence permit. (Non-EU students who have started a program or course before the current Autumn 2011 semester do not have to pay, but students starting this semester do.)
As you can see, it can get very twisty. You can cheat and enter Sweden without your residence permit (as long as you have your visa documentation with you, if citizens of your country need it) and pick it up (it comes as a card) after you’ve arrived, but this is not actually allowed and if the Migration Board notices this, you might be denied your residence permit. Since I’m from the US, I didn’t need a visa to come here so they would not have noticed if I came before I received my residence permit, but it may be different for those who require a visa. But in general, it is of course best to follow the rules in order to avoid complicating things, even if it is seemingly impossible considering the disorganization of the immigration system!
Sweden also gives residence permits for familial connections (your father’s brother in-law’s cousin unforunately doesn’t count; I’ve tried), performing as a musician or other artist (if you’re staying longer than 90 days or getting paid in any way), sportsmanship, berry picking (weird, I know), au pair, entrepreneurship, marriage/civil union, and political asylum. Check the Migration Board’s website (http://www.migrationsverket.se/) for more information!
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