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Guide to International Staff at Lund University: Your migration status in Sweden. 

Content on this page:


Notice about changed regulations regarding permanent residence permits

On July 20th 2021, new rules came into effect which makes it considerably more difficult to get a permanent residence permit in Sweden. As of this date, applicants will need to show an ability to support themselves financially through employment for at least 18 months into the future, measured from the day of assessment from the Migration Agency’s side.

The new rules apply (retroactively) to all categories of applicants, but it disproportionately effects doctoral students and researchers because of their oftentimes temporary forms of employment. The retroactive application of the rules means that you will be subject to the new requirements if you have an open application at the Migration Agency, regardless of whether you applied for a permanent residence permit before or after the 20th of July.

For more information, see Special requi­re­ments for perma­nent resi­dence permits - Swedish Migration Agency ( Lund university (among many other colleges and universities) opposes this new policy and is doing advocacy work for its employees in an attempt to mitigate the new requirements.

It is important to notice, however, that even if you are not eligible for a permanent residence permit according to the new rules, you can still get temporary permits to legalize your stay here. If you are just about to finish your doctoral studies and want to stay in Sweden, you might want to consider the “after research”- permit.

For more information, see  Resi­dence permit after rese­arch - Swedish Migration Agency (

Long- term residence status

In the context of the new legal changes on the migration field, it is important to mention that there is a parallel way to obtaining a permanent residence permit in Sweden. This route is called having "Long- term residence status". The rules in this context have not been subject to the above-mentioned changes but are the same since before the summer of 2021.

If you get the long- term residence status, you will also automatically get a permanent residence permit. To qualify, you must have lived continuously in Sweden for five years, have had a residence permit (or legal residence in Sweden on other grounds) for the previous five years and be able to support yourself and your family.

The positive thing with this route is that you can show financial stability through other ways than just employment. You can, for example, show that you can sustain yourself financially through "secure returns of capital". Please note, however, that not all residence permit types can be counted toward the required five years of residency to get this status. A residence permit for doctoral studies can be counted toward the five years. A residence permit for master's studies, however, cannot.

For more information, please see: Long-term resident status in Sweden - Swedish Migration Agency (


Welcome to Sweden! Whether it is PhD-studies, research, teaching or administrative tasks that brings you to Lund University, we sincerely hope that you enjoy your time with us. 

As in all matters Swedish, it is paramount that you yourself take responsibility. In this case of your migration status in Sweden. This guide will help you understand, and take, the necessary steps towards securing your legal migration status in Sweden. 

EU-citizens and citizens from Nordic countries can stop reading, as you can work and live in Sweden without having a residence/work permit.

There is more information for EU citizens on the Swedish Migration Agency website  

Citizens from Switzerland need to follow special rules in order to work and/or live in Sweden.

Read more about resi­dence permits for Swiss citizens on the Swedish Migration Agency website

How to secure a residence permit 

First, you need to ascertain whether or not you need to apply for a residence permit or a visa. These terms are the source of much confusion, as they are similar but oftentimes incorrectly used interchangeably. So, let’s ascertain the difference!

In short terms, a visa is only applicable when visiting Sweden, for instance for holiday or to attend a conference. This applies for any visit that is shorter than 90 days. In contrast, a residence permit gives you exactly that; the right to reside in Sweden, and becomes applicable when you wish to reside here for longer than 90 days for studies, research, work or to be with a loved one. Residence permits can either be temporary or permanent, and match the reasons for your stay in Sweden. 

Lund University will not be able to actually employ you before you have a residence permit (it’s against Swedish law), so please don’t dwell…

Please visit the Migration Agency website where you’ll find everything you need to know regarding application procedures, necessary documents, fees, waiting times, and more.

Swedish Migration Agency Website

Also, please contact your (future) department at Lund University in order to get the necessary documents connected to your (future) workplace. The department will hopefully know which ones, since we’ve compiled a checklist for them to follow. 

If you’re thinking about applying for a residence permit by sending in actual paperwork via mail, please think again. Use the online application service instead; your application will be processed much faster.

If you’re bringing your family, it’s time to read up on what the Migration Agency says about their permits and documents connected to these. Among other things, you’ll need to get hold of documents that prove the family links; marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc. Please check that the copies comply with the Migration Agency’s requirements.

Now to a vital part of the jigsaw puzzle: your passports. See to it that you get new ones for the whole family before you do anything else. You’ll not get permits for a longer period than your passports’ duration (this goes for the entire family). Make sure that copies of any passports are high-quality and show all vital information (personal data, entry stamps, etc). 

Every residence permit costs money (application fees are between 1,000 - 2,000 SEK).

The application process will take time. See to it that you have an e-mail address which the Migration Agency can use during the entire process – all relevant communication will go to this e-mail address. Please check SPAM-filters now and again, too!

Please don’t send in your application for a permit unless you are 100% sure that it is correct and complete. Incomplete applications take many more months to process, plus extra work, energy and money both for you and your (future) department.

Always keep your case number (which you receive from the Migration Agency when they’ve started processing your application) near and use that in any contact with the Agency. 

How long do you have to wait for your decision? Difficult to say, unfortunately.

You can however check the current waiting times on Swedish Migration Agency website.

Permit types

Doctoral students (on scholarships or future employees at LU) should apply for a residence permit for studies (in the eyes of the Migration Agency, you are considered to be a student).

You can find more information on how to apply on the Swedish Migration Agency website. 

If you’re currently conducting doctoral studies abroad, but will spending part of those studies in Sweden, you need to get a residence permit as a doctoral exchange student.

Read more about visi­ting Sweden for studies and rese­arch on the Swedish Migration Agency website. 

If your position at Lund University will consist mainly of research (more than 50% of your time), you should apply for a residence permit for researchers. Remember, you can now also apply for a separate residence permit for the period after you’ve completed your research.

Read more about resi­dence permits for rese­ar­chers on the Swedish Migration Agency website

If your position at Lund University won’t primarily be research but instead teaching or administrative tasks (for example, but not only, lecturer, research engineer, project assistant) you should instead apply for a work permit.

Read more about how to apply for a work permit on the Swedish Migration Agency website.

After the decision

Congratulations! Your residence permit was approved, and you are now ready to arrive and begin your employment at Lund University.

Contact your (future) department and let them know that we can start the employment process. 

In order to show your legal migration status in Sweden, you will need a residence permit card. Depending on your visa eligibility, you will either need to have the card issued before you enter Sweden, or not.

Please check the Swedish Government’s website to see if you need a visa, and therefore the residence permit card, issued before your arrival. If you don’t, you’re free to have your card issued here in Sweden, after arrival.

List of foreign citizens who require Visa for entry into Sweden 

You can book an appointment to have your residence permit card issued in Sweden on the Migration Agency website. 

Contact the Swedish Migration Agency to book an appoint­ment

If your application wasn’t successful, contact us and let us know, and we’ll help you through the appeals process. 

Arriving in Sweden

Whilst you’re here, we can’t resist giving you more information regarding your arrival, and future life, in Sweden. By now, you have most probably had a look at the practical aspect of moving, such as the housing situation, schools, etc.

We would also like to highlight three things we know can get tricky when you arrive in Sweden, and need special attention:

  • Opening a bank account in Sweden requires several steps and much patience.
    Read more about getting a Swedish bank account.
  • Population registration at the Swedish Tax Agency – you’ll get the much needed Swedish personal identity number.
  • Check up on insurances for you and your family, it can be wise to have insurance with you from your home country. You can not buy private health insurance in Sweden and it might take a while before you and your family get into the Swedish Social Security system.
    Read more about insurance for international staff at the Lund University Staff pages
  • Housing situation in Lund: There are useful links in the “Plan your stay”-guide. You might want to mentally prepare yourself for moving around before you can settle for a longer period of time. 

Talking of getting settled. We do have a guide for this, too: 

Getting settled - step by step

Permit extensions 

It is most likely you will need to extend your permit once you have arrived and worked here for a while. 

Permits for doctoral students are for two years only; the same goes for work permits. The extension process can be just as nerve-wracking as the first one, for different reasons. However, if you follow the simple rules below, you will be able to navigate the process (hopefully) without any trouble. In order to get started with your extensions, visit the same Migration Agency web page you did when applying the first time (please see above).

  • Rule one: Apply in time. We recommend that you send in your application well in advance, but please check the Migration Agency website to see if there are any time limits to applying – we don’t want you to apply too early, either. 
  • Rule two: Send in a complete and correct application. If you don’t, you will have to wait for a long time. 
  • Rule three: Don’t go abroad if you are in between two permits – i.e. if you don’t have a valid permit. Otherwise, you risk being “locked out” of Sweden. 

You are allowed to stay, and work, in Sweden for as long as it takes the Migration Agency to process your application even if your previous permit expires before you get a new one. 

An extended permit costs money as well, about 1,000 – 2,000 SEK. 

Change in permit types (statusbyte)

The general rule for first time permit applications (not extensions) is that the applicant must apply from outside of Sweden, except for when claiming asylum. However, if you’re currently in Sweden on one kind of permit, but wish to change to another, you can look into the ability to do so without having to leave the country – in Swedish migration law terminology this is called statusbyte. This is sadly not guaranteed, and depends on what kind of permits you are transitioning to and from (and, importantly, in what order). It can also depend on personal circumstances. 

If you’re looking to change permits from inside Sweden, please reach out to us and we’ll help you figure out if this is possible.


Erik Kvist
International Migration Coordinator 
erik [dot] kvist [at] er [dot] lu [dot] se

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