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

Content on this page:


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 for any visit that is shorter than 90 days. In contrast, a residence permit is for stays 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 (often a few months). 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, as you will be admitted to PhD-studies). As long as you have a passport with corresponding validity, a residence permit for PhD-studies can be issued for four years in one go.

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 (technically a visitor’s permit). A visitor’s permit can only be given for a maximum of one year, after which it cannot be extended. Moreover, you are not allowed to hold employment while on a visitor’s permit.

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. 

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. A work permit is most often issued for two years at a time.

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

Showing your original passport

As of November 2022, applicants for residence permits need to show their original passport in person to a Swedish diplomatic body (or the Migration Agency if the applicant is inside Sweden, for example as part of an extension application) before a residence permit can be granted.

Usually, this means that the relevant embassy/ consulate will summon you to a meeting where this happens. Currently the government is trying to take measures as to streamline this process, and in some places, it might be possible to visit a mobile unit where you can show your passport. Check your inbox for any updates and follow the instructions given by the embassy/ consulate/ Migration Agency.

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 you are not visa exempt, you need to get your residence permit card through the relevant embassy/ consulate. This process might take some additional 4 weeks after your permit application was granted by the Migration Agency and you will need to visit your embassy/ consulate to leave fingerprints and take your photo. Keep close contact with the relevant embassy/ consulate for this process and follow their instructions.

If your application wasn’t successful, contact us and let us know, and we’ll see how we can help. 

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. 

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. You always need to apply for an extension of your permit while that permit is actually valid. If you apply for an extension after your permit has expired, you are not allowed to work during the processing of your new permit. 
  • 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 or other lawful grounds to cross the border. . Otherwise, you risk being “locked out” of Sweden. 

If you stay in your lane and you need an extension of the same type of permit that you previously held – no sweat. As long as you apply correctly, you will be able to stay and work during the processing time of your new permit. 

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

A special word about the job-seeker permits

Once you are done with your PhD-studies or your research, you may apply for the jobseeker permits (a.k.a. the after studies-/research permit). You should apply for this while you are on a valid study/ research permit but after you are in fact done with your studies/ research. This usually leaves you with a very narrow window to apply, so stay on your toes! Moreover, given the above-mentioned rule, is becomes quite tricky to apply for the after studies permit if your studies get delayed and you are waiting for an extension of your study permit by the time your studies are about to finish. As such, it’s very important that you follow your study plan!

The jobseeker permits are always given for one year, no more, no less. You will need to show sufficient bank funds in order to get this permit, along with some sort of intention of looking for work or starting your own business. If you apply correctly, you are allowed to stay and work during the processing of this application, and you are also allowed to work once you get the permit. If you get an employment after you have gotten the permit, you are, however, expected to switch lanes to a work/research permit.

Keep in mind that the job-seeker permit can be tricky when it comes to future changes in permit types (described below). It is perfectly possible (even encouraged) to go from a job-seeker permit to a work permit, but one cannot go from a job-seeker permit back to a permit for studies or research from inside Sweden. Consult the service on this page (under the heading “if you are already in Sweden”) to find out what permits you can apply for from inside Sweden: 

Residence permit for doctoral studies - Migrationsverket

Consult local HR or the migration coordinator if you have further questions. 

Read more about the jobseeker permits:  

Change in permit types (statusbyte)

If you “change lanes” in permit types (meaning that you, for example want to switch from a work permit to a research permit), you can usually stay (and work) in Sweden during such a switch; however, not all switches are allowed from inside the country.

If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to ask your department or the migration coordinator at Lund University, Erik Kvist at erik [dot] kvist [at] er [dot] lu [dot] se

Permanent residency

After some time in the country on either work permits, study permits for PhD-studies or research permits, you might qualify for permanent residency. There are two tracks to a permanent residence permit:

1 The “normal track”

If you have spent four out of the past seven years on any of the permits listed above (or a combination of them) you fulfill the longevity aspect of being granted a permanent residence permit according to domestic Swedish legislation. It is important that the permits have been used for four full years for the purpose of which they were issued. This means that if you were issued a study permit in August, but your studies actually started in September, September marks the start of the four- year qualification period. The four/ seven- rule safeguards your eligibility, in the event that you, for example, need a jobseeker permit after your studies/research. 

On top of the longevity requirement, you need at least 12 months of employment to show that you can support yourself financially. The employment has to be taxable in Sweden, so you cannot, for example, count a Danish job toward your eligibility in this regard. These 12 months are also measured as of the day of the assessment of your application. Given the Migration Agency’s long processing times, this means that you most likely need to have an employment that is at least 18 months long by the time of your application. Your application should contain a second- hand claim, stating that if you are not deemed eligible for permanent residency, you wish for the Migration Agency to assess your right to a new temporary permit instead (based on the respective purpose of your continued stay, be it work, studies, research or family reunification).

You are allowed to work during the processing of this case.

If you fulfill the criteria, but have quite some time left on a temporary permit, apply toward the end of that permit as you may risk rejection if you apply too early. The rationale behind this is that you can’t have two valid permits at the same time. 

For more information about this process, read here:

Special requirements for permanent residence permits (Migrationsverket)

2 The route based on EU-law, called “Status as long term resident”

This is technically a recognition of a legal status, but it also comes automatically with a permanent residence permit. The eligibility criteria for this are slightly different from that of the track above. First of all, the qualification period is five years of continuous residence on certain types of residence permits. These are, for example, work permits, study permits for PhD studies and research permits, but interestingly and famously not the after studies/ research permits. This means that if you, for example, spend five years here on research permits and then get the after research permit, you break the streak of continuous residence and the qualification period starts over again!

Just as with the normal track described above, you also need to show “long- term employment”. The Migration Agency has not clearly defined what this means, but it should be stated that the concept is a bit more flexible than the normal route. In this process, your family members financial situation and employment also weigh in, for better and for worse, and you may be able to count, for example, unemployment benefits toward your financial eligibility.

Given that you have applied for this correctly (while on a valid permit), you are allowed to work during the processing of the case, but please note that this option does not come with the possibility of second hand motions, such as the “normal” track does. This means that the status as long term resident is an all- or- nothing game. Either you get it, or you don’t. This means that it can be a good idea to lodge another permit application simultaneously, so you have something to fall back on, just in case. In such an application, you may say that you wish for the application for status as long-term resident to be processed first and that the second application is your back-up in case the first one gets denied.

Because this route is primarily a recognition of a legal status rather than a question of a residence permit (you just happen to get a permanent permit if you get the status), you are allowed to apply whenever you want, regardless of whether you have a temporary permit with much validity left, which is another difference to track 1.

To read and learn more about this track, please see the following information:

Long-term resident status in Sweden (Migrationsverket)

Contact and final words of advice

For guidance and all types of documentation when it comes to migration matters, your first point of contact should be your local HR-department. If you do not know who your point of contact is in HR, ask your manager. If HR needs further help, they will contact the Migration Coordinator at External Relations (Erik Kvist, erik [dot] kvist [at] er [dot] lu [dot] se).

You are also, of course, welcome to contact the Migration Coordinator directly, but for any matter concerning your employment, HR needs to be involved.  

Another good resource is the SULF (union’s) webpage on these matters:

Permanent residence permit (SULF)

And finally, it should be stated that the information on this page is not to be considered comprehensive to all aspects of a person’s migration process. It is very important to find answers to one’s own situation. The individual’s responsibility in this regard is actually regulated in Swedish law (20 kap. Utlänningslagen) and it is illegal to stay and work in Sweden without the right kind of permit.  

But don’t worry too much about this! Good support is available and you should not get in trouble if you follow relevant advice and stay mindful of your permit’s validity and what it should be used for! A good first step is to save all documentation pertaining to your migration process(es), particularly all decisions from the Migration Agency.


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

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