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IMMIGRATION

Card, status, or permit? The different types of permanent residence document in Sweden

There are multiple types of permanent residence documents in Sweden, which can lead to confusion about residency status. The application processes and rights granted depend on your citizenship and what you're doing in Sweden.

Sweden's law on residence permits (uppehåstillstånd)
Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

Certificate of permanent right of residence (Intyg om permanent uppehållsrätt)

For EU/EEA citizens

This applies to EU or EEA citizens who have lived in Sweden with right of residence under EU law for at least five years. EU/EEA citizens have right of residence in Sweden if they work, study, run their own business or have sufficient funds to support themselves, and their family members also have right of residence as long as they live together in Sweden. After five years, they automatically gain permanent right of residence.

A certificate of permanent residence is a document which shows that the holder has permanent right of residence. This certificate documents the residency status the holder already has, rather than granting a new residency status. It’s not a necessity in Sweden, because your EU citizenship is enough to grant you permanent right of residence after five years, but it may be used when contacting other national authorities, for example. It can be ordered from the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) and is free. Certificates of permanent right of residence can only be issued to those who have (or had) right of residence as EU/EEA citizens.

You can lose your permanent right of residence if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Permanent residence card (Permanent uppehållskort)

For non-EU/EEA citizens living with a non-Swedish EU/EEA citizen

Permanent residence cards apply to non-EU/EEA citizens (also referred to as third country citizens) who have lived in Sweden continuously for at least five years together with an EU/EEA citizen who has right of residence (discussed above). Swedes are not usually considered EU/EEA citizens in this context, but Swedes who have recently lived in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland may qualify.

A permanent residence card shows that a non-EU/EEA citizen has the permanent right to live and work in Sweden through living with an EU/EEA citizen in Sweden for over five years. It is free to apply for. While the EU/EEA family member does not need to apply for the permanent residence certificate, the non-EU/EEA member does need to apply for the card, because they are more likely to need to prove their right of residence.

You can lose your permanent residence card if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Note: a permanent residence card (permanent uppehållskort) is not the same as a permanent residence permit card (permanent uppehållstillståndskort), discussed below.

Permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd/PUT) and permanent residence permit card (Permanent uppehållstillståndskort/PUT-kort)

For EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens

This applies to non-EU/EEA citizens, as well as EU/EEA citizens who do not qualify for right of residence under EU rules, but qualify for a residence permit under Swedish rules (e.g. if they are not working, studying or able to support themselves, but moved to Sweden as a family member of a Swedish citizen).

Permanent residence permits can be granted to both EU and non-EU citizens. A permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd) is a permit granted by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) under Swedish law, rather than under EU law.

There are different permits for workers, students, family members and researchers, and there are certain specific criteria that must be met (for example, workers must earn above a salary threshold) as well as a fee to pay.

If the permit is granted, the applicant will receive a residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort/UT-kort). After between two or four years depending on your type of permit, residence permit holders can apply for a permanent residence permit card.

In most cases, you will have to apply for a work permit if you also wish to work, but check with the Swedish Migration Agency if you are unsure.

Although described as a permanent residence permit, this residence permit can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than one year. If you inform the Swedish Migration Agency before you depart, you can be away from Sweden for up to two years before losing your residence permit. 

Permanent residence status (permanent uppehållsstatus) and residence status (uppehållsstatus)

For British citizens and their family members who moved before the Brexit transition period ended

This only applies to British citizens after Brexit, and it is available to those Brits and their close family members who moved to Sweden and were resident under EU law (ie. were working, studying, or had the means to support themselves) before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020.

Brits and their family members who fulfil the requirements were until December 31st 2021 able to apply for either residence status or permanent residence status, depending on how long they have been living in Sweden. Those who have lived in Sweden for at least five years with EU right of residence can receive permanent residence status; those who have lived in Sweden a shorter time receive temporary residence status which can be upgraded to permanent once they reach the five-year mark. The post-Brexit residence status grants them the same rights they had under EU law regarding living and working in Sweden, meaning that they do not need to meet the stricter requirements for permanent residence permit holders.

You lose the permanent residence status if you are away from Sweden for five years or more.

Swedish citizenship

The only type of residence document which is truly permanent – as in, it cannot be revoked – is Swedish citizenship. The rules for becoming a Swedish citizen vary somewhat depending on whether you are a Nordic, EU or non-EU citizen, but as a general rule you must have lived in Sweden for five consecutive years (or three if you live with a Swedish partner), have lived an “orderly” life during your time in Sweden (no large debts or crimes), be over 18 and be able to verify your identity. 

Member comments

  1. what if you want to retire here permanently? I.e own a property and can support yourself (pension, own funds etc.)

    1. I am also interested in an answer to this question as I will be in the same situation (able to support myself and spouse from retirement funds) when I retire.

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For members

WORK PERMITS

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Many foreigners living in Sweden need to have a residence permit to live in the country legally. Permits are issued for two years at a time and can be renewed 30 days before expiry, at the earliest. But with waiting times exceeding 8 months for many applicants, just what are your rights while you wait to hear back?

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Can I keep working in Sweden?

It depends. If you have a residence permit which allows you to work in Sweden, have held that residence permit for at least six months and apply for an extension before your old permit expires, you still have the right to work in Sweden while you wait for the Migration Agency to make a decision on your permit application.

You can apply for a new residence permit 30 days before your old permit expires, at the earliest, and you can’t get a new residence permit before your old one has run out.

Can I leave Sweden?

Technically you can, but it might not be a good idea. This is due to the fact that if you leave Sweden after your residence permit has expired, it can be difficult to enter Sweden again before your new permit is granted, even if you can prove that you’ve applied for a new one.

In the worst-case scenario, you could be denied entry to Sweden at the border and forced to wait in another country until your new residence permit is granted. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can, in some cases, apply for a national visa allowing you to re-enter Sweden. These are only granted under exceptional circumstances, and must be applied for at a Swedish embassy or general consulate in the country you are staying in. If you are not granted a national visa to re-enter Sweden, you can’t appeal the decision, meaning you’ll have to wait until your residence permit is approved before you can re-enter Sweden.

The Migration Agency writes on its website that you should only leave Sweden while your application is being processed “in exceptional cases, and if you really have to”.

It lists some examples of exceptional cases as “sudden illness, death in the family or important work-related assignments”, adding that you may need to provide proof of your reason for travelling to the embassy when you apply for a national visa to re-enter Sweden.

What if I come from a visa-free country?

If you come from a visa-free country, you are able to re-enter Sweden without needing a visa, but you may run into issues anyway, as visa-free non-EU citizens entering Schengen are only allowed to stay in the bloc for 90 days in every 180 before a visa is required.

If you are a member of this group and you stay in Schengen for longer than 90 days without a visa, you could be labelled an “overstayer”, which can cause issues entering other countries, as well as applying for a visa or residence permit in the future.

The Migration Agency told The Local that “a visa-free person waiting for a decision in their extension application can leave Sweden and return, as long as they have visa-free days left to use”.

“However, an extension application usually requires the individual to be located in Sweden,” the Agency wrote. “Travelling abroad can, in some cases, have an effect on the decision whether to extend a residence permit or not, in a way which is negative for the applicant, but this decision is made on an individual case basis (it’s not possible to say a general rule).”

“The right to travel into the Schengen area for short visits is not affected, as long as the person still has visa-free days left.”

The Local has contacted the Migration Agency to clarify whether days spent in Sweden count towards the 90-day limit, and will update this article accordingly once we receive a response.

Does this apply to me if I have a permanent residence permit?

No. This only applies to people in Sweden holding temporary residence permits. If you have a permanent residence permit and your residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort or UT-kort) expires, you just need to book an appointment at the Migration Agency to have your picture and fingerprints taken for a new card.

How long is the processing time for residence permit renewals?

It varies. For people renewing a residence permit to live with someone in Sweden, for example, the Migration Agency states that 75 percent of recent cases received an answer within eight months.

For work permit extensions, it varies. In some branches, 75 percent of applicants received a response after 17 months, others only had to wait five.

This means that some people waiting to extend their residence permits could be discouraged from leaving Sweden for almost a year and a half, unless they are facing “exceptional circumstances”.

You can see how long it is likely to take in your case here.

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