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IMMIGRATION

What should international parents know about Sweden’s migration law?

Swedish migration law changed in 2021. Now, everyone applying for a non-EU residence permit must do so with valid photo ID – even children. Read on to see what international parents who have a baby in Sweden should know about this law, and how it will affect you.

a woman carrying a baby in a woven wrap
Sweden's new immigration law has had unexpected consequences for some international parents. Photo: Sofia Sabel/imagebank.sweden.se

Who is affected?

This article addresses residence permits for non-EU/EEA citizens – if you are from the EU or EEA you do not need to apply for a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) and you will have EU right of residence (uppehållsrätt) instead, meaning these changes do not affect you or your children – as long as your child also has EU or EEA citizenship.

See here for an explainer on the different kinds of residency in Sweden if you’re not sure which type you have.

What has changed?

This new law has changed residence permit applications in a number of ways. The main change is that, as a rule, residence permits are now limited to two years’ validity, with applications for permanent residence permits possible after the holder has had a temporary residence permit for at least three years.

The new law also means that permanent residence permits can no longer be granted on the basis of a family member holding permanent residency, so children can only get permanent residency after three years of holding a temporary residence permit.

However, the main change which affects parents and parents-to-be with children born in Sweden is that all applicants for residence permits must now have valid photo ID, regardless of age. Previously, children without a passport could still apply.

Unlike some other countries, children born in Sweden are not automatically Swedish citizens – citizenship is based on their parents’ country of origin. Therefore, international parents of newborns born in Sweden must apply for a child passport or national ID card from their native country in order for their child to get a Swedish residence permit, if neither parent has EU or Swedish citizenship.

Depending on how long it takes for the child’s country of citizenship to process passport applications, this can add months to the already long waiting times for residence permit applications.

How does this affect international families?

If the mother has a personal number, or if the father is the child’s legal guardian and has a personal number – the 10 or 12 digit code to unlocking a lot of Swedish services – it should amount to nothing more than a longer wait for a permit.

This is due to the fact that children born in Sweden to parents who have personal numbers are automatically assigned a personal number at birth – they do not need a residency permit first. This means that you will still be able to easily access healthcare and childcare for your child while you wait for their residence permit to be approved. Even if you or your child don’t have a personal number, everyone under the age of 18 still has the right to healthcare.

Just be prepared that you will need to apply for a passport or ID card for your child as soon as you can after their birth so they can be granted a residence permit – depending on your country of origin you may need to send your own passport away for up to a few months or travel to your country’s embassy, so ensure that you don’t have any international travel planned and that you have another form of valid ID in the meantime, if possible.

Have you been affected by this law change? Get in touch with The Local’s editorial team at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. When in 2021 did this change? I got a (temporary) residence permit for 2.5 years (because my passport expires then). Also, I didn’t need to submit a photograph when I applied for my residence permit.

    I think I applied for my permit around May/June.

    1. Hi,

      The rules changed on the 20th July 2021.

      You don’t usually have to submit a photograph in your application – when you go to Migrationsverket to get your card made they will take a photo and take your fingerprints which will then be stored digitally on the card.

      The photo ID requirement just means that the ID you use in your application has to include a photo of you (e.g. passport).

      Hope that clears things up, let me know if you have any more questions,

      Becky

      1. Hi,

        I recently applied for residence permit for my new born daughter and I realized that migration has updated the system but still you are able to apply for residence permit without any valid photo id. You will get the control number but you have to supply with valid photo id as soon as it is ready. So I think practically it doesn’t effect any much.
        Thanks

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

In Sweden, a sambo is domestic partner – someone you’re in a relationship with and live with, but to whom you aren’t married. If you, as a non-EU citizen, are in a sambo relationship with a Swedish citizen, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of that relationship. But meeting the requirements of that permit is not always straightforward.

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

An American reader, whose son lives with his Swedish partner, wrote to The Local with questions about the maintenance requirement her son and his partner must meet in order to qualify for a sambo resident permit.

“Their specific issue is that they meet the requirements for a stable relationship and stable housing, but have been told that qualifying for a sambo visa based on savings is unlikely,” she wrote, asking for suggestions on how to approach this issue. Her son’s partner is a student with no income, but whose savings meet maintenance requirements. But, they have been told by lawyers that Migrationsverket will likely deny the application based on the absence of the Swedish partner’s income.

How do relationships qualify for sambo status?

In order to apply for a residence permit on the basis of a sambo relationship, you and your partner must either be living together, or plan to live together as soon as the non-Swedish partner can come to Sweden. Because this reader’s son is already in Sweden as a graduate student, he can apply for a sambo permit without having to leave the country, provided that his student permit is still valid at the time the new application is submitted.

The Migration Agency notes that “you can not receive a residence permit for the reason that you want to live with a family member in Sweden before your current permit expires”. So once your valid permit is close to expiration, you can apply for a new sambo permit.

What are the maintenance requirements for a sambo permit?

The maintenance requirements for someone applying for a sambo permit fall on the Swedish partner, who must prove that they are able to support both themselves and their partner for the duration of the permit. This includes both housing and financial requirements.

In terms of residential standards that applicants must meet, they must show that they live in a home of adequate size – for two adult applicants without children, that means at least one room with a kitchen. If rented, the lease must be for at least one year.

The financial requirements are more complicated. The Swedish partner must be able to document a stable income that can support the applicant and themselves – for a sambo couple, the 2022 standard is an income of 8,520 kronor per month. This burden falls on the Swedish partner.

While the Migration Agency’s website does say that you may “fulfil the maintenance requirement (be considered able to support yourself) if you have enough money/taxable assets to support yourself, other persons in your household and the family members who are applying for a residence permit for at least two years”, it is unclear how proof of this would be documented. On a separate page detailing the various documents that can be used to prove that maintenance requirements are met, there is nothing about how to document savings that will be used to support the couple.

Can you apply on the basis of savings instead of income?

Well, this is unclear. The Migration Agency’s website does suggest that having enough money saved up to support both members of the sambo relationship is an option, but it gives no details on how to document this. It is also unclear whether applying on the basis of savings will disadvantage applicants, with preference given to applicants who can show proof of income from work.

The Local has reached out to an immigration lawyer to answer this question. 

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