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EXPLAINED: How to apply for an after studies residence permit in Sweden

Ankita Sharma, a recent graduate with a Masters in Visual Culture from Lund University, explains how to get a permit to stay in Sweden and look for a job after graduation.

EXPLAINED: How to apply for an after studies residence permit in Sweden
Students at Umeå School of Architecture. It's important to apply for an After Studies visa before your course is finished. Photo: Jonatan Stålhös/

If you, like me, came to Sweden for higher studies and are planning to stay for work, the chances are you have heard of the job-seeking permit, which is formerly known as the Swedish After Studies permit. 

The permit is meant to be the next step after a residence permit for students, and acts as a raft for those seeking employment after graduating. Here’s a look into the process of getting it, and what happens next.

Are you eligible for an After Studies permit?

The After Studies residence permit is granted by the Migrations Agency for up to a year from the point a student finishes their degree if they plan to stay in Sweden to find a job or start their own business.

There is a list of specific criteria that must be met by the applicant to be eligible: 

General requirements

According to the Migrations Agency’s website, only a person who has previously held a residence permit for higher studies in Sweden, or a residence permit for ‘mobility studies’ issued in another EU country is eligible to apply for the After Studies permit.

You must hold a passport that is valid throughout the period that you are applying for and apply before the expiration date of
your current permit.

The copies of your passport must clearly show your personal information, photograph, signature, passport number, issuing country, period of validity, entry/exit stamp, and the permission you have live outside your home country.

You must also state clearly in the application form whether you intend to look for a job or start your own business.

Study credits needed

In order to secure this particular permit, you must apply before the expiry of your current permit and after you have completed a higher education program that was at least two semesters long and based in Sweden. You must have completed and passed sufficient courses to gain at least 30 credits, which is equivalent to about two semesters. 

You must prove this by sending a copy of your diploma, excerpts from the Ladok register, or certificates from authorised staff at your university, stating that you have completed all the courses in your program successfully.

This means applicants have a very short window of time between being awarded their credits or diploma and making their application, something which is crucial to be aware of and a source of a lot of confusion for applicants.

Funds and Health Insurance

As with a normal residence permit, you as an applicant need to prove that you can support yourself through the entire duration of the permit, so proof of funds (such as bank statements and other documents) is mandatory.

The sum required for applications in 2022 is 8,694 kronor per month, and the documents provided must show the bank account holder’s name, and the current account balance. 

If you have continuous income from work, you must supply a copy of your employment contract and specifics of your salary. 

Comprehensive healthcare insurance is also a compulsory criterion for eligibility for this permit.

If you are registered as a citizen at Skatteverkat, the Swedish Tax Agency, and have a personal number, you only need to enclose a copy of your Swedish ID card, otherwise you need to include details of your insurance provider in the application form.

Extra criteria for those with spouses or dependents 

Candidates who are in Sweden with their spouse or families have extra criteria to fulfill

You must ensure that all the members of your family have valid passports, and documents verifying your relationship.

You must also show you are able to financially support them, by proving that, on top of the basic sum mentioned above that you have an additional 3622.5 kronor for your spouse and  2173.50 kronor for each child.

Here’s where it gets tricky

One of the most common mistakes made by applicants is not getting the calculation of funds right. Currency conversion rates are constantly changing; so for those of us using account statements from banks in our home countries, it is imperative to have a little more than the required amount stated by the Migration Agency.

My advisor at Lund University recommended having an extra month’s worth of funds in the account to ensure it holds up in the eyes of the Agency.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the balance amount is calculated from the date mentioned in your statement, so it is a good idea to attach a statement dated as near to the date of application as possible.

It is also acceptable to produce a combination of balance statements from your home country bank and your Swedish bank as long as they add up to more than the required amount.

The other tricky aspect of this application is the timing. The Agency specifically asks that we apply before the expiry date of the current permit, and after we have completed all our courses.

The catch of this situation is that a standard higher studies residence permit expires two weeks after university courses normally end, but results are only published 4-6 weeks after, and diplomas are issued only after a month.

The two criteria cannot simultaneously be fulfilled, so it is recommended that you submit the application before your previous permit expires, with a letter from your university Programme Coordinator stating that you have completed all your courses.

Then the Agency allows you four weeks to submit your diploma in addition to your application.

What happens after I’ve applied? 

Once the application is submitted, you are allowed to remain in Sweden until you receive a decision, but should you choose to leave the country, you may not be allowed to enter again.

This rule, along with the long queue times at the Migration Agency and no fixed time frame for a decision, means that applicants like me get stuck in Sweden with no permission to travel anywhere (within or outside the EU), and with no foreseeable hope of being able to travel to our home countries.

Waiting periods are close to six months as advertised on the website, and there is no clear way to get more information unless a case officer is assigned to you.

If you land a job while waiting for the decision on this permit, you can request to end your application and apply for a work permit, but that, as readers of The Local will know, comes with its own set of hurdles.

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Swedish parliament votes through work permit and ID-number laws

Sweden's parliament on Wednesday voted through two bills, one which will allow the government to hike the minimum salary for a work permit, and another which may lead to people with coordination numbers being able to get BankID.

Swedish parliament votes through work permit and ID-number laws

The first bill, “A higher subsistence requirement for labour migrants” (Ett höjt försörjningskrav för arbetskraftsinvandrare), was passed with a majority of 244 in favour and 54 against, with only the Centre, Green and Left parties voting against the move to tighten labour migration. 

In the debate over the bill, Jonny Cato, from the Centre Party dismissed the government’s claim that the bill would be “a big win for Swedish businesses”, saying that businesses were in fact “extremely worried about where they are going to get their competence.”

“If we look at who these labour migrants with a salary under 33,200 are, who will no longer have permission to stay but will be deported – it is one out of seven systems developers, one of out seven engineers, and one out of seven IT architects. This is highly skilled labour,” he said. 

“How will companies be able to get the expertise they need now and not in five years time?”

The bill empowers the government to raise the maintenance requirement for work permit applicants from outside the EU, the Nordic countries and Switzerland above the current 13,000 kronor a month. 

It does not propose how much higher the maintenance requirement should be, or propose a date for when the changes should come into force, stating instead that it can be implemented on “the day the government decides”.

Sweden’s Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard has said she intends to do this as soon as possible. 

READ ALSO: What do we know about Sweden’s new work permit bill?

A second bill, on “a strengthened system for coordination numbers”, also passed with 261 votes in favour and only 31 against. Only the Left Party and the Green Party opposed the change. 

This bill will make the Swedish Tax Agency wholly responsible for awarding coordination numbers, the numbers given to people living in Sweden who are not yet eligible for a personal number or personnummer

READ ALSO: How a new Swedish law could give more foreigners BankID

This should make it easier to keep track of which numbers are held by real people and which are dormant. The bill will also create a new category of “supported identity” coordination numbers, where the holder goes to a Tax Agency office in person with a passport or other identity document and has their identity confirmed.

These should meet a sufficiently high security threshold to allow holders to access BankID, opening the way for them to access a host of services in Sweden.