Long-term transfers

Categories

What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?

The two main categories are international transfer and local hire. In both cases, a work permit is normally required from the first day of work. If the length of the assignment is more than three months, a residence permit is also required. The work and residence permit is applied for at the same time.

Procedures

What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?

The employer will start the process by completing an offer of employment that can be made online. If it is a local hire, the position must have been advertised within the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland for at least 10 days before the application for a work permit can be submitted.

When the offer of employment has been completed an opinion from the relevant union should be arranged for. The union must, in each application for a work permit, be given the opportunity to confirm that employment conditions (such as salary, insurances and working time) are in line with Swedish collective agreements. When all the required documents are complete, the application can be submitted online with relevant documents attached. An application fee to the Migration Agency needs to be paid when submitting the application.

After the Migration Agency has granted a permit, the individual must provide his or her biometrics (fingerprints and photo). For nationals requiring a visa to enter Sweden, this needs to be done at the Swedish embassy in the country where the applicant resides. After three to four weeks, the applicant will receive a residence permit card and it is not until then that the applicant can travel to Sweden and start work as from the first validity date of the permit. The applicant does not need to hand the passport in to the embassy, as it is sufficient to show the passport.

Nationals not needing a visa to enter Sweden can travel to Sweden and start work as from the first validity date of the official decision from the Migration Agency. The applicant must then visit the Migration Agency permit unit to fulfil the biometric requirements to receive the residence permit card. The card will be sent to a Swedish address within one to two weeks.

Period of stay

What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?

A work permit can normally be granted for as long as the work continues, or for two years at a maximum. It can be extended for another two years thereafter. Employees who are to work for a shorter period than three months in Sweden must apply for a work permit at the Swedish embassy in the country of residence. This application cannot be submitted online. After four years with a work permit (without interruption), a permanent residence permit can be applied for, provided that the intention is to settle permanently in Sweden.

During the first 24 months, the work permit is linked to the specific employer and occupation indicated in the decision. A new permit must be applied for if the employee is offered a new job during this period. Once the application has been submitted to the Migration Agency, the employee is permitted to begin working for the new employer before receiving a decision, provided that the application was submitted before the previous permit expired.

If an employee has had a work permit for 24 months and is granted an extension, he or she is permitted to change employer without applying for a new work permit, provided the employee is in the same occupation. If the new job is in a different occupation, the employee must apply for a new work permit.

Processing time

How long does it typically take to process the main categories?

Normally, the processing time at the Migration Agency is between 10 and 20 working days if a company certified by the Migration Agency submits the application. During the refugee crisis in 2015, the processing time was heavily delayed (especially for extensions of permits). Firms certified by the Migration Agency have a fast-track procedure, which is quicker than normal processing time. If an application is incomplete and the Migration Agency needs to request additional information, the processing time can be up to four months or longer.

Staff benefits

Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?

The applicant needs to have been offered terms of employment that are on par with those set by Swedish collective agreements, or that are customary within the occupation or industry. The salary needs to be equivalent to that set by Swedish collective agreements or what is customary within the occupation or industry. The applicant also needs complete insurance coverage (health insurance, life insurance, insurance for occupational injury at work and pension insurance). The employer also needs to be able to show proof of insurance if the Migration Agency requests it.

Assessment criteria

Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?

The Migration Agency follows the requirements stipulated in the immigration law. A work permit will only be granted if the applicant and the Swedish employer meet all criteria for obtaining a work permit. Some terms in the immigration law have not been defined very precisely, which gives some room for discretionary interpretations of the law.

High net worth individuals and investors

Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?

There are no specific special routes for high net worth individuals or investors. They can apply for a residence permit for self-employed persons if they intend to stay in Sweden for longer than three months. There are special rules for individuals performing self-employed activities. Extensive information and documentation need to be submitted proving significant experience, possession of sufficient funds and a business plan showing that the business can support the applicant. The Migration Agency will assess the business plan from a financial perspective. The processing time to obtain a residence permit for the self-employed is unfortunately very long; it is currently approximately two years.

For stays shorter than three months, the individual should apply for an ordinary business visa if this is required, depending on nationality.

Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?

No.

Highly skilled individuals

Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?

There are some exemptions from the requirement of a work permit in Sweden; for example, specialists who work in Sweden for an international group for less than one year in total. A residence permit must be applied for if the stay in Sweden will be longer than three months. There are no clear definitions of a specialist, but the skills should be hard to find in Sweden. It is up to the employer and the employee to decide if the individual should be regarded as a specialist or not. If the individual does not work in an international group, there is no special route for highly skilled individuals and he or she must apply for an ordinary work permit.

A visiting researcher who is qualified to pursue postgraduate studies based on studies at a higher education institution and who has been chosen to conduct research in Sweden does not require a work permit. A residence permit is required for stays of longer than three months.

Some nationalities need a visa, however, and if the stay is longer than three months, a residence permit needs to be applied for.

A non-EU national with a university degree or five years’ professional experience and a salary equivalent to one and a half times the average gross salary in Sweden may apply for an EU Blue Card. The advantages of holding an EU Blue Card compared with an ordinary Swedish work and residence permit are, however, not major.

Ancestry and descent

Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

No. Unless the person is born to a Swedish parent, there are no special routes for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent.

Minimum salary

Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?

Minimum salary levels are not stipulated in Swedish law. The different unions recommend minimum salary levels, based on yearly salary statistics. The minimum salary set by the Migration Agency is currently 13,000 kronor per month before taxes, but the salary needs to be equivalent to that set by Swedish collective agreements or what is customary within the occupation or industry.

There are no clear guidelines because there are too many different professions, collective agreements and other variables to consider and it is difficult to keep up-to-date information on actual salary and employment conditions for all different professions. However, the Migration Agency considers the minimum salary would generally be 29,000 kronor per month for engineers with a bachelor’s degree and 31,000 kronor for engineers with a master’s degree and some years of experience, including salary and other allowances paid out to the employee (May 2015).

The union for engineers in Sweden considers that the minimum salary for a highly educated engineer should be 30,000 kronor per month, according to statistics.

The salary levels mentioned above are for employees assigned to Sweden for a limited period and who receive salary and allowances from their employer abroad. If the employment is in Sweden, for a certain time or ongoing, the salary should be adjusted to conditions on the market. This salary is between 30,500 and 43,000 kronor for an IT specialist with an engineering degree and a few years of experience.

The Migration Agency makes its own judgement in each case and may grant a permit even if the union considers the salary to be too low.

Resident labour market test

Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?

A quota system does not exist in Sweden. When hiring somebody locally, the position must first be advertised for at least 10 days in Sweden, the EU and EEA before submitting an application for a work permit.

Advertising is not required if a person with an overseas employer is assigned to perform work in Sweden. Nor is it required if an employee is transferred within a company group as long as the position remains abroad. However, if the position is moved to Sweden (local hire), this counts as a new recruitment and means that the position must be advertised and the person the company intends to employ must apply for a new work permit. Advertising is not required when a company employs a person for a leading position (eg, a managing director).

If the employee changes his or her profession or is promoted and will be performing different tasks, he or she must apply for a new permit and the new position must be advertised, even though the employer is the same. The position does not need to be advertised when the employee applies for an extension of the permit, provided the employment is the same as previously.

Shortage occupations

Is there a special route for shortage occupations?

In certain circumstances where an individual has already travelled to Sweden to visit an employer and been offered a job by the employer, the individual can apply for a work permit within Sweden if there is a shortage of labour within the profession and if his or her leaving the country to apply for a permit would make it difficult for the employer to run their business. These applications are not handled under the certification process and the processing time can be extensive.

Other eligibility requirements

Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?

The terms of the employment need to be equivalent to those set by the Swedish collective agreements or what is customary within the occupation or industry. An opinion from the relevant Swedish union must be obtained. The employer also needs to provide insurance coverage for health insurance, life insurance, insurance for occupational injury at work and pension insurance. There is no minimum amount of time that the applicant must have been employed by the employer.

Third-party contractors

What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?

A contractor can obtain a work permit for Sweden. The Swedish customer or the actual employer in the home country needs to verify that the working conditions are equivalent to what is standard on the Swedish market and according to collective agreements and the contractor needs to have insurance coverage for health, life, injury at work and pension.

If the applicant is employed by a Swedish contractor, the work permit should be valid for work for this company and not with the company that buys the services from the Swedish contractor and for which the applicant will perform services.

If the applicant is employed by a foreign contractor, it may be necessary to verify the employment conditions given by the Swedish hirer (ie, the company that buys the services) and the work permit will be valid for work for the Swedish hirer.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?

There is no formal skill assessment required by the Migration Agency in order to obtain a work permit. It is, however, required to state the level of education and previous work experience in the application in order for the Migration Agency to judge if the salary offered is in line with the education and experience.