Work permits and work/business visas
When coming to Sweden for work, people are often confused as to whether they need to apply for a work permit or if they can simply apply for a work visa instead. The general rule is that if a person if coming to Sweden to perform work, a work permit should be applied for. This is regardless of how long time the person will be working in Sweden for; it could be a week, a month, a year, or longer. There are however some exceptions to this general rule, see below.
If you will be coming to Sweden for meetings and conferences, and if you are a non-visa free, then you need a business visa. If you are a visa-free person, then you can just come without having to apply for a visa. Below are the steps on how to get a work visa for Sweden:
Applying for a work visa for Sweden
Basic requirements are that you must have:
- a passport that is valid for a minimum of 3 months after your visa has expired and which has been issued in the last 10 years
- an invitation letter from the organizers of the conference
- a description of the purpose of the visit. Which includes: Why you are visiting Sweden, Where will you be visiting (Name of the city etc.), How long you is your stay, How you will support yourself during your stay. As well as, what are your travel plans after Sweden?
- enough money for your stay and for the trip back. You need to have at least 450 kr for each day spent in Sweden. You need bank statements and such to prove it. In certain cases this amount may be lower, for example children, if the cost of food and accommodation is paid in advance, or if you are going to stay with relatives or friends who can support your stay. Still, you need to have documents to prove the case.
- individual medical travel insurance, which covers the costs of emergency medical assistance. The insurance should cover costs of at least 30,000 Euros and be valid in all the Schengen countries.
- two passport photographs which are not more than 6 months old
- other documents which the embassy may require.
You should hand in your work visa application to a Swedish embassy or consulate. In some countries, Sweden is represented by another Schengen country. If Sweden isn’t represented in any way, then you must go to the nearest country that has Sweden representation.
Work permit exemptions
You can find a list of all work permit exceptions on the Migration Agency’s website. Otherwise, you can just apply for a work permit. But we will be going through some of them of the most common ones below. If the activities that will be performed fall under one of the below exceptions, a work permit is not required and a visa can be applied for instead (here is a list of all nationals that require work visa/other visa to enter Sweden and perform the below activities). As each embassy operates differently and has different requirements it would be better to contact the nearest embassy directly to find out more about this application process.
- Specialists in an international corporation who work temporarily in Sweden for the corporation for a total of less than one year. The exception does not apply to specialists who are subject to the ICT regulations. This means that specialists residing outside the EU are exempted from the work permit requirement if they work in Sweden for less than 90 days.
The ICT regulations apply to any person who will be travelling to Sweden to work for the same company (or a company that is in the same company group). The ICT regulations also only apply to people living outside of the EU. That means that if your company regards you as a specialist and you are coming to Sweden to work for a company outside your company group, you can perform work in Sweden for up to 3 months without requiring a work permit.
It is important to note that the Migration Agency does not have any clear definition of what a specialist can be so the company is usually the one deciding this (for example by stating specialist in their title or job description).
- Employees who participate in practical experience, internal training or other skills development at a company in an international group for up to three months altogether over the period of 12 months.
This exemption is quite self-explanatory. It mainly applies to people who are coming to Sweden for a short-term training (for a maximum of 3 months during a 12 month period). It is however important that the person coming to Sweden is here for training. It is important to make a distinction between “practical experience” and regular work. If the person is coming to perform tasks that they already do in their regular work (meaning that nothing new is being learned) this exception would not apply.
- People who participate in training, testing, preparation or completion of deliveries, or similar activities within the framework of a business transaction for up to three months altogether over the period of 12 months.
This is similar to the previous exemption but differs in the way that the main purpose is a business transaction. The purpose of this exemption is not for anyone to perform hands-on work, but rather to allow people to come to Sweden to control the product before a sale or to help deliver it. Once again, this exemption can only be used for up to 3 months during a 12 month period for each person coming.
Non-EU/EEA citizens who the right to live and work in other EU/EEA countries
- People who live and work in, but are not citizens of, an EU/EEA country or Switzerland and who want to work in Sweden temporarily as a contractor or the equivalent, if they have a permit that gives them the right to work and live in that country.
There is an exemption allowing people who have the right to live and work in other EU/EEA countries to work in Sweden during a temporary period. This has been implemented in accordance to a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 1994 giving EU companies the right to provide services within the EU. This ruling means that it is generally allowed for non-EU/EEA citizens who are legally employed in an EU country to provide services in other EU countries on a temporary basis.
This has been implemented in different ways depending on the EU country, but Sweden has implemented it as an exemption to the requirement to have a work visa. The ruling was in regards to a contractor sending people within the EU to perform demolition work. Due to the Migration Agency’s vague stance on this ruling, it can be assumed that this exception only applies to contractors such as road workers, builders, carpenters, etc. as this is mainly what the court ruling is referring to.