Visas and Work Permits 16 min

Work permits and visas in Sweden: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman


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If an employee wants to move to a different country, such as Sweden, while working for you, you might decide to support them through the relocation process.

However, there are various kinds of local documentation and processes you’ll have to sort out, particularly if:

  • The relocating employee is a non-citizen of Sweden

  • Your company doesn’t have its own legal entity in the country

  • The relocating employee is a digital nomad.

No matter what your situation is, you’ll have to ensure you stay compliant with relevant labor and taxation laws. If not, your company can get into legal problems and need to pay hefty fines for non-compliance. 

Managing work authorization checks, work permits or visas, and paperwork involved with employee relocation can seem intimidating. But, if you find the right partner organization, you can handle these tasks efficiently and ensure compliance while managing remote employees.

An employer of record like Remote can support your growing business in Sweden and beyond. Our comprehensive guide to Sweden's work visa requirements and work permits will relieve the burden of manual work from your hands. 

Why is immigration compliance important in Sweden?

Sweden has recently introduced strict legislation to combat illegal work performed by foreign individuals in the country. 

Failure to adhere to these rules means that the relevant Swedish agencies are entitled to take legal action against employers — from issuing fines and penalties to shutting down their operations in the country. This makes it even more pressing to ensure that you’re fully compliant with Swedish immigration laws.

Who needs a work authorization check in Sweden?

In general, if a person is not a citizen of Sweden, they must hold a valid and in-date work permit or visa if they intend to relocate to the country for work-related purposes

Considering Sweden offers various work permits, it might not be easy to perform accurate and rigorous right-to-work checks. Without the right resources and enough time for research, you may fail to do so correctly.

Simplify and accelerate the demanding process of right-to-work checks by working with an employer of record like Remote. All the employee needs to do is pass over their personal information to our Mobility team, who will conduct a work check and ensure the provided work permit is valid. In the case of an invalid work permit, we can also set up a valid one as soon as possible.

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Sweden?

Yes, individuals who are non-citizens of Sweden or EU, do need a special work permit if they want to reside and work in the country. Permanent residents of Sweden do not need a work permit to work in the country. 

How is the Schengen Visa applicable? 

The Schengen visa, a travel permit for citizens within the Schengen area to move freely for leisure or travel purposes, does not apply to work-related matters. If the government finds employees in Sweden working while using a Schengen visa, they (and you) will face legal action. 

How is the European Union Blue Card applicable? 

Highly skilled and qualified non-EU citizens can apply for a European Union Blue Card, a special visa allowing them to live and work legally in an EU country such as Sweden. 

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Sweden?

Recently, the Swedish Migration Agency has implemented stricter rules around labor immigration to attract top foreign talent while also combating illegal work. Similarly, this new legal framework also puts the employer at the center of the visa application process, meaning that companies are responsible for sourcing their employees’ work permits.

Employment contract

Under these new rules, the Agency stated that, for a non-Swedish citizen to apply for a work permit, they need to attach a valid employment contract to the standard visa application form. Additionally, the Agency has the right to require the company to provide information on the working conditions of its foreign employees living and working in Sweden.

Failure to do so may cause an employer to incur a fine or another type of penalty.

Residence permit

Another crucial requirement for people seeking to run their own business or open a business in Sweden and live in the country is a residence permit. Individuals need to obtain this permit before they physically relocate to the country. Thankfully, applying for residence is not complicated and can be done online from the individual’s home country.

Once the relevant documents have been submitted to the Swedish Migration Agency, the Agency will review and assess the individual’s business plan and formulate a final decision on the residence permit request.

Get your Remote Relocation Guide

Learn how to simplify your planned relocation with this walkthrough guide. We outline the key steps for you and your employer to enable a compliant, efficient, and hassle-free move.

Relocation Guide download

What are the long-stay visa types in Sweden?

Like most other countries, Sweden offers several types of long-stay visas. Below are the most common:

Sweden work permit (employer-sponsored)‍

With a work permit in Sweden, a non-Swedish employee who has received a job offer from a Swedish employer can live and work legally in the country for more than three months.

Intra-company transfer (ICT)

If your company is based in the US but has branches in other countries, such as Sweden, the relocating employee may be able to apply for an ICT permit. In this case, it’s up to you as an employer to initiate the application process with the Swedish Migration Board or through the local embassy or consulate.

Self-employment visa

Freelancers, self-employed workers, and entrepreneurs who plan to live and work in Sweden for more than three months can submit an application request for a self-employment visa. This visa also acts as a residence permit, but has to be allocated before the individual physically relocates to Sweden.

Working holiday visa

Working holiday visas are a good option for non-EU citizens who wish to live and work in Sweden for up to a year and are between 18 and 30 years old. 

EU Blue Card

With an EU Blue Card, highly skilled and qualified workers who are non-EU citizens can move to work in Sweden for at least 24 months.

How do you apply for a work visa for Sweden?

Most people who want to apply for a work visa in Sweden do so online. Those unable to apply online can fill out an application for a Swedish work permit, number 149011, and submit it to their nearest Swedish Embassy or Consulate.

Applicants who apply online will need to wait for an email from the Swedish government with more instructions on how to apply for a Sweden work permit. The government sends this email only after the employer provides all the relevant documentation. Candidates must review and confirm all details in the online application form and confirm that the documents provided by their employer are accurate and up-to-date. They also need to pay a specific fee and receive a confirmation email for the application to go to the Swedish Migration Agency for review and approval. 

What is the average processing time for a Sweden work visa?

The average processing time will depend on whether the employee applied online or in person. If some documentation is missing, the Swedish Migration Agency will halt the process until it receives the required documents. 

Sweden's work visa processing time can also vary depending on the sector where the relocating employee works. If an employee works in the Service industry and has provided all the relevant documentation, they can expect to get the work visa processed within 13 months. 

How Remote manages compliant relocation on your behalf

At Remote, we know how complicated, stressful, and time-consuming work visa applications can be, from filling out and gathering documentation to waiting for the government's answer. But things don't need to be so challenging as long as you have the right partner on board.

Remote's employee relocation service can help you relocate employees to Sweden (or any other country) swiftly and without much effort. We provide expert guidance on work visa applications, immigration, and compliance while helping you handle payroll, taxes, and much more. With our relocation services, you can easily hire international employees and ensure compliance without wasting precious business time and resources. 

What is the process for sponsoring employee work visas in Sweden?

Employers can also choose to sponsor the employees' Swedish visas, in which case they must do the following:

  • Advertise the job vacancy (if the employer is based in Sweden)

  • Prepare an employment offer

  • Request the go-ahead from the relevant trade union

  • Liaise with the Swedish Tax Agency by providing details of their employees.

As soon as employees receive a notification email from the Swedish Migration Agency, they can move ahead with their part of the process, which involves:

  • Filling in the relevant application form

  • Ensuring that all the necessary documentation is attached

  • Paying the work visa fees

  • Waiting for the application to be processed

The Agency generally processes the Swedish work visa between one and three months. Nonetheless, the waiting time varies, depending on the type of work visa and whether an individual requested it in person or online.

Digital nomad visas in Sweden

Sweden currently does not have any specific visa provisions for digital nomads. 

Many people, nonetheless, still choose to relocate to Sweden and work there either on a Swedish tourist visa or during a shorter stay for which they do not require a work permit. However, doing so is illegal, and people found running any business in Sweden without the right work permit are subject to legal risks.

The above does not apply to individuals who are citizens of the EU or a country within the Schengen area. These individuals can work freely in Sweden after arriving in the country. If they are going to live in Sweden for over three months, they need to make sure they are registered with the authorities.

How can digital nomads relocate and work in Sweden legally?

In the absence of a Swedish digital nomad visa, non-EU digital nomads who plan to move to Sweden for a specific period might want to consider a self-employment visa. 

If your organization wants to help digital nomad employees move and work in Sweden, consider partnering with Remote to handle the complexities of Swedish work visas quickly and in full compliance. 

At Remote, we simplify the process associated with securing the right visa type for the right employee. Whether you have a digital nomad, a self-employed worker, or a remote employee relocating to Sweden, our expert team will perform a work check and determine the best way to approach the situation in compliance with local laws. 

Why use an employer of record to hire in Sweden?

Even if the employee is eligible to work in Sweden, remember that you must also be able to employ them in the country. This means you have to establish a local entity in Sweden or use an employer of record to legally hire employees in Sweden on your behalf. 

If you have plans to expand your business in Sweden or hire from the country exclusively, it might make sense to set up your own entity. However, it’s usually a costly and time-consuming process that can take weeks or even months, especially if you plan to expand to other countries as well. 

That’s why we recommend saving yourself the hassle and relying on a trusted EOR instead. To learn more about what EORs are and when to use one, check out our in-depth guide below.

12 min

How to use an Employer of Record in Sweden

Learn how to use an EOR in Sweden and find out how an employer of record platform like Remote can make it easy to hire globally with full compliance.

Whether you’re hiring an employee in Sweden or relocating a team member, you need to make sure they are eligible to work in Sweden and have the correct work permit. You can support the relocating employee by sourcing specific documents, paying the required fees, and verifying that all the information provided is accurate.

However, there are complexities surrounding different visa types, employment laws, and tax requirements for people relocating to Sweden. Securing the incorrect work visa, failing to secure one altogether, or making any other missteps can lead to significant problems, including fines, penalties, and even legal action.

The good news is that you don't need to do everything alone. Remote relocation services can make the whole process simple and convenient for you. Our Mobility team can support by:

  • Offering expert advice tailored to the employee’s specific needs from specialists who are knowledgeable in immigration laws and regulations.

  • Managing compliance and reducing legal risks by ensuring ongoing compliance with the latest laws and up-to-date regulations.

  • Navigating paperwork and assisting the team with preparing and filing required documentation.

  • Renewing and extending visas and work permits on time and conducting regular audits to verify that documentation is in order.

Take a look at our comprehensive Relocation Guide for more information about the critical steps involved in employee relocation. Get in touch for more information about how Remote can help you secure Sweden work visas for employees. 

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