Sweden Visa // Sweden Sambo Visa // Sweden Working Holiday Visa // Applying for a Visa to Sweden
When I was researching about moving to Sweden, I had a really hard time finding the information I was looking for online. For that reason, I’ve had so many people reach out to me over the past couple months about the process of moving to Sweden. Mainly, about how to get a Swedish visa.
The more time I spend here, and the more I talk to fellow expats, I have realized that the Swedish Migration Agency isn’t very clear in their rules and regulations. So – I wanted to put together a post highlighting what I’ve learned so far, in hopes that it may help someone in the same situation as me.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a migration expert, and I am not claiming to be. Additionally, the migration agency in Sweden has been known to have some [err, a lot of] grey area in their rules, so my experience may not be the same as other migration cases. If you have any questions, email me and I’ll try to help [or I may know another expat in your situation that you can reach out to].
The Swedish Visa Process
As a Canadian under 30 years old, I was able to apply for a Swedish Working Holiday Visa [WHV]. However, I realize that places me amongst a small minority. So here, I’ll highlight my experience with the Swedish WHV, as well as some other visa alternatives.
Swedish Working Holiday Visa [WHV]
The Swedish WHV is available for young people between 18 and 30 years old, from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea or Uruguay. To apply, you just need to provide a copy of your passport, a bank account statement showing 15,000 SEK in available funds, and a valid health insurance policy [I purchased mine from an insurance broker in Canada here]. Additionally, they want to see proof of a return plane ticket, or enough funds to purchase one.
Once you submit the application, you’ll expected to receive your response within 3 months. It took me about 8 weeks to get a response. The whole process was very quick and easy.
Now, here is what they don’t tell you about the Swedish WHV [and what I wish I would have known].
You aren’t given a Swedish personal number on this visa, which means you can’t do very basic things like get a gym membership or open a bank account. This makes it particularly difficult to find a job, because you can’t get paid if you don’t have a bank account. In order to open one, you need to obtain a letter of employment, and then apply for a coordination number with the tax agency. From there, you’ll get a very basic bank account.
Additionally, I’ve heard from fellow expats that their places of employment weren’t particularly helpful in getting them the materials they needed to open the bank account. Based on this, you need to find specific employers who are experienced with WHVs. They exist, and I’ve had a very pleasant personal experience, but it is just something to be wary of.
This is in no way meant to deter anyone from getting a WHV, it is the perfect quick and easy way to just get here. However, just be wary that some serious limitations exist.
Swedish Sambo Visa
The ‘Sambo Visa,’ or cohabitation visa, and is granted to expats who are looking to move to Sweden to be with a Swedish citizen. The reason we didn’t choose this visa is because it often takes 12-18 months to process. Additionally, they prefer that you have lived with your partner for at least six months prior to applying, and at the time Sebastian and I were in a long distance relationship, so taking this route was risky. However, if you meet the basic requirements and have flexibility to wait, this is the best visa to have, as it is the most secure.
I’ve talked to many expats like myself who came here on a WHV and applied to – and transitioned to – a Sambo visa while within Sweden; however, the Swedish Migration Agency is making it much more difficult to do this.
I am part of a couple ‘support groups’ on Facebook for people applying for a Swedish Sambo Visa [I’ll link them below], and the general consensus is that other expats are being required to leave Sweden to apply for their Sambo Visa. As a result, after spending time here, often on a WHV or student visa, they are being mandated to leave the country for extended periods of time. Many of these people have resorted to applying for temporary WHVs in other countries, like Denmark or Germany, because they don’t have to be in their home country, they just need to be out of the county.
As a result, just be cautious if you’re planning to come here on a WHV and transition to a Sambo Visa. This may not be as easy as you hoped.
- If you are waiting for a Sambo Visa within Sweden, I would recommending joining this Facebook group: click here
- If you are in Sweden on a WHV and applying for a Sambo Visa, this Facebook group is very helpful: click here
Swedish Work Visa
Now, a Swedish Work Visa is a great way to get to Sweden. However, this will require getting a job offer before you move, which isn’t always easy.
I’m super happy to share that I received an exciting job offer from a large international company within three weeks of arriving to Sweden. This company has employees from all over the world, and has the resources to help me with everything visa-related, which has been such a relief.
There are a few things I wish I would have known before moving here that helped me land my dream job.
Here’s a few tips for you:
- Know your skills, and be ready to convince an employer why you would be a better fit for the job than a Swedish employee. If they are going to invest the time, and money, to sponsor you, they need to be convinced that you can possess a unique skill set that makes you best suited for the job.
- Focus your search on large, international companies [specifically ones with English as corporate language]. There are many companies in Sweden that operate primarily in English, and they are more likely to have the resources necessary to facilitate a visa sponsorship. Additionally, if you get a job from a Migration Agency ‘certified’ company, you can get a work visa in as little as two weeks. If you’re looking to work in Malmö/Lund, message me for details on some of these local companies.
- Use your network – join support groups, reach out to other expats, and get an understanding of the employment climate in the city you’re hoping to move to. In Malmö, I found this ‘Expats in Malmö‘ Facebook group particularly helpful and eager to give advice. If you’re Canadian, you should join the ‘Canadians in Sweden‘ Facebook group.
- Look into teaching English. I have been told by locals who are teachers that there is a serious shortage of English teachers in Sweden. Therefore, many of the international schools are no longer requiring a traditional teaching degree; if you have a degree, or some form of expertise, they may hire you to teach. Get in contact with local schools and see if they are willing to work with you [these institutions also have the resources to support a visa application].
- And finally, reach out to employees at companies you’re interested in. And connect with recruiters. This was the most critical step for me. I essentially landed my dream job by subscribing to LinkedIn Premium and personal messaging the manager of a position I was very interested in. In that message, I explained that I was already in Sweden [likewise, you can explain why you are motivated to move to Sweden]. I was told by the hiring manager that they often get applicants from all over the world, and that had I not personally messaged to explain my situation, I would have likely been overlooked as ‘just looking for a visa.’
I was already in Sweden when I was invited for my first interview, despite applying to jobs for months before. And it was also once I was in Sweden that I started getting the attention of local recruiters. With that being said, I do not think it is impossible to find a job beforehand, and I am confident that had I networked a bit better, targeted the right companies, and known my resources, that I could have landed a job prior to arriving. And that means you can too!
What Else Should I Know?
When I made the overseas move, I was following my heart to be with my boyfriend, who is a local. Therefore, I just simply had to arrive and everything was set up for me. I had an apartment to move in to, a partner with a local bank account, and a network of locals that I had already met, and who were eager to introduce me to their city.
Here’s a few things you should know before moving to Sweden.
Swedish Housing Market
This is perhaps the biggest challenge, because to say the housing market is hot would be an understatement – it is basically on fire. I only have experience with the market in Malmö, where there are brand new apartments going up all over the suburbs. And yet, they can’t seem to keep up with demand.
If you’re planning to move well ahead of time and are looking to get first-hand contract, sign up on Boplats Syd here. By paying a subscription fee you get placed in a queue, and from there you express interest in apartments. The interested person who has been in the queue the longest will be offered the apartment. For older apartments, there are applicants that have been in the queue for years. However, if you’re able to pay a bit more, there are options available for brand new units. We were recently able to sign a lease for a brand new apartment fairly close to the city centre after only six months in the queue.
There are also a ton of second-hand contracts available. Although these are a bit more risky, they are definitely the easiest option.
Where to Live
Sweden is exceptionally safe. However, even the safest cities have their not-so-safe areas [even still, despite what the media says, remember that everything is relative and Sweden doesn’t have many ‘no-go zones’]. It may seem ‘easy’ to get an apartment in certain neighbourhoods; but, this also may not be a suitable place to live. Do your research, and reach out to local expat communities. They should be able to provide you advice.
Cost of Living
While this absolutely varies depending on the city and I can’t speak to all regions of Sweden, I don’t personally find Malmö to be much more expensive than life in Canada. Most day-to-day necessities are comparable, and despite being hot, the housing prices in southern Sweden aren’t anywhere close to major Canadian cities, like Toronto or Vancouver.
I’ve also found huge cost savings in not having a car. In Sweden, driving is quite unaffordable. Insurance and parking in major cities is expensive. And don’t get me started on gas. In Malmö, you can bike or take public transit everywhere. I can honestly say that not once have I missed not having my own car.
Making Friends in Sweden
The common consensus that I’ve heard amongst is that Swedes don’t like to make new friends. And while this may be true for locals, the expat community is amazing. I’ve only been here for a few weeks and I’ve already had several fika and drink dates with other expats. I’m starting to feel like I’m finding my community.
The key: Don’t be shy. Join groups. Message fellow expats. And all in all, embrace and be open minded to change.
I have called out these resources throughout this post, but here is everything I referenced consolidated into one section.
- Waiting for a Sambo Visa within Sweden Facebook group: click here
- In Sweden on a WHV and applying for a Sambo Visa Facebook group: click here
- Expats in Malmö Facebook group: click here
- Canadians in Sweden Facebook group: click here
- Boplats Syd Website for Apartments: click here
- Information on the Swedish Working Holiday Visa: click here
Any Questions, Message Me!
I had SUCH a hard time finding the Swedish visa and migration information prior to moving here. After spending a lot of time talking to expats, I wanted to consolidate all my newfound insights into this [hopefully] helpful little tool to help you get a Swedish visa.