Visa Requirements for Sweden

Swedish building with bridge and flags
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When it comes to planning your international vacation to Sweden, the first thing you'll need to ensure is that you have the right documents to legally enter the country, including passports and tourist visas. Citizens from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Japan, and several other nations are able to visit Sweden with nothing more than a passport, as long as it doesn't expire for at least three months after you plan to leave.

Sweden is also a part of the Schengen Agreement, which allows for border-free travel between member nations. For travelers, this means threy no longer have to apply for individual tourist visas for each country and can instead pass through many in one trip. The Schengen member countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Any traveler who has a passport from a non-exempt country must apply for Schengen Tourist Visa in order to visit Sweden and any of the other Schengen Area countries. Likewise, anyone who isn't an EU national but wants to work, study, or live in Sweden must apply for a visa.

Visa Requirements for Sweden
Visa Type How Long Is It Valid? Required Documents Application Fees
Schengen Tourist Visa 90 days in any 180-day period Bank statements, proof of medical insurance, hotel reservations, roundtrip plane tickets Up to 80 euros
Work Visa Up to 2 years Scan of passport 2,000 Swedish kronor
Student Visa Up to 1 year Letter of acceptance into program, health insurance, proof of sufficient funds 1,500 Swedish kronor
Family Visa Duration of sponsor's visa Certificate or documentation that shows family relation Up to 2,000 Swedish kronor

Schengen Tourist Visa

Many visitors to Sweden don't need a tourist visa to enter, but travelers from non-exempt countries must apply and be approved for a Schengen Tourist Visa before departing. The Schengen visa gives the holder all of the same rights as a traveler from a visa-exempt country, meaning they can travel freely around the Schengen Area for up to 90 days. It's important to note if your visa allows for multiple entries into the Schengen Area or just a single entry, especially you plan to hop around and visit non-Schengen countries on your trip (such as the U.K. or Ireland).

Visa Fees and Application

The process for submitting your application depends on what country your passport is from and what country you currently reside in. Sweden doesn't have embassies in every country of the world and even the countries that do have embassies often outsource their consular services, so use the Embassy of Sweden portal to find your home country and specific application procedure.

Whether you make your appointment at a visa processing center, a Swedish consulate, or a proxy consulate, the documents you need and the general process is more or less the same.

  • You'll need to submit the completed application form, a passport-sized photograph, a roundtrip plane ticket, hotel booking, travel insurance, and proof of funds.
  • Pay the visa fee of 80 euros, which is payable in the local currency and can usually be paid for with a credit card.
  • If your appointment is at a visa processing center, you'll likely have to pay an additional processing fee.
  • At the appointment, the consular officer will conduct an interview and take your fingerprints.
  • Schengen Tourist Visas are typically processed within 15 business days.

Work Visa

Anyone who is not an EU national and coming to Sweden for work must apply for a work visa before entering the country. In general, you must have a job offer before applying for a work visa, unless you're self-employed or starting a business venture in Sweden.

Work visas are granted for the duration of the work contract for a period of up to two years at a time and can be renewed if the work continues. The visa is valid for the specific job you were originally hired for and if you want to change companies or make another change, you'll need to apply for a new visa.

Visa Fees and Application

Applying for a work visa in Sweden is a relatively simple process that is done completely online, although it can be drawn out. If you have been hired by a Swedish company, the employer starts the process by submitting your personal details, work contract, and company information to the Swedish Migration Agency. If you're self-employed, you'll have to complete these steps on your own.

  • Once the Swedish Migration Agency receives your information from the employer, you'll receive an email to upload a scan of your passport and information about yourself and your family members (if they're joining you).
  • Pay the visa fee online, which is 2,000 Swedish kronor.
  • The waiting time for a response varies. Highly-skilled workers may hear back in a couple of months, service workers usually take six to eight months, and self-employed applicants take up to 18 months.
  • If the Migration Agency needs to follow up for more information, the processing time can be delayed even longer.
  • Once you're approved, you can immediately head to Sweden and complete the final steps in person at the Migration Agency office if you're from a visa-exempt country.
  • If you're approved and are from a non-exempt country, you must make an appointment at your nearest consulate or visa center to have your photo and fingerprints taken before receiving your residency card. The card is what allows you to enter Sweden.

Student Visa

Student visas are required for anyone not from the EU coming to Sweden to study for longer than 90 days. If your studies are less than 90 days and your passport is from a Schengen visa-exempt country, then you can just enter Sweden as a tourist without a visa. If you're from a non-exempt country, you'll apply for the Schengen Tourist Visa but mark that the purpose of your visit is "studies," (which conveniently also waives the 80 euro fee).

For those who will be studying in Sweden for a semester, a year, or for the duration of an entire degree, you'll have to apply for a student visa. You must have already been accepted into an accredited higher education program as a full-time student before you can apply for the visa. Once you have, the entire visa application process can be done completely online, using the same documents as you need for other visas plus a letter of acceptance into the program. Student visa fees are 1,500 Swedish kronor.

The processing time for student visas generally takes one to three months unless the Migration Agency needs to follow up for additional information. If you're from a visa-exempt country, once you receive a favorable decision you can travel to Sweden and complete the process to receive your residency card from the Migration Authority office. If you're from a non-exempt country, you'll have to go to the appropriate office in your home country to have your photo and fingerprints taken. Once you receive the physical residency card, you can travel to Sweden.

Family Visa

If you are a Swedish citizen, EU citizen, permanent resident, or have been granted a work visa or certain student visas, you are eligible to bring certain family members with you to live in Sweden. The only types of family members who are officially permitted are your same or opposite-sex spouse, domestic partner, or cohabitating partner, as well as your children under the age of 21. However, if you can demonstrate that another family member is dependent on you for care, you can also petition to bring them (an elderly parent, for example).

If the sponsor is a citizen or a permanent resident of Sweden, then the joining family members will also obtain permanent residency. If the sponsor has been granted a work visa or a student visa, then the family members are only allowed to stay as long as the sponsor is legally residing in Sweden.

The exact process varies based on the residency status of the sponsor and the type of family relation, so carefully read over the most up-to-date information from the Swedish Migration Agency. However, the basic framework of what steps need to be taken are more or less the same. Regardless of the relation, the applicant cannot already be living in Sweden and must apply from their home country.

The application process is started online and can be done by the applicant or by the sponsor if granted power of attorney. You'll need to upload documentation that shows the relation between the sponsor and the applicant—such as a marriage certificate—that's been authenticated by local authorities and translated into Swedish or English. The application fee is 2,000 Swedish kronor for adult applicants and 1,500 kronor for applicants under 18.

After the application is submitted, the sponsor will be emailed a questionnaire about their income, living space, and ability to maintain and support the applicant. Once the information is reviewed, the applicant must schedule an appointment for an interview at the nearest Swedish consulate in their home country. The total processing time varies depending on the individual circumstances, but can range from a few months to longer than a year.

Visa Overstays

Overstaying your visa is a serious matter and the consequences can affect your future travel not just in Sweden, but in the entire Schengen Area. All tourists are allowed to visit the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, so grab a calendar and go to the date you expect to return home. From there, go back 180 days—about six months—and add up every day you were in a Schengen country. If that number is 90 days or less, you don't need to worry.

If that number is over 90, then you're overstaying your visa and the potential consequences include a fine, detention, deportation, or even being banned from returning to the Schengen Area.

Extending Your Visa

If you're in Sweden and you're required to stay longer than 90 days, you must apply for a visa extension or a visitor's permit. The visa extension is a one-time decision to extend your visa for an additional 90 days, while the visitor's permit can continue to be renewed for additional time if necessary. Regardless of the type of extension you request, you'll need to justify it with extraordinary circumstances, such as a global pandemic, humanitarian crisis, natural disaster, medical emergency, etc.

Since the visitor's permit can be renewed, it offers more flexibility during tumultuous situations, but it also costs nearly five times the price. The one-time extension costs 30 euros while the visitor's permit costs 1,500 Swedish kronor, or roughly 145 euros (the currencies are different because the extension is considered a Schengen process while the visitor's permit is granted by the Swedish government). You can apply for either extension at the nearest Swedish Migration Agency office.

Article Sources
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  1. Swedish Migration Agency. "If you do not need a visa to travel to Sweden." July 13, 2020.