Dependents need a job in Sweden to be able to stay permanently

Being employed in Sweden is meaningful for many reasons and not only for immigration purposes. 

It’s a way to develop new skills, be of service, and hopefully add something great to the community, company, country, and world you live in. Whether it’s micro or macro it matters to other people and most often yourself. 

For ex-pats that move to Sweden, it’s the way to meet new people, learn Swedish, understand the Swedish way, and of course to support yourself. 


Swedes are shy and the best way to get to know them is to work together. It’s also good for learning Swedish since you will be surrounded by Swedish speakers all day. 

However, writing this blog isn’t just done for integration or social purposes, it’s because it has also become the law for dependents to work in order to be able to apply for permanent residency. 

For non-EU/EEA nationals a job is essential to be allowed to stay in Sweden. Not only must the principal work permit holder have a job for at least 48 months before applying for permanent residency, but also the spouse must be gainfully employed at that time. 

When this law was introduced in 2021 it came as a surprise to many, including the Migration agency that didn’t know how to interpret it. 

Now we are happy to be able to share more insights around the maintenance requirements and more importantly how the dependents’ requirements will be interpreted by the Migration agency. 

  1. Dependents should have employment offers for at least an additional 18 months into the future. 
  2. Sufficient level of income
  3. Be a law-abiding citizen

Children under 18 are exempt from the income requirement and will get residence permits along with the principal applicant. 

So what is the hidden message here? 

Firstly, a generous welfare state needs tax money to provide public services and that means people have to work and contribute their share. 

Secondly, it reveals that the high taxes makes it almost impossible to have only one person in a household in the job market, hence it’s a wonderful country for dual-career couples. Especially if they have children since daycare is very inexpensive and the fee is actually offset by the child allowance that all parents get. The schools are free, medical and dental care costs nothing for children and medical services are also very inexpensive for adults. 

Thirdly, as much as the Swedish government wants dependents to work they are also very concerned that the terms of work are fair. Hence, all the terms for work will be checked to safeguard the wellbeing of the individual.

Lastly,  following the law and not having a criminal record is also important to be allowed to stay. Don’t worry about parking tickets, they are looking for crimes, not oversights. 

The good thing for newcomers to Sweden is that you have several years to convert licenses if needed, learn Swedish, create a network, and contact recruiters so you can be part of the permanent residency approval process in a few years. It’s 48 months after the initial permit that this is possible. Should the person still be studying, be on parental leave, it’s possible to renew the residence permit, however for most people it’s a nice feeling to know that you are a full resident with rights and responsibilities and not have to reapply over and over again. 

So what happens if a spouse doesn’t have a current job today or a job lined up? 

For unemployed or adult students a permit for permanent residence will not be approved, however, a residence permit can be extended two years at a time. A permanent residency can only be granted if the dependent has a job. Having sufficient means or having a spouse that can support the dependent isn’t taken into account. 

If the dependent still doesn’t have employment after an additional two years then it’s highly likely that the residence permit can be extended again as long as the principal work permit holder is still able to support the family members. 

An adequate level of income

The level is calculated on an annual basis and takes housing costs into account as well as living expenses. Parental benefits and sick leave benefits can be taken into consideration if it doesn’t exceed 18 months in duration. 

Law-abiding citizens

To stay in Sweden having abided by the law will be essential and the Migration Agency will check police records within and outside of Sweden. 

Why not sign up for our webinar series on this and other questions. The Nimmersion Immigration Team has a four-eye policy, daily knowledge sharing meets, and get consistently 98% satisfaction rates. 

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