Checking in a couple of months later, to catch people up.
After applying for the Swedish Visa in April, there were some bumps and curves to the road that might be hard to explain without a recap.
How to get a Visa via Employment
The Swedish official sites explain things pretty well, but I’ll paraphrase, since for the Work Permit, it just talks about after getting a job offer.
To make a job offer eligible to use for a visa:
- the company has to meet some criteria (years in business, number of international hires they’ve done, a few things – get used to “it depends”). It may be harder to hire for some occupations as well.
- They have to post the job listing on a particular Sweden/EU job board for at least 2 weeks before they can offer it to a non-EU citizen. The ID of the posting is required in the next step and it is checked
- They have to fill out a job offer with the Migration Board
- The job offer is supposed to be offered with union approval of terms. (More on that within my personal experience.)
Now the ball moves to the employee’s side of the work
- The employee has to begin the Visa application, which connects to the offer.
- You’ll have to scan and attach a LOT of documentation. If you are wanting your spouse and children to come with you, documentation for all of them at this same time.
- There’s a fee. This is one of the only fees we’ve encountered so far, so don’t fret.
- The migration board has to process and decide. If you have all your info really clear, solid, and correct, it can take as little as two weeks as of the time of this writing. Check here for the current posted wait time.
How it went for us
Well, I spun my wheels for a couple of weeks chasing Union approval. My company is small and not currently associated with any unions. This meant that no union wanted to respond. I simply called the Migration Board and asked what I should do. They gave me permission in that call to go ahead without it and they would try from their side.
I put in the application on 24 April (Thursday). The following Friday, I got a form email that “My case had been decided”, with a lot of info about what may happen next, including that I would get my decision in the mail from the Embassy. My new boss, understandably, was quite keen to know how it went and encouraged me to call to find out what the decision was, rather than wait. Early Tuesday, (I was offline Monday) I got an email that was from my new boss to the migration board detailing what benefits I was getting.
As it turned out, my decision was “Denied”, as there was an odd checkbox on the Job Offer that was unclear. It spoke to what requirements needed to be met for benefits for the offer, and the wrong one was ticked. After that email detailing the benefits, the decision was reversed and approved. And that was that.
As of the time of this writing, we’re visiting Sweden ahead of our relocation for two weeks to get to know the place better, as well as take care of the most critical ‘after approval’ steps: 1) residence permit card from the Migration Board (book your appointment early on their site, they fill up fast and far in advance) and 2) with the permit card, you can go apply for a personnummer from the Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency). Until you have a personnummer, you can’t open a bank account, for example.
Something to also be aware of: There is a notable rental shortage depending on what city. I’ve heard Stockholm is a nightmare, but Gothenburg isn’t easy either. You may be better off as a buyer if you can manage it. Many of the properties in the city are owned by municipally owned companies, and they are legally required to rent based on position in the queue run by the government. The queue can take years. Many large private landlord companies also used that position/queue system. As a result, what you’re most likely to find are small private landlords or people looking to sublet for short term.
As we grapple with this process of securing a home (we have a short term solution), I would strongly advise that you plan to rent a furnished flat anywhere you can get one initially to learn the area, minimize how much you need to buy and subsequently move. If at all possible, see if you can negotiate help with housing from your company, such as corporate rental for 3-6 months or even buy for you with rent coming from your pay.
If I can get a better handle on the rental game, I’ll try to put together a better “US vs Sweden: The Rental Market” post.