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New regulations for permanent residence permit for PhD students

Publicerad den 27 september 2021 av Jean-Marc Orliaguet Uppdaterad den 12 oktober 2022 kl. 12:32

What rules currently apply to receive a permanent residence permit or to stay in Sweden to work/apply for work with the new regulations that came into force from 20 July 2021?

[2022-04-29] Up to four years residence permit at a time for postgraduate students

The Migration Agency has changed the rules on how long a doctoral student's residence permit can be. Instead of up to two years' residence permits at a time, doctoral students can now obtain up to four years' residence permits at a time.

Source (in Swedish): Migrationsverket

Permanent residence permit:

  • Having conducted in total four years of PhD studies during the last seven years. The time is calculated from the time that the application has been submitted.
  • Income through work or self-employment (not unemployment insurance) with a minimum duration of 18 months (an interpretation of the new law that the Migration Agency have done and may be contested in the future)
  • The new regulations apply to everyone who has not received a decision from the Migration Agency before 20 July 2021, even those that have applied before this date.
  • You cannot apply earlier than 14 days before your current residence permit expires.
  • The 18 months work requirement is calculated from the date the application is examined by the Migration Agency.
  • These last two points means that you need to have employment more than 18 months after submitting your application (18 months + the time until the Migration Agency examine your application).

Temporary residence permit for 12 months:

  • In the regulations at the Migration Agency, there are formulations about a finished degree for temporary residence permit, and until we receive other information, we assume that this means a PhD degree in this context.
  • An income is required, but in this case income from an unemployment insurance is sufficient
  • Health insurance (for those that reside(d) shorter time than needed for a Swedish personal number)

Important for our members:

  • To have an unemployment insurance Important for us as unions to do locally at respective university:
  • Inform members about the above and what actions and measures we in ST are taking to try to get a change in regulations as well as interpretations of them.
  • To contact respective university management and inform them about the new regulations, especially the requirement for 18 months of work for a permanent residence permit. With the aim to make the vice chancellor (rektor) to take action through SUHF.

What we do at national level as university division within ST:

  • Contact has been taken with the Migration Agency for clarifications of purpose of the new regulations and clarify for them the consequences of the change in regulations.
  • Contact has been taken with ST leadership to get support with lobbying politicians and other decision makers.
  • Collaboration has been initiated with Sulf:s doctoral candidate section and SFS doctoral committee
  • Continuous feedback and updates to local representatives of ST.
  • Publication of our activities into public arena

Informative links:

Q & A / 2021-10-29

Anna Stupak - International HR Coordinator, ISMO, Chalmers anna.stupak@chalmers.se

Is it still so that there is a special requirements saying “The Swedish Migration Agency considers you to meet the duration requirement if you have permanent employment, or if you have fixed-term employment lasting at least 18 months from the date on which your application is EXAMINED.” ?

In order to obtain a permanent residence permit, you must be able to support yourself through income from employment or your own company, or a combination of employment and your own company. You might provide incomes from one job or add up income from several part-time-jobs. The Swedish Migration Agency considers you to meet the duration requirement if you have permanent employment, or if you have fixed-term employment lasting at least 18 months from the date on which your application is examined. / Special requirements

We should use relocation companies since they have experience and closer contacts to migrationsverket. Some companies like Volvo use them and their employees get permits very quickly and without problems. Chalmers has permanently employed colleagues who are waiting for the residence permit since March this year! Comments on this?

Chalmers uses services of the relocation company Human Entrance when it comes to the work permits (arbetstillstånd). I assume it is similar to Volvo. However, when it comes to the residence permits for research and doctoral studies it is an individual who applies for the permit. The handling time has indeed increased especially after summer. My recommendation would be to get in touch with the MA and request feedback. To wait since March is unreasonably long. • For doctoral students: GB-ORB-STUD@migrationsverket.se • For researchers: norrkoping-tillstandsenhet2-teaminternationella@migrationsverket.se

Have these changes led to a drop in doctoral candidates currently? Do you foresee this happening?

I can't say with certainty that we see a drop because of the changes in the law, that kind of data is difficult to collect. Instead, we see an increase of incoming international staff due to corona-restrictions have been lifted.

Is it really a requirement to have 4 years residency without interruption during the last 7 years? Is it not possible to have an exchange period at another university for instance..?

The Aliens Act says: The interruption implies that a person spends time outside Sweden for more than 6 months in a row during the same year or for more than 10 month all together during a 5 year period. If you travelled abroad for short visits or holiday for example, it has no impact on the period of habitual residence in Sweden. But if you were abroad for more than six weeks in total during a year, the entire time you were outside Sweden must be subtracted from the period of habitual residence.

What are the maintenance requirements for long-term residence? (i.e. how are they different from the sustainable income requirement for the regular permanent residence?) Also, are the requirements for long-term residence regulated by the EU or Sweden?

To obtain status as a long-term resident of Sweden, you must be able to support yourself and your family financially. It should be sufficient for long-term period of time, and not to be burden to the social insurance system. It is accepted if wholly or partially your financial support is coming from the members of your family, or from the regular return on the capital, pensions. There is no particular amount, but the Migration Agency will estimate if it sufficient according to your living conditions and circumstances. They also assess your future working capacity by looking into your employability and regularity of your financial incomes.

The maintenance requirement for PRP doesn't include family member's income, wealth or return from the capital, unemployment benefits, various forms of grants or scholarships, undeclared work or employment without the legal right to work.

Long-term residence is regulated by the EU agreements (Council Directive 203/109/EG and 2011/51/EU) as well Swedish legislation §5 in the Aliens Act. Having long-term residence, you can live in another EU-country up to 6 years. You can transfer the status to another country, be sure to check what local regulations apply first.

Is it possible to ask universities to hire postdoc with a contract of minimum of 2 years and make migration agency legally binding to process the permanent resident permit applications within 6 months of submitting the application?

I anticipate that we will see more changes and adjustments in employment forms because of the law amendments. Employment contracts are object of negotiation within the current regulations, etc collective agreement.

What will happen if a phd candidate get a post doc position after the PhD? To mention, post doc position contract is given for 1 year.

To work as a post doc/researcher you need to have a residence permit for researcher which you apply to as soon as you got an offer and as long your current permit is valid. You apply for the extension of the permit for researcher until you have 5 years of habitual residence in total (based on your permits) and then you apply for long-term residence status.

How do the unemployment benefits (A-Kassa) work after a PhD student is done with his/her PhD. The PhD student will move to a ‘job search’ visa after the PhD. Usually for this, the student has to show a minimum balance in their bank account for maintenance requirement. How does A-kassa work during this period?

You can read more about unemployment benefits here Unemployment insurance benefits You can read what documentation that you need to supply for the looking for job -permit.

There is a qualifying period as a member of usually 12 months to be eligible for unemployment benefit/A-kassa. Income insurance and a-kassa is NOT the same thing.

If one decide to do another master after PhD , will we be exempt from tuition fee? (as one of the last ways if one don't find a job)

I would suggest to escalate this question to the Study director of your research school alternatively to Deputy Head for Research and Graduate Education in your department. There is no decision about this at the moment.

After phd if someone get postdoc position, migration agency will grant then study permit visa or permanent residence permit?

To be able to work as a postdoc/researcher you need to obtain a residence permit for researcher. If you meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit (PRP), you can choose to apply for it at the same time using the same application form.

Is the long term residency status only applicable to people that already have citizenship from a country in the EU?

No. This status is available for those who have been continuously living in Sweden for at least 5 years, despite citizenship, as well as have had a residence permit, or legal residence in Sweden on other grounds, for the previous five years.

If we have visa to seek employment, you mentioned we should leave country if we want to apply for a research permit. Should we leave “during” processing of our application or can we leave and enter again “after” getting the decision on research permit?

It is required to both submit and receive the decision outside of Sweden. This particular requirement concerns if you apply for the research-permit or doctoral studies-permit. Would you apply for a work-permit, then there is no need to leave Sweden.

After a PhD of for instance 4.5 years and a "temporary residence permit to look for employment" for >6 months, can the 5-year-requirement for long-term residency/permanent residence be considered fulfilled? If so, does the applicant need to leave Sweden while applying?

Residence permit to look for employment doesn't count when considering the total time for applying for long-term residency/PRP. A residence permit for work, research and doctoral studies, or a stay in Sweden with a right of residence may only be included. If you have had a Swedish residence permit for, for example, studies that are not at a doctoral level or for a visit, you cannot count this period of time.

Following the above question, if the duration of visa to seek for employment cannot be considered, is it an interruption to meet 5 years to apply for long-term residency (meaning that the counter for 5 years will become zero)?

Job seeking permit is not included in the counter for 5 years.

After completing 4 years of Postdoc research, If I join a Stipendium position for next 2 years in another University. Would I be able to get a residence permit for another 2 years?

Yes, you will be able to prolong your permit for researcher for another 2 years. However, having a stipend position will mean that you don't meet the requirement for a PRP after 4 years, but you will be able to apply for the long-term residency after 5 years (keep in mind that assessment of your current and future financial situation is carried out by the MA ).

Does doing a licentiate versus doing a half-way seminar make a difference in applying for a job-seeking permit after graduation?

The fact is the job seeking permit requires competed studies, which implies that you need to have an exam, so having licentiate exam will entitle you to apply for the permit after studies.

If one was hired as a project assistant for 6 months before the PhD, does this count towards the 4 or 5 years?

If it was a work permit or research permit, then yes it will be included in the both 4-years (PRP) and 5-years habitual residence (long-term residence).

If I had 4 years researcher permit + 1 year seeking job, con I get a long term resident permit?

It is total period of time based on a residence permit for work, research and doctoral studies, or a stay in Sweden with a right of residence that may be included. A seeking job permit is not included therefore can't be counted in.