Sweden, the country of balance and diversity, is a top destination when it comes to higher education. Being among the top education leaders in the world, universities in Sweden use teaching methods based on “freedom with responsibility”.
There are plenty of reasons why international students choose to study a degree in Sweden. These include the opportunity to pursue a tuition-free programme for students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
Student visa vs residence permit in Sweden
First things first: students from EU/EEA countries do not need to apply for a student visa or a residence permit. Still, if they stay in Sweden for more than a year — which is very likely considering the length of study programmes — they have to register with the Swedish Population Register and receive a personal identity number.
Students who are NOT from the EU/EEA have to apply for a student visa or a residence permit. But what's the difference?
- the student visa is for non-EU/EEA citizens who only plan to stay and study in Sweden for less than 90 days
- the residence permit is for non-EU/EEA citizens who will stay more than 90 days for their studies in Sweden
Throughout the rest of this article we will use the terms "student visa" and "residence permit" interchangeably, but keep in mind the difference between the two.
Apply to a Swedish university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Sweden, you will have to decide before you can start your visa/residence permit application process. After being accepted at a Swedish university, you’ll receive an acceptance letter required for the visa/residence permit application.
Consider some of the best universities in Sweden:
- Linnaeus University
- University of Boras
- Jonkoping University
- Uppsala University
- KTH Royal Institute of Technology
- Chalmers University of Technology
Before applying for the Swedish student visa
There are a few conditions that you need to fulfil in order to be eligible for the student visa/residence permit. You can find them below:
- The university study programme you applied to must be full-time.
- You must have a written confirmation that you have been admitted. List of universities recognised in Sweden.
- You are recommended to pay the first tuition fee instalment (only if there is any tuition to be paid).
- If you stay less than one year, you are required to have comprehensive health insurance. Learn more about international student insurance for students studying in Sweden.
- Your passport should be valid for minimum 6 months.
When and where to apply for the student visa in Sweden?
You can apply online on the Swedish Migration Agency website or at the local Swedish embassy or consulate in your country. If you chose to apply online, the processing time will start right away and will be shorter, since the documents directly reach the Swedish Migration Authority.
This period is influenced by the amount of information your file contains. You should make sure your file has all the required documents, in order to avoid adding information after you apply.
Visit the Swedish embassy or consulate in your country to be photographed and fingerprinted and to receive your residence permit card.
The decision regarding your visa/residence permit is announced via email and you will be required to make an appointment and collect the documents with the official decision. The decision document is also sent to your university.
You should apply for the student visa/residence permit as early as possible since the regular waiting time is around 2–3 months. When you apply for the visa at the local embassy, you should also present the original versions of the required documents.
Tips about the visa/residence permit application
- You will have to go through an interview when you submit your visa application.
- Make an appointment at the embassy to schedule an interview.
- Remember to bring your passport and original copies of the documents.
Language requirements for studying in Sweden
There is no specific language requirement for your study visa in Sweden. The universities will require proof of language proficiency for either Swedish or English, which is part of the successful admission at a Swedish university. The Swedish Migration Agency will simply demand the university acceptance letter.
Swedish universities offer study programmes taught both in Swedish and English. However, most English study programmes are available for postgraduate level (Master’s and PhD courses). English language tests accepted by universities in Sweden:
Documents required for the student visa in Sweden
- Receipt proving you've paid the residence permit application fee of 145 EUR.
- Copies of the pages from your passport with personal information, validity period and the permission to live in another country.
- The letter of acceptance from the university that states that you have been admitted for a full-time course. If you applied for a PhD degree, the duration of the course must be specified.
- Proof that you have comprehensive medical insurance coverage in Sweden (if your study lasts for less than a year). This applies also if the university or university college covers your insurance.
- A bank statement that proves you can financially support yourself: minimum of 840 EUR/month or 165 EUR/month if you receive free food and accommodation. The document must cover the duration of your study and to be translated into English. You can also attach documents that show that you’ve received a scholarship, student aid or, in the case of PhD students, an educational grant or employment in research.
Apply for a work permit in Sweden
As an EU/EEA citizen, you are entitled to work in Sweden without a work permit. Non-EU/EEA citizens will need a work permit; however, the employer in Sweden will apply for a work permit on your behalf at the Swedish Migration Agency.
During university studies, you are allowed to work without hourly restrictions. But you are advised not to neglect your education since you will have to prove that you will have made progress and show satisfactory academic results.