“Patience is a virtue” and “the devil is in the details” are two sayings that are likely to describe the essential components of a successful relocation to Sweden in 2021.
While some Swedish government agencies have operated close to normal during Covid-19 and have lived up to most promises regarding timelines and processes others have not been able to do so. For foreign talent that arrives in Sweden, the consequences can be quite severe.
So what works?
The Swedish Migration Agency has conducted business as usual throughout the entire period and work permits have been largely processed within the agreed on timelines.
There are no exceptions made due to Covid-19 except for the possibility of extending a visitor’s visa in case it isn’t possible to return to the home country. It doesn’t include the right to work in most cases.
Around Europe, many countries have automatically renewed permits in order to keep people compliant without physical visits to immigration offices. Sweden already does most of the tasks online so there hasn’t been a need for exception management, although, as we all know getting a flight to many countries has been proven to range from difficult to impossible. Hence, the temporary Visa possibility in order to avoid overstaying a Schengen Visa is welcome relief.
Biometrics for the Residency Card
The office in Stockholm has been closed for some time but is now reopened. This is where the foreign talent goes to give fingerprints and take a photo in order to get a residency card. There are limited opportunities for appointments so that should be taken into consideration.
How urgent is it to have a Residency Card?
It is crucial actually, the paper copy of the permit alone will not allow the recruit to register as a resident.
This brings us to what doesn’t work.
The Tax Agency is mainly available by appointment only.
To register as a resident you must have an address and for Non-EU nationals, a Residence Card is required.
While some nationalities, the ones that don’t need a Schengen Visa to enter, can choose to give the biometrics in Sweden it may still be better to do it in the home country if there is an open Swedish Embassy nearby.
Swedish Government Agencies operate in silos, meaning that one agency’s policies and requirements don’t take into consideration the way another agency operates well or for that matter fails to deliver services within a reasonable time.
To any Swede, it will sound strange that our most efficient Government Agency, the Tax authority isn’t able to deliver a Swedish Personal Number within a reasonable time period. A number of years back 96% of all Personal Numbers were handled within a week. Now the grim reality is that from the date of the registration it can take 12-14 weeks to get a Personal Number.
What does that mean to the applicant?
It’s not possible to open a bank account in a majority of banks. Some people with lots of time and free time go fram bank to bank and finally they may have the off-chance of finding a bank officer that is unaware of the bank’s policy and can open an account. Not seldom do problems arise later with these accounts.
No bank account and an employee without a personal number means extra work for the salary department and in some companies, it isn’t even possible to pay the salary to the employee. Not surprisingly, this is a great cause of friction between the employee and the employer.
Nimmersion partners with banks that allows our clients to open bank accounts even before they have a Personal Number, however, it’s not every single nationality that can benefit from that exception.
For companies and individuals this means that many explore options with non-traditional banks such as Revolut and Transferwise, however, these online banks also have restrictions around some nationalities.
Most insurance companies will not cover individuals unless they have a personal number since the insurance only intends to “butter the biscuit”, but the biscuit is the basic coverage for medical services and other benefits allowed each Swedish resident. The difference between the state funding and the actual loss or cost is where the insurance company will contribute.
So what? As long as the person is healthy what’s the problem?
For third-country nationals, and starting 2021 that includes UK Nationals, four mandatory insurances are required from the first day of being a resident in Sweden. Just like you just read above insurance companies are not interested in having 100% responsibility for the cost of medical services in case the Personal Number isn’t in place, hence they will wait for that piece to be in place.
Oh, and that can take 14 weeks? Yes, it can, and calling the tax agency every day doesn’t expedite the process.
While Nimmersion clients have the option of signing up for insurances, even without a Personal Number, with a company that we recommend, it may be an issue since companies often have one or several insurance companies assigned already. One option is to have a second insurance solution provider for foreign staff.
Why is that important?
As you have no doubt heard of, Kompentensutvisning (eviction of work permit holders) is often due to a lack of insurance coverage from the very beginning of the employment. This is what I mean by that authorities are working as silos. One government agency has requirements that are entirely dependent on other parts of its own organization (such as biometrics appointments being available) followed by the Tax Authority not allowing registration for residency until that step is completed and the card can be presented, which inevitably means that the insurances can’t be in place in time.
Kafkaesque? Sure is. Does it help to get a “bee in your bonnet” about it?
No, we have had all the bees already and know where solutions can be found. Many hours have been spent getting private banks to understand that the delay of the needed personal number doesn’t mean that the client isn’t trustworthy and working with an insurance provider that can work around the obstacles.
Does this take time?
Yes, it’s endless. Finding solutions to fulfill requirements takes many hours for each foreign employee. Also, having someone that knows what you don’t know is essential.
So to sum it up.
Swedish Government Agencies don’t collaborate and their demands are often in conflict with the other agency’s processes.
The Swedish Government during the time of Covid-19 had frequent recommendations (this means what you must do, but there’s no consequence in case the recommendation is ignored) without presenting a practical guide on how to do it.
The solutions are typically found by finding private companies that can provide the services at a charge with someone accountable for carrying out the service.
Can we help?
Yes, we can. The 25+ years and many, many hours not least during 2020 are there to safeguard our clients employees so that they are compliant and we start with the end in mind. The goal is that our clients should not only have a smooth arrival, but also a possibility to renew their permits safely and leave Sweden in good standing when that day comes. To do so you have to start with the end in mind.