It is widely known that all non-Eu nationals need a work permit to enter and work in Sweden. By the time an application is approved, excited employers have already waited a long time for the help and expertise their new hire will bring to the table. BUT here's the glitch - not as widely known is how important it is for your new talent to get their Residence Permit Card before entering Sweden.
When your new hires are trying to book biometrics appointments (it's a fancy word for giving fingerprints and a photograph) for their mandatory Residence Permit Card (RPC), they are met with this notice:
“At present there is a shortage of available time slots for appointments in several locations.
If you cannot find an available time slot in one location, please try again later. We regularly publish new time slots for appointments.”
This is an official text on the Swedish Migration Agency's website. These delays have been ongoing for quite some time and we do not see any signs that the timelines are getting shorter.
What does this mean in plain English?
It means that a person may travel to Sweden, unless of course they also need an entry VISA, and while the work permit is valid it can take months to get a time slot to get the Residence Permit Card. It may not sound like the biggest problem in the world, and it isn't compared to world peace and global warming, but it creates practical problems in the short term and potentially very serious consequences including possible termination of a work permit in the long term.
Why is this?
When a person registers for residency in Sweden and they are work permit holders, they have to present not only the Approval Letter from the Migration Agency, but also the Residence Permit Card. Presumably this is to prevent fraudulent identities, etc., however without the card a Personal Number cannot be sought.
Why is the Swedish Personal Number (personnummer) crucial?
Many practical problems arise without the Swedish Personal Number. Without a Swedish Personal Number, the individual will have a hard time doing pretty much anything, such as;
- open a bank account
- be part of payroll and thereby receive a salary
- open an internet account
- some rental associations require a PIN and anyone that has tried to get a gym membership can attest to that being very hard without the Personal Number.
Long term - serious issues
As I'm sure any Swedish HR is acutely aware, there are a number of insurances that need to be covered, as well as salary payments being paid punctually for the duration of employment. It becomes crucial and has been the cause for many evictions of foreign experts that have in fact had to leave Sweden due to not having their insurances for the whole time. Many years ago the Migration Agency understood and took into account the fact that the Swedish local tax authority took their time to issue Personal Numbers, especially in the summer, and did overlook the fact that not all insurances could be signed up for before the Personal Number was in place. We have seen many instances with different results in recent years due to these small discrepancies and anyone that can avoid running the risk of this happening is well advised to do so.
So what should people do???You have already waited a long time right? Your colleagues are really excited about a new member arriving to contribute. In some cases the team is really tired and have worked hard for a long time due to the skills gaps in the market. Aren't there some hacks and loopholes - aren't there always?
No safe workarounds
Employees that are VISA-free nationals run the biggest risk of running into problems since they may enter the country without having the RPC in their hand.
Then comes the showstopper - there are no available time slots to do the next step to get completely compliant and get a residence card. Is it at each company's discretion and assessment of risk to allow employees to work without the insurances? I would not since we have not seen consistency in the verdicts at the renewal stage. Given the upcoming Swedish election and the uncertainties regarding the outcome, sound advice is to NOT take any long-term risks.
Allow all your nationals to do the biometrics in their home countries so they can be up and running shortly after arrival. The Swedish embassy in each country (or nearby) makes the rules for when and how an appointment for biometrics may be made, however you should always try to book it as soon as the application has been sent in.
And let your new experts know that they should explore if they can shorten the waiting time by making the appointment before the approval has been set.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business!
You have invested heavily in finding and recruiting your new non-EU talent.
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