Internship Legislation and Students Visa in Sweden

Navigating Internships and Student Visas in Sweden: A Guide

Sweden, the Scandinavian marvel, is not merely a place of auroras and pristine landscapes, but also a magnet for ambitious students eyeing internships. From the vibrant streets of Stockholm to the mesmerizing Northern Lights, Sweden promises an unforgettable journey. Venturing into an internship in Sweden requires a comprehensive understanding of the country’s legislation and visa guidelines for students.

Discover boundless horizons: attain expert clarity on internship norms and student visa protocols in Sweden. Piktalent brings you the freshest advice for global citizens, EU, and non-EU aspirants. Ignite your dreams in the Swedish realm today!

EU citizens

Sweden, renowned for its high educational standards and robust welfare system, continues to be a beacon for interns from around the world. With its EU membership, the process is even more seamless for EU citizens. The Swedish labour market operates under a blend of legislation, collective agreements, and individual employment contracts.

1. Duration and Conditions

Internships in Sweden can span various durations, but most commonly, they last from a few months to a year. The Swedish Working Environment Act (Arbetsmiljölagen) remains a cornerstone, ensuring that interns, akin to other employees, benefit from a safe and health-promoting work environment. This encompasses suitable working hours, vacation entitlements, and tasks tailored to the intern’s physical and mental abilities.

2. Internship Contract 

An internship agreement in Sweden is not just a formality—it’s a necessity. This written contract should clearly outline:

  • The internship’s purpose and objectives.
  • The duration.
  • Any remuneration.
  • Working hours and other employment conditions.
  • The rights and responsibilities of both parties.

Both the intern and the employer should have a signed copy. While there isn’t a dedicated “internship law”, the general employment rules in Sweden guide these agreements.

3. Remuneration and Unpaid Internships in Sweden 

While unpaid internships are not widespread in Sweden, they do exist. Many organizations, however, offer some form of compensation, whether symbolic or covering basic expenses. The Swedish Employment Protection Act (Lag om anställningsskydd) emphasizes fairness, ensuring that interns fulfilling the duties of a regular employee receive appropriate compensation.

4. After Arrival in Sweden for EU Citizens

For EU citizens arriving in Sweden:

  • For internships exceeding three months, it’s mandatory to register with the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket).
  • It’s highly recommended for EU citizens to register with the Swedish Population Register at the local tax office (Skatteverket). By doing this, they can receive a personal identity number, which is crucial for many aspects of daily life in Sweden, from opening a bank account to accessing health services.
5. Personal Identity Number (Personnummer)

Apply for Personnummer:
This number is essential for accessing various services in Sweden, such as healthcare. It is obtained from the Swedish Tax Agency after registering the address.

Required Documents:
They may need to provide a passport, employment contract, and proof of address when applying.

6. Social Security Contributions for Interns in Sweden

Sweden boasts a multifaceted social security system, encompassing everything from parental leave to elderly care, and it’s applicable to all residents. The primary funding for this system comes from statutory contributions made by both employers and employees.

Employer Contributions: All employers in Sweden are mandated to pay statutory social security contributions for their employees. These contributions encompass charges for pensions, health insurance, and other social benefits. As of 2023, these contributions stand at 31.42% of an employee’s gross salary. However, for employees aged between 15 and 18, this rate is reduced to 10.21%. It’s crucial for employers to stay updated with the latest regulations to ensure compliance.
Employee Contributions: Employees contribute 7% of their wages or salaries to the pension system through the general pension fee. This fee is part of the income tax and is deducted at the source by employers. Notably, employees don’t have to pay this fee on income portions exceeding SEK 557,250 (as of 2023).
Unpaid Internships: Unpaid interns might not contribute to the social security system, but if they’re registered and residing in Sweden, they could still be eligible for certain benefits, such as health insurance.

7. Remuneration Law for Internships in Sweden

Fair Compensation: Sweden doesn’t operate on a minimum wage law. Instead, wages, including those for internships, are often determined through collective bargaining agreements between employers and unions. If an intern is part of a sector with a strong union presence, these agreements could influence their compensation.
Employment Protection Act: The Swedish Employment Protection Act emphasizes that interns, whose roles and responsibilities align with those of regular employees, should receive appropriate compensation. This means that if an intern performs tasks similar to a salaried employee, they have a valid argument for fair remuneration based on this act.
Unpaid Internships: While unpaid internships are present in Sweden, many sectors and companies offer some form of compensation. This could be in the form of a stipend, transportation and meal allowances, or other benefits instead of a traditional salary. The trend is leaning towards fair compensation, especially in sectors with influential trade unions or public sector roles.

Non-EU citizens

Visas and Residence Permits for Internships in Sweden for Non-EU Citizens:
  1. Visa Requirements:

    • If your country of origin has a visa waiver agreement with Sweden, you can enter the country without a visa for short stays (usually up to 90 days). However, this doesn’t grant you the right to work or intern; for that, you need a residence permit.
    • If your country does not have a visa waiver agreement, you’ll need to apply for a visa to enter Sweden, even for short stays.
  2. Residence Permit for Internships:

    • Internships longer than 90 days require a residence permit.
    • To apply, you’ll need an offer or contract from the Swedish company or organization where you’re interning. The offer should specify details like the duration of the internship, conditions of the internship (paid/unpaid), and more.
    • Other required documents might include proof of health insurance, evidence of financial support during your stay (if the internship is unpaid), and possibly others based on individual circumstances.
    • Applications are usually done online through the Swedish Migration Agency’s website, followed by a visit to a Swedish embassy or consulate if required.
    • It’s recommended to apply several months in advance, as processing times can vary and sometimes take a while.
  3. Extensions:

    • If your internship gets extended or if you find a job in Sweden after your internship, you might be eligible to apply for an extension or change your permit type. Always refer to the Swedish Migration Agency for such transitions.
  4. Work While Interning:

    • Depending on the terms of your residence permit, you might be allowed to work part-time or full-time during your internship. It’s essential to confirm these details before taking up any additional employment.
  5. Family Members:

    • If you have family members who wish to join you in Sweden during your internship, they may need to apply for their permits. The requirements vary depending on the relationship (spouse, children, etc.) and the duration of their stay.
  6. Post-Internship:

    • After your internship, if you secure a job offer in Sweden, you can apply for a work permit. The application process for a work permit is different from that of an internship residence permit, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and requirements.

Swedish Working Visas

Job regulations for foreigners

Here are some vital steps you should follow to ensure a seamless and enjoyable stay:

  1. Registration with the Swedish Migration Agency: Upon arrival in Sweden, it’s essential to register with the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket). This agency handles all matters concerning visas, residence permits, and more for foreign citizens in Sweden.

  2. Obtain a Residence Permit for Internships: For non-EU citizens, a residence permit for internships is required if your internship exceeds 90 days. The Swedish company or organization you’re interning with should provide an offer or contract which will be pivotal for your application. Be aware that the processing time can vary, so it’s advisable to apply well in advance.

  3. Setting Up Local Amenities: Once in Sweden, you’ll want to set up some basic amenities for your stay. This might include opening a Swedish bank account, securing a SIM card for local communication, and familiarizing yourself with the local transportation system, such as the comprehensive Swedish rail and bus networks.

It’s essential always to check the latest information and requirements on the Swedish Migration Agency’s official website or consult with the Swedish embassy or consulate in your country. Regulations can change, and individual circumstances might affect eligibility and the application process.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Internships in Sweden commonly span a few months to a year, with interns protected by the Swedish Working Environment Act, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, suitable working hours, vacation entitlements, and tasks matching their abilities.

Yes, an internship agreement is essential. It should outline the internship’s purpose, duration, remuneration, working hours, and both parties’ rights and responsibilities, following general employment rules.

Unpaid internships exist but are not widespread. The Swedish Employment Protection Act emphasizes fair compensation for interns performing regular employee duties.

EU citizens should register with the Swedish Migration Agency for longer internships and with the Swedish Population Register to obtain a personal identity number, crucial for various aspects of life in Sweden.

To apply for a Personnummer, interns should contact the Swedish Tax Agency and may need to provide a passport, employment contract, and proof of address.

Yes, social security contributions apply to all residents in Sweden. Employers contribute around 31.42% of an employee’s gross salary, while employees contribute 7% of their wages to the pension system.

Compensation for interns in Sweden is often determined through collective bargaining agreements between employers and unions. The Swedish Employment Protection Act mandates fair compensation for interns whose roles resemble those of regular employees. Unpaid interns may receive benefits in some cases.

If your country has a visa waiver with Sweden, you can visit for up to 90 days without a visa but need a residence permit for longer internships. Otherwise, you’ll need a visa for any stay.

Secure an internship offer, gather required documents like health insurance proof and apply online through the Swedish Migration Agency. Visit a Swedish embassy or consulate if needed. Apply well in advance due to varying processing times.

Yes, if your internship extends or you find a job, you can apply for permit extensions or changes through the Swedish Migration Agency.

Family members may need permits based on their relation and stay duration. Requirements vary.

If you secure a job offer, apply for a work permit. Note that the application process is different from an internship residence permit.

Register with the Swedish Migration Agency upon arrival, obtain a residence permit if needed, and set up local amenities like a bank account, local SIM card, and transportation knowledge. Always check for updated information on the Swedish Migration Agency’s website or consult the embassy for changes and individual circumstances.

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