Ukrainian Refugees and Immigration to Sweden

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Sweden  is probably one of the to go to destinations as an ordinary traveller or  even in crisis situations. To confirm how attractive Sweden is to visitors, up to 1.96 million people visited the country in 2020 ( this is according to https://www.worlddata.info/).

On the other hand, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-Sweden reported that there were 12,991  people who registered as asylum-seekers in the country. Most of the people who find safety in Sweden are nationals of Syria, Uzbekistan and from Ukraine.

Sweden as country offers refuge to many and does everything possible to give these traumatised immigrants a  new lease of life through integration  into the society. Whether you are running away from war or socio-political persecutions, Sweden got you a safe home. The case is not any different for people who wish to migrate to Sweden as tourists, job seekers, students, researchers, cultural exchange et cetera. The country has enough space for career and personal development and attractive  historical sites that will fulfil anyone’s desire for sheer  adventure.

Moving to Sweden under crisis situation

Sweden has a duty to unconditionally offer safety to immigrants without any discriminations. Sweden’s obligation to the UN charter on human rights require that they unconditionally provide home for people at risk of being violated. Just to be a little legalistic, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) allows cross border migrations borders and be given safe home in neighbouring countries or even miles away. The main priority in this case is not what anyones nationality is but a need to secure lives.

It is not guaranteed that anyone facing a threat to certain human rights will be automatically given asylum or refuge in Sweden. Take for instance a bewildered president Putin trying to run away from Russia to Sweden….that won’t happen. You cannot be allowed to misuse international protections to run away from facing the law at home on things not done correctly.

Anyone who has been an asylum seeker, refugee or witnessed people in undergoing similar predicaments know too well that it is never amusing. These are forced immigrations where people don’t have enough time to plan a trip, leave alone putting together travel documents. The only thing that the asylum seeker or refugee is focused on is having own life and that of family.

So many people  fleeing from the Taliban regime in  Afghanistan , war in Syria and Iran, civil strife in Ethiopia, tribal clashes in DRC, and now war in Ukraine find themselves in Sweden. An asylum seeker or refugee can enter Sweden as a country of first call or as a result of relocation by the United Nations. It’s possible as a refugee to get different kinds of support while in Sweden or on your way there.

Ways through which people move to Sweden

Like any country, there are so many ways through which people move to Sweden. Therefore, it’s an individual decision on which option best suits your case without complicating chances of being accepted to move.

The Swedish migration agency is the organization in charge of processing all forms of immigration to Sweden. According to the agency, there are three main ways that people can explore in order to move to Sweden.. These options include;

  1. Moving to Sweden with a job offer– people with exceptional skills and abilities move to Sweden every other year. Just like any other Nordic country, Sweden always finds itself not having enough workers to fill up certain specific job vacancies which leaves companies with no option but to import labour elsewhere. Some helpful information on how to move to Sweden as a worker are https://www.migrationsverket.se/.
  • Family Reunification in Sweden-So many people now living I Sweden are beneficiaries of the family reunification scheme. Family reunification applies where it can be established that you who is planning to move to Sweden has a close relationship with someone already living in Sweden. People who qualify for family reunification have to be one of the following: husband or wife, a common law spouse or a child (a minor).
  • Studies in Sweden-Sweden, like all the European countries have some of the best universities that specializes in research and development. Any ambitious student from abroad who wishes to be ahead in their respective fields can sign up for a bachelors, masters or PhD positions in any of the Swedish best universities. Anyone who meets the requirements for studies in Sweden automatically qualifies for a student residence permit.
  • Asylum and refugee-it may look awkward to classify asylum seeking and refugee as a way of migrating to Sweden but let’s face it, it’s the reality. Yes, it’s a forced migration in some way but somehow you find yourself having to live in Sweden for a while or even forever. This option of asylum and refugee in Sweden is let exclusively for individuals or groups of people who risk an imminent violation of their human rights without the possibility of local authorities stopping it. People trapped in war, socio-political persecution and such will likely use this option to get a safer haven in Sweden.
  • Au-pair-Au-pair is a scheme that allows young people from across the world to come over to Europe to linked families. Through this scheme, they come to Sweden included with the purpose of temporary residence as they learn culture and ways of the locals.
  • The Aupair scheme does not intend to make people get a permanent residence in any country. Even though this is the case, still so many people coming under the program end up getting engaged and married to Swedes. By virtue of marriage such people then qualify for long term residence.

First things to do once you arrive in Sweden

By this time, it safe to assume that any immigrant to Sweden know which category exactly they fall. So it becomes necessary to feel on top of the roof and shift to mastering all of the important steps involved. An immigrant in Sweden needs to every time appreciate that residence in the country is largely supported by the papers. The word “papers” is almost a cliché among immigrants anywhere because they provide a basis of stay in the country from time to time.

  • Getting a residence permit in Sweden under any of the five categories already listed above.
  • Registering residence in Swedish population register
  • Getting a Swedish identification card
  • Getting a home in Sweden
  • Opening a Swedish bank account
  • Finding a job or starting a business
  • Arranging daycare or school for your young ones
  • Starting Swedish language classes
  • Paying taxes in Sweden
  • Get a Swedish driving licence

Anyone who intends to move into Sweden through a legal way must follow all or most of these steps. As a matter of fact, some of the steps depend on the others. So, it is possible that such dependent steps can be automatically completed by the authorities without you having to do anything extra on your side.

An immigrant in Sweden who has been forced out by unfavourable situations such as war and turmoil will always get some form of assistance with the process. It is guaranteed that the Swedish Ministry of Integration and Migration in collaboration with the UNHCR will stand by a refugee every step of the way, providing all necessary humanitarian assistance.

Even with the assistance of the state and non-state agencies, an immigrant in Sweden should at least have a clue about what to do next. It makes more sense and becomes very helpful when a newcomer is already quickly coping with information about the new environment.

1.    Getting a residence permit in Sweden

Whether an asylum seeker, a student, refugee or any other category of immigrant to Sweden, having a residence permit is a coveted feat. Today, there are hundreds or even thousands of people un Sweden who have been there for quite some time but still don’t have residence permit. Instead, they keep hoping to regularise their residence and probably get a residence someday. This alone points to how important a residence permit is in Sweden.

Being a social democracy, Sweden does not just freely open its borders for people to come in and go out at will. At any one time; whether still in your home country or already in Sweden, you can only claim a longer residence by applying for residence permit and being accepted.

In the case of asylum seekers or refugees, the processing of residence permit can always be adjusted to meet the crisis situation. For instance, a Ukrainian who moves to Sweden because of war has no time to send in applications. In this case then such a person’s nationality only needs to be verified and the agencies concerned will activate the application process.

It’s important to ensure that at any one time, you don’t lose a status in Sweden because that puts you at odds with the law. Procedural stay, asylum, refugee, student, worker, researcher et cetera are all residence permit options. 

2.    Get an Identification card

Upon registration of residence in Sweden, the next important thing is to have a document that proves it. At all times a state officer, especially the security agents may stop you to prove you are legally in Sweden.

Whenever the authorities in Sweden ask to know you, you must produce an ID document. As is the rule at all times, anybody who has been granted a residence permit in Sweden on whatever grounds is issued with a residence permit card. The residence permit card is the everyday proof of legal residence in Sweden.

A residence permit card issued out to immigrants in Sweden has an electronic chip within it containing biometric records including fingerprints and face photo. It is advisable never to forget carrying your residence permit card with you at all times especially when visiting government agencies.

3.    Find a home in Sweden

You are already lucky to get a residence status in Sweden, it doesn’t matter whether as an asylum seeker or worker. The residence permit allows you to live in Sweden but does not necessarily guarantee you will be given a free house or something like that. Upon getting the residence permit, the focus then quickly shifts to where exactly to find an apartment or a home in Sweden

As a refugee in Sweden, it may be possible to initially get a paid for accommodation over some period of time. This accommodation could be a facility owned by the municipality, immigration authorities or just the state. The free accommodations in Sweden are mainly intended to hold individuals who arrive in the country without a possibility of getting an income or no pre-processed residence status.

Its poissble that a refugee makes own arrangments for accommodation in Sweden but more preferable to take one at a a reception unit provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.  The logic is simple, why pay for something you can get free of charge? And remember, it is not always given that you will pick up life very fast to earn own income.

It is possible that some immigrants, refugees included will prefer to make their own arrangents for accommodation in Sweden. Yes, its possible to be a refugee and still have the money to pay for your own space wherever in Sweden. In such a case where you decide to organize for own accommodation in Sweden, its important to know among other things that;

  • You will pay all the bills associated with your tenancy/ residence at your rented accommodation. No assistance will be extended your way in that regard whatsoever.
  • In case it becomes impossible to cope with the costs associated with staying in yourself arranged apartment, it is still okay to move to the reception unit houses.
  • Even when living in your own privately arranged accommodation in Sweden, you must be at all times be reachable whenever the Swedish Migration Agency needs you. So, the details of your accommodation must be as a necessity be known to the agency.

The situation is much easier and better if you take the option of living at the Swedish reception units. Of course the ease or convenience will depend on individual choices but some of the things that happen when you live at any of the units include;

  • The Immigration agency will themselves decide for you where in Sweden t stay. You therefore don’t have an individual preference to force them otherwise. The thing is that once you hand yourself over to be supported by the agency, it’s their terms that prevail. Assuredly, the treatment is humane but you will not be the one to call shots or give directions on what should be done, how and when.
  • It’s a requirement that when your asylum or refugee case is being considered, you will be relocated to a new facility. It’s a little disturbing to move up and down but the Swedish authorities try as much as possible not to be disturbing.

For ordinary immigrants such as students, researchers et cetera, planning on accommodation is key just as it is to refugees who decide to arrange for own apartments. You must know that the cost of accommodation in Sweden is high and will set you back a couple of bucks.

The issue of accommodation in Sweden may be even more complicated in bigger cities such as stockholm, gothenburg or malmö because the demand is high. you may just have the money to rent an apartment but wait for god knows how long before getting one.

For extra information about accommodation and housing in Sweden, turn to these useful links and be more informed.

 

4.     Getting a Job in Sweden

Irrespective of what brings you to Sweden or your status there, you will in one way or the other have to work. Sweden is a country where work is highly esteemed and people motivated to make riches from the sweat of their brawl. Whether you take a job as a researcher, shop attendant, service provider, that’s a job enough.

Anyone who has a legal residence in Sweden, including the recent refugees from Ukraine has a chance to work and earn a living. You only need to figure out which job best suits you, send out an application and if accepted, take it up. The employer will then direct you on whatever requirements must be met regarding tax payment.

To get a job in Sweden, you can turn to sites including:

  • careerbuilder.se.
  • jobb.blocket.se.
  • jobbland.se.
  • jobbmaskinen.se.
  • jobbsafari.se.
  • metrojobb.se.
  • monster.se.
  • stepstone.se

5.    Paying Taxes in Sweden

Anyone who earns an income in Sweden, whether a foreigner has a duty to pay taxes to Swedish tax agency. Unless in the rarest event of a  legally binding agreement that requires someone to pay taxes elsewhere, it must go to Sweden.

As a matter of fact, the Swedish government through its various agencies do the very best even in difficult situations to provide services for citizens and immigrants altogether. It is only moral and ethical that you support the government in raising taxes that will go into offering you good healthcare, proper roads and even taking care of other future refugees.

It is okay to register your tax information yourself but even better to just make a call to the Swedish Tax Agency and talk to a representative. When you provide the representative with your  registration details they, a tax profile will get set up for you.

Upon setting up a profile, a unique tax identity is assigned to you. This number is popularly known as  ‘personnummer’. It is this number that is attached t you and will always be used by your employers to pay out taxes to the tax agency on your behalf.

While in most cases the employers will always send taxes to the tax agency on your behalf before paying out salary, there are certain incomes you as a person must pay taxes on yourself. It remains your responsibility as a person to be tax compliant in Sweden so to avoid run ins with the agencies responsible for enforcement

6.     Having a bank account in Sweden

Bank account in Sweden is something that anyone cannot avoid, especially if the plan is to live in the country for a longer time. Generally, people with jobs in Sweden or any form of income in the country need to have a bank account there.

Buying of either goods or services in Sweden largely takes place using bank cards which is why you urgently need to have a bank account. It is even riskier carrying a lot of cash in Sweden, never makes any sense in a highly advanced country.

Make no mistake, no employer will agree to make salary payments in any other way than a registered bank account. Some people will try to cheat the system by avoiding making their financial activities traceable. Such monkey business may land you in deep trouble with the authorities.

For a smooth life in Sweden, with no hiccups, open a bank account, get issued with a bank card and be compliant at all times. It costs nothing worth mentioning to open a bank account. The only little amounts payable as a customer to any bank in Sweden is the periodic operation costs.

The most popular banks in Sweden where you can register a bank account and get superb services include;

  • Nordea Bank AB
  • Svenska Handelsbanken AB
  • Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken
  • Swedbank
  • Carnegie Investment Bank AB
  • Ikano Bank
  • Forex Bank AB
  • Skandiabanken
  • Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden)
  • Westra Wermlands Sparbank

The only important disclaimer to anyone wanting to open a bank account is the need to check one that has a best chance for serving own customer needs. As a matter of fact, you will never make a mistake by having a bank account in Sweden.

For easy and more convenient transactions through your bank account in Sweden, it makes much sense to download the the BankID app onto a smartphone. This App allows you access to the money in your bank account even outside the official bank opening hours.

7.    Get your children to start School in Sweden

As a Ukrainian family moving to Sweden as a result of the war, it is important that the children get to continue with their learning process. It is the same case with anybody from whichever part of the world who moves to Sweden with children. Child education is a key priority in Sweden and it can’t be taken lightly when a parent fails to get his child enrolled in a school.

The best way to proceed with getting your children to start going to school in Sweden is getting in touch with your local city council. The city council will do everything necessary in getting your children to start schooling.

8.    Learning Swedish

As a refugee or immigrant in Sweden, it’s important to learn Swedish. The power of language in integration can never be over emphasized. Its’ never amusing to explain your inability to speak Swedish every other time. Without being able to speak or even  understand Swedish, it becomes very uneasy to enjoy social gatherings.

Learning Swedish as a language will also broaden an individual’s chances of getting good jobs. There is some level of trust that comes so effortlessly when you are able to speak the local language. Don’t be cheated that being able to speak English will make your life entirely easy in Sweden, far from it. There is a general assumption across all the Scandinavian countries, Sweden included that everyone in the country has a reasonable level of language proficiency. To be ahead of everything, turn to online tutorials or mobile phone apps such as Duolingo to learn elementary Swedish.

As an immigrant to Sweden, whether from Ukraine or somewhere else, learning Swedish as a language will help you find your space within the scheme of things. Apart from the learning opportunities available online, it is also highly recommended that an immigrant signs up for the free Swedish courses arranged by the government. This is made available through the government programme Swedish for immigrants. 

9.    Get a Swedish driving licence

A drivers licence in Sweden is not a luxury document at all. It not only serves as a proof that you are able to drive a particular class of vehicles but also works as an identity document. With a Swedish driver’s licence, you will greatly increase your chances of getting a job as most of them will require you to drive out long distance and sometimes at odd times.

Assuming you already have a drivers licence issued in your home country, al you now need to do is change it to the Swedish one. The process of changing a foreign drivers licence to a Swedish one is reasonably easier than if someone has to start afresh. Check out if you are actually allowed to use your foreign drivers licence in Sweden. Even when you have a free pass to use your foreign drivers licence in Sweden, it’s a good idea to go ahead and familiarise yourself with the traffic rules so that the whole driving experience becomes less challenging.

Like any country, after some period, you will be required by law to shift your foreign drivers licence to a Swedish one. The Swedish Transport Administration is in charge of facilitating this change of drivers licence. Please contact their representatives for guidance on the way forward.

10. Getting a Quick Loan in Sweden

Loans in Sweden come in different forms but the key is that they help the borrower foot some bills or buy something and repay later.  Private loans are not so bad as long as they are used for their intended correct purposes. We will not venture into teaching financial discipline here but just let everyone know that there are various lenders in Sweden.

You can borrow from mobile phone lenders, banks and other smaller financial institutions. Each lender in Sweden has its own criteria for assessing whether someone qualifies for their loans. But the bottom line is that you must be legally residing in the country and have a verifiable source of income to pay off the loan.

Credit cards in Sweden is another smart way of borrowing especially for people who have constant incomes passing through their accounts. The only thing one needs to do is approach a credit card issuer, meet the set requirements be issued with a credit card. The credit card will have a set maximum borrowing limit and can be used  to pay at a shop, restaurant, cinema  and many more.

11. Internet and Mobile phone subscription

The internet and mobile phone subscription is an in house requirement for any household in Sweden. You will on a day to day basis wish to communicate with people back at home, those in Sweden or even watch your best programmes on TV. All these needs require internet as a common thing. You therefore need to check around and identify a perfect service provider that promises to give uninterrupted services at a cost effective price.

For borrowing and getting credit cards in Sweden, it would be great to turn to the following links.

  • swedbank.se
  • kreditkort.com
  • banknorwegian.se

Welcome to Sweden

No matter what brings you to Sweden, it’s always easy to put your mind together and have a full experience of the country. As a Ukrainian running away from the war and devastations that come with it, Sweden promises not to become another hell of experience whatsoever. The only responsibility is to do as the authorities direct, be a good immigrant and the experience will turn out being more than just fun.

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