Family Reunification in Sweden: Where to Start 2024



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While the technology of today allows us to keep in touch more easily than ever before, nothing replaces the warmth and comfort of being in the same physical space with your family. The good news is that Sweden offers various ways to make this happen through family reunification policies. This article aims to be your comprehensive guide, simplifying each step and helping you navigate through the legal pathways that could lead to a family reunion in the heart of Sweden.

Let’s delve into the specifics and unravel the process of family reunification in Sweden. Together, we’ll take each step carefully, ensuring you have the information you need to make your dream of family reunification a reality.


  • Family reunification in Sweden involves various steps, starting with understanding eligibility criteria.
  • Multiple types of visas are available, depending on your family circumstances.
  • The application process includes forms, fees, and possibly an interview and biometric data collection.
  • Status updates and the final decision often come via online portals or written notices.
  • Numerous resources, including government websites and community organizations, can offer additional support throughout the journey.

Basic Eligibility Criteria

The First Step: Understanding Your Role as the Sponsor

When considering family reunification, you take on the role of the sponsor. This means it’s your responsibility to meet certain conditions to facilitate the move for your family. Don’t let this overwhelm you; think of it as the initial threshold you must pass to bring your loved ones closer. You must either have a permanent residence permit, be a long-term EU resident, or be a Swedish citizen. If you’re unsure about your immigration status, consult official Swedish immigration sources or seek professional advice to clarify your situation.

Who Can You Bring?

In terms of family members, not everyone in your family tree would be eligible to join you. As a sponsor, you can typically apply for reunification with a legally recognized spouse or cohabiting partner and your children under the age of 18. Special circumstances may also allow for parents or other family members to join you, but these are generally more restricted. Knowing exactly who you can bring will save you time and emotional energy in the long run.

Financial Independence: A Key Requirement

Another vital element to consider is your financial ability to support your family. In most cases, you will need to show proof that you have adequate income and a suitable living space for your family members. The reason for this is simple: it ensures that you can adequately provide for your loved ones, offering them stability and a quality life in Sweden. However, don’t be daunted if you’re unsure about your financial situation; many resources can guide you on how to meet these requirements.

Relationship StatusMust be a spouse, registered partner, or minor dependent.
Financial StabilityApplicant in Sweden must meet certain income and housing criteria.
Valid PassportFamily members need valid passports.
Proof of RelationshipRequires official documents like marriage or birth certificates.
Health InsuranceFamily members need comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Types of Visas for Family Members

The next step is to identify which type of visa is most appropriate for your family members. The notion of selecting a visa type can seem daunting, but rest assured; each visa category is designed to cater to specific family situations. By choosing the right one, you’re laying down a strong foundation for your family’s future in Sweden.

Residence Permits for Spouse or Cohabiting Partner

If you’re hoping to bring your spouse or a cohabiting partner to Sweden, they will most likely need to apply for a residence permit based on family ties.

This permit often requires evidence of your relationship—marriage certificates for spouses or proof of cohabitation for partners, for example. In addition, the applicant will likely need to demonstrate some level of language ability, although the requirements can vary.

Visas for Children Under 18

Children under the age of 18 usually have a more straightforward path for reunification. A residence permit is typically issued based on their dependence on you, the sponsor.

Required documents often include birth certificates and, in some instances, proof of custody. It’s crucial to begin this process while the child is still under 18 to ensure they qualify under this specific category.

Visas for Parents and Other Relatives: An Overview

Bringing parents or other relatives to Sweden is generally more complicated and subjected to stricter requirements. Such applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and usually require strong evidence of dependency, both financial and emotional, on the sponsor living in Sweden.

Additional Requirements and Exceptions

While the above categories cover the majority of family reunification cases, there may be special circumstances or exceptions that apply to your situation. For instance, different rules could apply if you are a refugee or if you’re bringing a family member who needs special care. Always remember to consult up-to-date guidelines or seek professional advice to ensure that you are on the right track.

Related: Cost of Living in Sweden: A Practical Overview for 2024

Family Reunification in Sweden: The Application Process

Once you’ve determined the type of visa that suits your family situation, you’ll have to complete the application process. While it may seem like a maze of forms and documents, think of it as the bridge you’re building for your family to join you. With each piece of paper, you’re a step closer to making your dream of family reunification a reality. Preparation is your best friend at this stage.

Gathering Essential Documents

One of the first things you’ll need to do is gather all required documents. These can vary based on the visa type but generally include:

  • Proof of identity
  • Evidence of relationship
  • Language proficiency tests

It’s crucial to have these documents translated into Swedish or English, if they’re in another language, and to verify them properly for authenticity.

Application Fees: The Practical Side of Dreams

Family reunification is a significant emotional undertaking, but it also comes with its practical aspects, like application fees. These fees are non-refundable and must usually be paid online at the time of application. The exact amount can vary based on the type of application and the number of family members you’re sponsoring. This step is more than just a bureaucratic requirement; it’s the financial cornerstone that supports your family’s future in Sweden.

Online Application vs In-person Submission: The Routes to Choose From

In today’s digital age, you’re often able to submit your application online, which is particularly convenient if you’re far away from a Swedish consulate or embassy. However, in some instances, an in-person submission might be required. It’s crucial to find out which method is applicable to your situation to plan accordingly. Whether you click a button or hand over a sheaf of papers, that moment is a significant milestone on your reunification journey.

The Waiting Game: Timeline and What to Expect

Once you’ve submitted the application and all accompanying documents, it’s time to wait. This period can vary from a few months to a year or more, depending on various factors like application volume and the complexity of your case. The wait can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also an opportunity to prepare for your family’s arrival. This could be an ideal time to explore housing options or schools for your children, for example.

Interview and Biometrics

After the application submission, there’s a chance that you or your family members will be called in for an interview. If the idea of an official interview makes you a bit uneasy, that’s perfectly natural. However, try to see this not as an interrogation but as a valuable step to validate your application’s integrity.

The questions will likely revolve around your relationships, living conditions, and intentions for moving to Sweden. Preparation and honesty are your best allies in this step, so go in confidently, knowing that you’re striving for something worthwhile—your family’s unity.

The interview itself is often conducted at a Swedish embassy or consulate and could be a crucial deciding factor in your application. You may be asked to describe your relationship history, employment situation, and other personal details that lend credibility to your application.

Don’t be alarmed; these questions are standard procedure and are designed to protect the integrity of the family reunification process. In fact, the better prepared you are, the smoother the process will go. This is your opportunity to show that your application is genuine and well-founded.

Biometrics: Fingerprints and Photographs

In addition to the interview, you’ll also be required to provide biometric data, which includes fingerprints and photographs. This step usually happens during the same visit as the interview. If you’re wary of this step, know that the purpose is to verify identity and maintain accurate records, not to intrude into your personal life. You’re not the only one to go through this; it’s a routine part of many visa processes worldwide.

The Timeline: How Long Will It Take?

The time frame between your application submission and the interview can vary greatly, but it’s usually a couple of months. Biometric data collection typically takes place promptly after the interview. These steps, combined with the initial application waiting period, may feel like they stretch on, but every passing day is one day closer to having your family with you.

Status Updates and Decision

After completing the interview and biometrics, there comes a period that many find the most challenging—the waiting game for the decision. Silence from authorities during this time can trigger a whirlwind of thoughts and concerns. It’s a waiting room filled with both anticipation and anxiety, and that’s completely understandable. You’ve already invested a great deal of time, emotion, and resources, and it’s only human to be eager for news.

One way to assuage the tension of waiting is by keeping yourself updated. Many applications can be tracked through online systems that provide status updates. While these updates might not give you detailed insights into the processing stages, they can confirm that your application is progressing through the system. The peace of mind that comes from knowing things are moving—no matter how slowly—can be immeasurably comforting.

Receiving the Decision: The Moment of Truth

Finally, after months of preparation, submissions, and anxious waiting, you will receive the decision. This typically comes in written form, often accessible through the same online portals where you initially submitted your application. Some might also receive an email notification or a letter in the mail. It’s a moment filled with a multitude of emotions, from apprehension as you open the message to, hopefully, jubilation at the good news it contains.

Understanding the Outcome: Approval or Rejection

If your application is approved, congratulations! It’s a monumental achievement and a testament to your hard work and dedication. You will then proceed to the next steps, like planning the move, finding a place to live, and making the necessary arrangements for your family’s arrival in Sweden.

If, however, you receive a negative decision, it’s natural to feel disheartened. But it’s crucial to remember that a rejection is not the end of the road. Many decisions can be appealed, and often there are specific reasons for the denial that can be addressed in a subsequent application.

Living in Sweden After Approval

The long-awaited day has finally arrived! Your family members are here, stepping into a new chapter of their lives in Sweden. While it’s a time of immense joy and relief, it’s also the beginning of a new journey—acclimating to Swedish society. The challenges ahead are different but equally important. After months, possibly years, of preparation and waiting, it’s time to focus on building a life together in your new home.

Making a House a Home: Settling In

The first few weeks will be filled with a range of activities—finding schools for the kids, setting up a Swedish bank account, and maybe even looking for employment opportunities for your spouse or other family members.

While these tasks are essential, don’t overlook the emotional side of things. Transitioning to a new country can be overwhelming, and it’s crucial to offer emotional support to each other as everyone adjusts to their new surroundings.

Healthcare and Social Services: Safety Nets for Your Family

Sweden offers a robust healthcare system and a range of social services designed to make life comfortable and secure. Make sure to register your family members with the local healthcare services and inform yourself about the social benefits you might be entitled to. This isn’t just a bureaucratic step; it’s a way to ensure that your family’s well-being is safeguarded.

Language and Culture: Bridging the Gap

While you might have managed to navigate life in Sweden without being fluent in Swedish, it will be beneficial for your family members to learn the language and integrate into the local culture. Sweden offers various language courses for new residents, some of which are subsidized or even free. Embracing the culture and language is not just about making daily life more manageable; it’s also a way to enrich your family’s life, opening doors to new friendships and opportunities.

A Community of Support: Networking and Social Connections

Last but not least, try to build a network of support by connecting with other families who’ve been through the same process. Whether it’s a formal support group or a casual gathering, these connections can offer invaluable advice and companionship. They serve as a reminder that you’re not alone in this journey, providing both practical tips and emotional support.

Related: Child Benefit in Sweden 2024: Everything You Need To Know

Additional Resources

Sweden’s Migration Agency and other governmental bodies offer extensive online resources that can clarify everything from visa requirements to social services. Their websites are treasure troves of accurate, up-to-date information. Relying on official channels ensures that you’re receiving accurate advice, which can be especially comforting when you’re navigating a complex system.

In some cases, you might find it beneficial to consult with professionals who specialize in Swedish immigration laws. Whether you’re facing a specific legal hurdle or simply need someone to double-check your application, a qualified advisor can offer tailored guidance. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re on the right track, supported by experts in the field.

There are numerous non-governmental organizations in Sweden that aim to assist immigrants in various capacities. Whether you’re looking for language classes, employment support, or just a welcoming community, these organizations offer services that can make your family’s transition smoother and more enjoyable.


Sofia is our Relocation Expert, who brings first-hand experience in moving to Sweden from abroad. She moved to Sweden over a decade ago and navigated the complexities of relocation herself.

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