In our line of business, we see a lot of transferees (i.e., the person who is moving to Sweden for work) who have been granted work permits for a longer period of time than their employment in Sweden lasted. Considering the hidden consequences of work permits being granted for longer than the employment lasts, we thought we’d address it here.
First of all, it is worth mentioning that these situations primarily occur in one of the following circumstances:
1. The transferee is an intra-company transfer sent to Sweden to work on a specific project for a limited amount of time. The project gets cut short - leaving the transferee with more time than expected left on the work permit.
2 The transferee is an intra-company transfer sent to Sweden to work on general assignments in the company’s Swedish office. The demand shifts and the transferee gets sent back to the original company to meet demands.
3 The transferee resigns or is otherwise relieved of his or her job duties without pay.
It is also worth mentioning that, surprisingly, there are no direct consequences for the employer if a work permit continues to be in effect after the Swedish employment terminates for any of the above reasons. There are no penalties or fines associated with allowing a transferee to remain on a work permit that lacks foundation as long as the facts upon which the permit was granted were true at the outset.
Many employers requests work permits that intentionally last a little longer than the expected employment duration, especially in circumstances described in (1) above. This allows the employer to move transferees back and forth between projects in different countries without having to apply for a new work permit every time, seemingly without repercussions.
Hence, the hidden consequences we initially mentioned don’t strike the employer per se, but rather has the potential to his the transferee hard. This is so because a non-EU citizen may apply for a work permit, together with his or her employer, for up to 48 months, granted in 2 year increments. After 48 months the transferee has two options: either apply for permanent residency by proving that the transferee has established a connection to the Swedish market, or return to his or her home country. Thus, if the transferee has had one foot in two countries for the past 48 months, or for any other of the previously stated reasons worked significantly less than 48 months, the Migration Agency will be unable to find an established connection to the Swedish market.
For the transferee, this means that the two options after 48 months quickly are reduced to just one – leave Sweden for good. For the employer, it could mean the loss of a highly valued employee who may not continue working for the employer’s Swedish office or clients. The solution, we suggest, is to apply for a work permit that lasts long enough to grant the employer some flexibility without depriving the transferee of the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.
A final word to the wise would be to promptly cancel any work permits where the requirements change and the transferee is no longer needed in Sweden during the work permit’s validity.