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Foreign citizen – Exchange studies outside of Sweden

Are you a foreign citizen that wishes to study abroad on an exchange programme? Here you will find information on the conditions you could qualify for in order to have the right to student finance from CSN.

Right to student finance for exchange studies

Normally, only Swedish citizens can receive student finance for studies outside of Sweden, but in some cases foreign citizens can as well. First, you must satisfy the conditions necessary to be entitled to Swedish student finance. Read more about them here on the page.

You must also meet the other conditions

If CSN decides that you have a right to Swedish student finance for exchange studies, you must also meet the other criteria for receiving student finance. For example, the programme you are attending must meet our standards.

Permanent residence permit

You normally have the right to Swedish student finance for exchange studies if the Swedish Migration Board has granted you a permanent residence permit.

The right to student finance normally applies from the week the Migration Agency granted you the permit.

Permanent right of residence

You may also have a right to Swedish student finance if you have permanent right of residence in Sweden. The reason is that you can be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law.

EU/EEA citizen

As an EU/EEA citizen, you normally have permanent right of residence when you have lived legally in Sweden for at least 5 years without interruption.

Family member of an EU/EEA citizen

If you are a family member of an EU/EEA citizen and you have lived together in Sweden for at least 5 years without interruption you normally have permanent right of residence.

This is not applicable if your family member is a Swedish or Swiss citizen.

Permanent right of residence for British citizens and their family members

Due to Brexit, there are different rules regarding permanent right of residence for British citizens and their family members depending on when you started living in Sweden.

If you are a British citizen and have been living in Sweden since before 1 January 2021, you will normally have permanent right of residence after you have been living here without interruption for at least 5 years.

You who are a family member of a British citizen will normally have permanent right of residence after you and your family member have lived together in Sweden for at least 5 years without interruption, if you were both residents here before 1 January 2021.

If you started living in Sweden after 31 December 2020, you cannot have permanent right of residence.

Early permanent right of residence for persons working or who have worked in Sweden, and their family members

In some cases, you who are a citizen of an EU/EES country may be granted early permanent right of residence if you are or have been employed or self-employed. In this case, one of the following must also apply to you:

  • You have retired after working in Sweden for the past year. You have lived here for at least an additional 3 years without interruption.
  • You have worked in Sweden but are no longer able to because you have sustained a permanent disability that prevents you from working. You have lived here for at least an additional 2 years without interruption.
  • You have worked in Sweden but can no longer do so due to an occupational injury that entitles compensation.
  • You have lived and worked in Sweden for at least 3 years and still live here currently, but you are employed in another EU/EEA country.

Family member of someone who is working or has worked in Sweden

You may also obtain an early permanent right of residence if you are a family member of a person who meets one of the aforementioned requirements. You may also obtain a right of residence if you are the relative of an EU/EEA citizen who passed away while working in Sweden. That person must have resided in Sweden for the last 2 years, or died due to an injury or illness caused by their employment.

Early permanent right of residence for British citizens and their family members

If you are a British citizen and have lived in Sweden since before 1 January 2021, you may be granted early permanent right of residence in some cases. This applies if you are or have been employed or self-employed. One of the following must also apply to you:

  • You have retired after working in Sweden for the past year. You have lived here for at least an additional 3 years without interruption.
  • You have worked in Sweden but are no longer able to because you have sustained a permanent disability that prevents you from working. You have lived here for at least an additional 2 years without interruption.
  • You have worked in Sweden but can no longer do so due to an occupational injury that entitles compensation.
  • You have lived and worked in Sweden for at least 3 years and still live here currently, but you are employed in another EU/EEA country.

As a family member to a British citizen, you can also have early permanent right of residence if you have lived together in Sweden since before 1 January 2021 and your family member meets any of the above conditions.

You can also have early permanent right of residence if the British citizen you are related to died while working in Sweden. He or she must then have lived in Sweden for the past 2 years, or died due to an injury or illness that was due to work.

Residence permit based on family ties

If you have been granted a residence permit by the Swedish Migration Agency based on a family tie to somebody in Sweden, you may in certain cases have a right to Swedish student finance through a law change. The law change will take effect on 20 July 2021.

If you have a time-limited permit as a family member of a person who has a work permit, you are normally not entitled to student finance. That kind of permit is based on work and not on family ties.

Residence permit under the new upper secondary school law, or the previous temporary law

You may have a right to Swedish student finance if you have a residence permit under the new upper secondary school law.

You may also have a right to student finance if you have a permit under the previous temporary law.

If your residence permit has expired

If your residence permit has expired, you may still be entitled to student finance. This applies if you have applied for an extension of your residence permit before your temporary permit expired. Therefore, remember to apply for an extension with the Swedish Migration Agency in time!

It is also required that your application for an extension

  • has the same basis as before, or
  • is for a residence permit under the new upper secondary school law.

Your previous residence permit must have been one that could entitle you to student finance.

Refugee or family member to a refugee

If the Swedish Migration Agency has decided that you are a refugee or in need of subsidiary protection, you are normally entitled to Swedish student finance. You may also be entitled to student finance if you have been granted a residence permit due to particularly distressing circumstances. If you are a family member of such a person, you may also be entitled to student finance.

Your residence permit can be either permanent or temporary

Your residence permit must be valid, but it makes no difference if it is permanent or temporary. The right to student finance normally applies from the week the Swedish Migration Agency granted you the permit.

If your residence permit has expired

If your residence permit has expired, you may still be entitled to student finance. This applies if you have applied for an extension of your residence permit before your temporary permit expired. Therefore, remember to apply for an extension with the Swedish Migration Agency in time!

It is also required that your application for an extension

  • has the same basis as before, or
  • is for a residence permit under the new upper secondary school law.

Your previous residence permit must have been one that could entitle you to student finance.

Special reasons

There are special reasons that may give you the right to Swedish student finance.

Residence permits CSN equate with being a refugee

If the Swedish Migration Agency has assessed that you are a refugee or in need of protection, you are normally entitled to Swedish student finance. You may also be entitled to student finance if you have been granted a residence permit due to particularly distressing circumstances. If you are a family member of such a person, you may also be entitled to student finance.

Children with Swedish citizen

If you have children with a Swedish citizen and you live together in Sweden, you may have a right to Swedish student finance. You must also have a residence permit, residence status or right of residence in Sweden. If your residence permit is no longer valid, you may still be entitled to student finance if you have applied for an extended permit before the old one expired.

If you are under the age of 20

If you are under the age of 20, you may be entitled to student finance if you satisfy one of the following conditions:

  • You and your parent have right of residence, residence status or a residence permit based on a family relationship with a person who lives in Sweden.
  • You have a parent who is a Swedish citizen and you have right of residence, residence status or a residence permit based on your familial relationship to this parent.
  • A Swedish authority have placed you in a family care home or institution.
  • You have a custodial guardian decided by a Swedish authority.

Right of residence and a lasting connection

Normally, you may have the right to Swedish student finance if you have a specific connection to Sweden. We refer to this as a lasting connection. You may have the right to student finance if you fulfil the following qualifications:

  1. You have right of residence as you are an EU/EEA citizen or a family member of such a person.
  2. You have a lasting connection to Sweden.
  3. You live in Sweden.

What is a lasting connection?

You can have a lasting connection to Sweden in different ways, for example; because you reside and are employed here, are married here, or were under the age of 20 when you moved here.

You have worked in Sweden for at least 2 years

You must have been residing and employed in Sweden for at least 2 years. You must have held at least a half time employment (50 per cent).

There are other types of occupations, besides employment in exchange for salary, that also count as an employment. These also count:

  • period during which you have been registered as unemployed with a Swedish employment service
  • employment training or other employment policy measure
  • municipal adult education in Swedish for immigrants (sfi)
  • an education in Swedish at primary and lower-secondary school level at the highest, at least half time
  • time during which you have been receiving sickness benefit, activity compensation, or similar
  • care of your own children under the age of 10
  • fulltime care of a close relative.
An EU/EEA citizen that is married or cohabiting in Sweden

If you are an EU/EEA citizen and married or cohabiting in Sweden, you may be entitled to student finance. You may if you fulfil one of the following requirements:

  • You are married or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen and you have lived together in Sweden for at least two years.
  • You are married to or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen and you have lived together for at least four years, of which at least one year was in Sweden.
  • You are married to or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen with whom you have children and you have lived together in Sweden for at least one year.
  • You are married to or cohabiting with another foreign citizen and you have lived together in Sweden for at least two years. Your partner must also satisfy the conditions in order to be entitled to student finance. They must either possess a permanent residence permit or fulfil the permanent affiliation or special reasons conditions. Such a reason could be, for example; that the person is a refugee.

What counts as a cohabiting partner?

A cohabiting partner is someone you live with in marital relationships. If it is two friends living together, that is not considered cohabiting.

Married or cohabiting with an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen in Sweden for at least 2 years

You are married to or cohabiting with an EU/EEA citizen and you have lived together in Sweden for at least 2 years.

Your partner must also satisfy the conditions in order to be entitled to student finance. They must either possess a permanent residence permit or fulfil the permanent affiliation or special reasons conditions.

What counts as a cohabiting partner?

A cohabiting partner is someone you live with in marital relationships. If it is two friends living together, that is not considered cohabiting.

You were under 20 years of age when you came to Sweden

You were under the age of 20 when you moved to Sweden with your parent and you both have right of residence as family members to an EU/EEA citizen. Your parent resides and is employed here.

What applies for British citizens and their family members?

To be entitled to student finance through a lasting connection as a British citizen you must, after 31 December 2020, be a family member of a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. It is not enough that the Swedish Migration Agency has granted you residence status. Residence status is not the correct type of right of residence for you to have a lasting connection to Sweden.

You or your family member is working in Sweden (EU law)

You may be entitled to student finance if you or a family member is employed in Sweden. The conditions that must be fulfilled depend on the country that you or your family member are citizens of, amongst other things.

Is employed in Sweden and a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland

You who are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland may be entitled to Swedish student finance if you work or have your own company in Sweden and continue working during your studies. In order for this to qualify, you must work a sufficient amount. You can then be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law.

Has a family member who is working in Sweden

You may have the right to Swedish student finance if you are the relative of a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland who is employed or operating a business in Sweden. In order for this to qualify, your family member needs to work a sufficient amount. You can then be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law.

Family of a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland

You are considered a family member if you are the partner, child or stepchild under the age of 21, to an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen. In some cases, you may also be considered a child even if you are older than 21 if you can prove that you are financially dependent on your parent. This does not normally apply if your family member is a Swedish citizen.

You can also be counted as a family member if you are the parent of an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen who is employed or operating a business in Sweden. In that case, you need to be able to prove that you are financially dependent on your child.

Family member of a British citizen

If you are a family member of a British citizen and he or she was working in Sweden before 1 January 2021, you can be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law and be entitled to student finance. Your family member must continue to work during your studies, and he or she must work a sufficient amount. If your family member has stopped working, he or she can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden if he or she meets certain conditions.

Family member of a Swedish citizen

If your family member is a Swedish citizen and you have also had a relationship in another EU/EEA country, you may in some cases be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law after moving to Sweden.

Your family member must be employed or run a business in Sweden after living abroad. They must also work a sufficient amount during your studies.

If your family member has stopped working, he or she can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden if he or she meets certain conditions.

Family member of a Swedish citizen who has lived in the UK

If your family member is a Swedish citizen and you had a relationship in the UK, you may be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law in certain cases. Your family member must have returned to Sweden before 1 January 2021 and also be employed or run a business in Sweden after returning here. They must also work a sufficient amount.

If your family member has stopped working, he or she can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden if he or she meets certain conditions.

Child of a Turkish citizen

If you are a Turkish citizen and have a Turkish parent or stepparent who is working in Sweden, you may be entitled to Swedish student finance. This is the case if your parent or stepparent is working or running his or her own company in Sweden. Your parent or stepparent needs to work at least 10 hours a week during your study period. Both of you must have residence permits, and you must have been living together in Sweden.

British citizen working in Sweden

If you are a British citizen and already worked in Sweden before 1 January 2021, you may in certain cases be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law and therefore be entitled to student finance. You also need to work at least 10 hours a week during your study period. If you have stopped working, you can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden if you meet certain conditions.

What counts as employment or operating a business?

In order to be considered an employee or self-employed, you or your family member must meet these criteria.

This count as employment

You or your family member can be considered an employee in Sweden if you meet these conditions:

  • You or they are working to a sufficient extent. This normally means at least 10 hours per week with a minimum employment period of 10 weeks.
  • You or they receive wages or other compensation for their work.
This count as self-employment

You or your family member can be counted as self-employed in Sweden if you meet these conditions:

  • You or they are working to a sufficient extent for their company. This normally means at least 10 hours per week with a minimum employment period of 10 weeks. You or they also need to have sufficient turnover in the company and a certain level of income or profit.
  • You or they have registered their company with the Swedish Tax Agency and have an F-tax certificate.

If you or your family member have stopped working

If you have stopped working, you can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden. This also applies to your family member. You or they must meet one of these conditions:

You or your family member are getting further training

You are going to further educate yourself within your professional field and the course content is connected to your work in Sweden.

The time since they stopped working may not be excessively long.

The same conditions apply to your family member.

Further training within a vocation includes, for example

  • a teacher getting further training in pedagogy
  • a musician studying at a music academy
  • an assistant nurse training to be a nurse.
You or your family member get ill or injured

You or your family member are temporarily unable to work because of illness or an accident. You need to be able to prove this with a medical certificate or a certificate for sickness allowance from Försäkringskassan.

You or your family member have been given notice

You or your relative have been dismissed from your employment and registered as a jobseeker with a Swedish employment agency. If you or they have been employed in Sweden for less than one year, you can be considered an employee for six months after leaving the employment.

British citizen working in Sweden (EU law)

If you are a British citizen and already worked in Sweden before 1 January 2021, you may in certain cases be treated as a Swedish citizen under EU law and therefore be entitled to student finance. You also need to work at least 10 hours a week during your study period. If you have stopped working, you can still be considered an employee or self-employed person in Sweden if you meet certain conditions.

Long-term resident status

You may be entitled to student finance if the Swedish Migration Agency has granted you a long-term resident status in Sweden. That is also the case if you have a long-term resident status in another EU country, and therefore received a residence permit in Sweden.

Icon for updated Updated: 2021-07-20