Integration in Sweden

Last updated: 29 8 2018

This material is from the book About Sweden.

Integration is about feeling a sense of belonging in the wider community where you live. This means that everyone should feel that they are a part of Swedish society. Integration involves different groups in society meeting and interacting with each other.

In Sweden, the Swedish Government is responsible for drawing up guidelines for Swedish integration policy. The Swedish Government wants everyone to be a part of the community, regardless of where they were born and what ethnic background they have. Therefore the Government provides extra support to newly arrived throughout their first years in Sweden. The purpose of this is to provide a good start to those who are new to Sweden and give them a good chance of living independently.

Establishment of newly arrived refugees

There is special form of support that you are eligible for if you are over the age of 20 (but under 65), have arrived recently and been granted a residence permit as a refugee, quota refugee, person in need of protection, or if you are a close relative of someone in one of those categories. You can then be registered on the introduction programme and receive an introduction benefit. A recently arrived person is a refugee or immigrant who is new to Sweden.

At Arbetsförmedlingen, you can get help to find a job of your own. Photo: Johnér

Introduction programme

Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish Public Employment Service) is one of several agencies that help recently arrived refugees and immigrants get started in their new community. If you are among those eligible for the introduction programme, you will meet with an employment official from Arbetsförmedlingen to talk about what you need to do in order to start looking for work. You will be given a plan that includes various activities to help you on your way to getting a job. What these activities are will depend on your needs, but they must include Swedish for Immigrants (SFI), employment preparations (e.g. traineeships or validation of your education and work experience) and a civic orientation course intended to give you a fundamental understanding of Swedish society. The time you spend on these activities should be equivalent to a full-time job, which means 40 hours a week. Your time on the introduction programme should typically extend over 24 months. If you are on parental leave, you may be allowed to repeat what you miss, but not beyond 12 months.

The aim of the introduction programme is for you to learn Swedish and find a job as quickly as possible so that you are able to support yourself.

Introduction benefit

The introduction benefit is money you receive when you follow the plan in the introduction programme. The introduction benefit is the same for everyone, regardless of where you live. In order to receive the full benefit you have to carry out your planned activities full-time. If you have a job while you are on the introduction programme and you receive pay, your introduction benefit will be reduced by the same amount. If you are entitled to an introduction benefit you are also eligible for a housing benefit if you live alone in your own home. Under some circumstances, e.g. if you have children, you are also eligible for a supplementary benefit. In that case it is Försäkringskassan (the Swedish social insurance agency) that decides whether you get a supplementary benefit.

Leaving your country an moving to a new country

Leaving your country of origin and coming to a new country can be difficult and challenging. You may have experienced traumatic events and have lost your home, money, close friends and relatives in your homeland. Learning a new language, a new system and a new culture is challenging. It is common for the move to trigger a personal crisis. Some people start feeling bad when the receive a residence permit.

Professional support is available if you feel bad. Contact a primary care centre for more information. If you have an introduction plan, you can also speak to your introduction case officer at Arbetsförmedlingen in order to get more information about where you can get help.