Work, internships & voluntering

work for asylum seekers

Keeping yourself occupied while waiting for a decision from the Swedish Migration Agency is not just a way to contribute to the Swedish society, it’s also good for your well being. Working, doing an internship or engaging in volunteer activities will increase your knowledge of Sweden and give you opportunities to practice your Swedish.

There are three options for you who wish to fill your time:

  • Work (if you have AT-UND permission)
  • Internship (called praktik in Swedish)
  • Volunteering

Who is allowed to work in Sweden?

Not all asylum seekers in Sweden are allowed to work in Sweden. You are – as an asylum seeker in Sweden – allowed to work if you have an AT-UND certificate. However, your right to work in Sweden should be stated in your LMA-card.

You are generally entitled to an AT-UND certificate if:

  • your application is being considered in Sweden,
  • you help prove your identity,
  • your application is legitimate,
More on working in Sweden

What you should know about working in Sweden as an asylum seeker

  • Your daily grant (see below) will decrease when you start working in Sweden and might be withdrawn completely.
  • You need to find a working position on your own. Learn more here.
  • You don’t have the same work rights as other workers in Sweden. You are, for instance, not entitled to sick grant if you become injured or ill. You will instead of the sick grant get your daily grant that you had before you started working back. You are, however free to join a union if you want. Joining the union is something we recommend: as the union can offer guidance and support in case you need it.

Apply for a co-ordination number and A-tax document

Having a so-called A-tax document might ease your job search.  You can apply for a co-ordination number (called samordningsnummer in Swedish) once you get your LMA-card. You apply by registering with the Swedish Public Employment Service – Arbetsförmedlingen. A co-ordination number works as a temporary personal number and will enable you to pay taxes in Sweden.

Don’t accept “cash-in-hand” work

You might be offered a “cash-in-hand” work (also called svartjobb in Swedish). This means that you will work without a signed contract that clarifies your rights. We strongly recommend you do not accept a “cash-in-hand” job offer. Firstly, because it is illegal to work “cash-in-hand”, secondly because you have nothing to legally fall back on if any problems would occur (concerning e.g. payment or working hours). Last, but not least: working cash-in-hand means that you pay no taxes on your income, which means that others will pay for the social benefits you may enjoy.

Placements & internships

Finding a job position might be difficult and not everyone is granted an AT-UND certificate. One option is to do an internship – called praktik in Swedish at a company or organisation. This won’t secure you an income but it does have many other benefits:

  1. It keeps you busy. Many experience the waiting as very challenging. Occupying yourself and socialising is a good way to overcome this challenge.
  2. Gives you work experience and shows that you are eager to make your way in Sweden.
  3. Good opportunity to practise Swedish and get to know Swedes in their day-to-day routine.

What you should know about internships 

  • It is up to you to find a company or organisation where you can do your work practise – praktik.
  • The Migration Agency must approve the workplace and sign an agreement with the employer. This, so that you can receive advice and support but also make sure you are insured if anything happens to you at the workplace.

Read more here (information in English). Or watch this short movie about your work and placement rights, provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.

Note that you can watch the video in 8 different languages.

Volunteering

Another option is to engage in volunteer work. The following organisations and websites might be interesting for you:

  • Volontärbyrån (a website that helps non-profit organisations find people who want to engage themselves in volunteer work.)
  • The Swedish Red Cross – Röda korset (is present on 80% of the refugee units in Sweden. Contact them directly to find out more about volunteer options.)

Financial support

You are, as an asylum seeker, entitled to a daily allowance if you have not brought any money or are able to support yourself in another way (e.g. thru work). The daily allowance is low considering the prices in Sweden. The allowance is just intended to cover your most important expenses.

The sum you get varies a bit, depending on your personal situation. Learn more at the Swedish Migrations Agency´s website. The information is mainly in Swedish, so we recommend you use the Google-Translate service to translate the information into your language.

Missing something? Or does something feel unclear? Contact us and help us improve.

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