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Svenska för invandrare, SFI

Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) is an educational program for Newbies, where you learn Swedish and about the Swedish society. The concept is simple – free Swedish courses, all over the country, for all newbies (over 16) who legally reside in Sweden and who lack knowledge in the Swedish language.

Note: that SFI is free of charge but it doesn’t make your eligible for student aid from CSN.

Good to know about SFI

Swedish for immigrants was introduced in Sweden in the mid-sixties and has approximately 100 000 students annually. SFI has however been struggling with their learning approach. Some Newbies find the tempo too slow while others find it to fast. The quality of the teaching can also vary widely between the SFI schools. It is, however worth a try. You get a teacher, classmates, a learning structure and last but not least; it is free!

Frequently asked questions about Swedish for immigrants

We have received many questions about SFI and here we answer the most common ones. Feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

1. Which are the requirements for participating in SFI?

You must be:

  • over 16 years old
  • reside legally in Sweden (which means that you need to be registered with the Swedish tax Agency (Skatteverket) and have a personal number (personnummer). It is in some cases possible to study SFI with a co-ordination number – a so called samordningsnummer (see below, question 7 & 8).
  • lack knowledge in the Swedish language (but it is ok to have some basic Swedish skills).

2. Is SFI really free and how can that be?

Yes, Swedish for immigrants is free of charge for Newbies. Your municipality and in the end the state and everyone who pays taxes in Sweden will pay for the expenses related to your studies. However, the actual teaching is conducted by municipal and private schools.

3. Am I eligible for student aid while coursing SFI? And if not, how shall I pay my bills while studying Swedish?

No, you are not eligible for student financial aid from CSN while taking SFI. However you can combine your SFI studies with internships, jobs or studies if you wish to.

Note: you will be eligible for student aid if you wish to continue your studies at Swedish as a second language, SAS.

4. How do I apply for SFI?

You apply to SFI by contacting the adult education department at your municipality. You can also contact the private SFI provider in your municipality. They will help you with the application process and you’ll also be offered to do a language level test if you aren’t starting from scratch. 

5. What do I learn at SFI?

SFI provides you with basic knowledge of Swedish so that you can communicate in both oral and written form. The SFI training shall also provide you with an introduction to Swedish society.

SFI is open for all Newbies, regardless of educational background.

You can proceed your Swedish learning process by taking the Swedish as a Second Language one your finished the third and last SFI course.

6. What SFI course should I start with?

You are recommended to make a level test at the adult education centre in your municipality before you start your studies (unless you start from scratch). This test will show what Swedish level you are at. Note, that the SFI teaching is divided into three different levels:

Level 1 is for people who lack greater educational background (people who didn’t attend primary school and/or need to learn the Swedish alphabet. This level proceeds in a slower pace so that everyone can keep up with the course work.

Level 2 and 3 are for people who have knowledge equivalent to primary school from their home country. These steps go a little faster and do therefore require a certain experience with the school environment. After completing Step 3, you can proceed to Swedish as a second language, SAS.

7. Is it possible to study SFI with a co-ordination number, a so-called samordningsnummer?

EU citizens with a co-ordination number (called samordningsnummer in Swedish) are since 2015 entitled to study SFI in Sweden. However, not all municipalities are aware of this and might still ask you for a Swedish personal number. The possibility to study SFI with a co-ordination number is (as far as we know) limited to EU citizens.

8. What is a co-ordination number, a so-called samordningsnummer and how do I get one?

The process of getting a Swedish personal number might take a while (because of several reasons). One option is to apply for a temporary co-ordination number (called samordningsnummer in Swedish). You apply for a samordningsnummer by registering with the Swedish Employment Service – Arbetsförmedlingen.

Note, not all  staff at the Swedish Employment Service – Arbetsförmedlingen are aware of the proceedings concerning samordningsnummer and might refer you to the Swedish Tax Agency. However, you cannot apply for a samordningsnummer by yourself at the Swedish Tax Agency and it is the task of the Employment Service to apply for a co-ordination number for you.

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