Sweden plans to toughen immigration rules

Residence to be conditional on command of the Swedish language and sufficient earnings

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Dénes Albert

Sweden’s Social Democrat-Green coalition plans to tighten immigration rules that, in the past 10 years, have allowed for the settlement of an estimated 400,000 non-EU nationals, news and opinion portal Mandiner writes. The current legislation, from 2016, was a temporary one in the wake of the 2015 European immigration wave and was only supposed to be valid until 2019; however, it was then extended because of a lack of political consensus.

According to the draft, in the future, immigrants will receive a three-year residence permit. Once this has expired, permanent residence will only be granted if they meet several requirements, such as command of the Swedish language and sufficient income.

Prior to the 2016 immigration law, refugees were granted permanent housing rights in Sweden, which is considered to be one of the most inclusive European states. In terms of population, Sweden received the most migrants in the European Union in 2015. At that time, 160,000 migrants came to the Scandinavian state, most of them from Syria. According to Swedish immigration authorities, the country of 10.3 million has granted asylum and family reunification to more than 400,000 people in the past decade.

Anti-immigration voices

In reaction to the gains of the anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats party, the other major Swedish parties, including the Social Democrats, have tightened immigration policy over the past five years, which has ultimately manifested itself in the withdrawal of permanent residence permits.

“With this draft, Sweden will no longer be as attractive a destination for asylum seekers as it was in 2014 and 2015,” Social Democrat Minister of Immigration Morgan Johansson said during the debate of the bill.

Johansson defended the bill on Thursday, saying it “provides a long-term settlement framework” and makes sure the principle of time-limited residence permits doesn’t have “disproportionate effects.” The extension of a temporary residence permit is possible for both children and adults, especially in “extremely painful” circumstances, under the title of “protection of humanity.”

One and a half years before the September 2022 parliamentary elections, the leader of the radical right-wing Swedish Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, attacked the provision for unaccompanied minors. According to the draft, the latter will be able to stay in Sweden until the end of their studies and will receive “humanitarian protection.”

The temporary legislation, last extended in 2019, will expire this summer. The new law should come into force in July if parliament approves it.

Another Scandinavian state, Denmark, has already announced further tightening this year to curb immigration. Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that her country’s goal is to have “zero immigration.” As she put it in the Danish parliament, “Danes want to stay Danes.”


Title image: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. (source: European Parliament)


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