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MIGRATIONSVERKET

Waiting times for Swedish citizenship rise to over three years for the first time

Waiting times for Swedish citizenship applications surpassed three years for the first time in February, according to Migration Agency data.

Waiting times for Swedish citizenship rise to over three years for the first time
The waiting time for a Swedish citizenship application has just risen to 37 months. File photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

The waiting time for decisions on citizenship cases went up from 36 to 37 months, which is the longest waiting time ever, a Migration Agency press officer confirmed to The Local.

This does not mean that applications submitted today will necessarily receive a decision within that time, nor is it a guarantee that no applicants will have to wait for a longer time.

In fact, four cases still open today pre-date 2015.

The average processing time for citizenship applications was 230 days in 2018, 185 in 2017, 176 in 2016, and 177 in 2015. But by July 2019, it had risen to 292 days and has been continuing to increase since then.

The number of people becoming Swedish citizens has soared over the past decade. In 2010, a total of 28,100 people were granted citizenship, while last year almost 75,000 people became Swedish.

As well as an increase in applications, the long waiting times for citizenship decisions are partly due to the increased workload for the Migration Agency caused by the high numbers of asylum seeker arrivals in 2015.

The agency is still working to clear a backlog of cases, with thousands of people currently awaiting decisions on work permits and citizenship applications, among other things.

But at the same time, the number of jobs have been cut. Today there are around 5,900 employees, down from 8,400 which was the size the agency grew to between 2015-2016 in order to cope with an increased workload as a large number of people claimed asylum in Sweden.

The Swedish government has warned that the number of post-Brexit residence status applications expected from British citizens in 2021 may affect waiting times in general. However the Migration Agency press officer told The Local that they were expecting a reduction in waiting times for citizenship over the course of 2020.

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SWEDISH CITIZENSHIP

EXPLAINED: How are Sweden’s cities celebrating new citizens this year?

After two years of virtual celebrations, this year Sweden's cities will once again celebrate the new citizens with a ceremony. Here's what different cities have got planned.

EXPLAINED: How are Sweden's cities celebrating new citizens this year?

Under a 2015 law, all municipalities in Sweden are required to hold a ceremony to welcome new citizens. 

The ceremony is intended to convey to new Swedish citizens that their citizenship is “the most important legal link between the citizen and the state”, that citizenship brings “freedom, rights, and responsibilities”, and that citizenship is one of the grounds of folkstyrelsen, or “government by the peoplein Sweden, and stands for samhörighet, or “belonging” in Sweden. 

Municipalities are reimbursed for part of the cost of hosting the ceremonies. 

Stockholm

Stockholm is once again celebrating new citizens in a ceremony in the Stadshuset building. Around 1,300 of the 6,701 new citizens invited to the ceremony have said they will attend, and they have invited a total of 900 guests to accompany them. All citizens over the age of 18 are allowed to bring one guest and all under the age of 18 two guests. 

The 30-minute ceremony will start with a short musical concert, followed by a speech from the city’s mayor Anna König Jerlmyr and city council chair Cecilia Brinck. 

The ceremony will end with a rendition of Sweden’s national anthem, after which all invitees are invited for fika (coffee and a cinnamon bun) in the building’s Golden Hall or Gyllene sal. 

Only those who became citizens during 2021 are invited to the ceremony, as those who became citizens in 2020 and 2019 were celebrated with a digital ceremony. 

Gothenburg 

Gothenburg is pulling out all the stops, inviting 6,063 new citizens to a ceremony in the Slottsskogen park, on the grass in front of the Björngårdsvillan pavilion in the park. 

The ceremony will involve a performance by the multicultural Dream Orchestra, a group rendition of Sweden’s national anthem, a speech by Gothenburg’s mayor Axel Josefsson, and a concert by the Gothenburg symphony orchestra. 

Malmö 

Malmö has decided to hold a shorter ceremony in 2022 than those it held before the pandemic struck, with a two-hour ceremony outside in the city’s Stortorget Square which are part and parcel of the city’s larger National Day celebrations. 

Some 4,000 new citizens have been invited to the ceremony, but the organisers expect only a few hundred to attend. 

The event will start at 12am, and will start with a speech by Anneli Hultén, Governor of Skåne. The Malmöflickorna dance gymnastics group will march in holding Swedish flags, and a choir will perform. 

At 12.40, Carina Nilsson, chair of Malmö’s city council, will give a speech directly to the city’s new citizens. 

Only those who became citizens in 2021 are invited to the ceremony. Those who became citizens in 2020 were invited to a symbolic planting of flower bulbs at the Ribersborg beach on October 3rd to celebrate Malmö gaining its 350,000th resident. 

Uppsala 

Uppsala is holding a citizenship ceremony in the Uppsala Slott, the castle in the city centre, for everyone in the city who became a citizen in 2021.  Around 2,050 people have been invited, of whom 415 are children, and the city expects around 580 new citizens to attend the ceremony. 

Sweden’s Social Security minister Ardalan Shekarabi will give a speech, as will Eva Edwardsson, chair of the city council, Linda Eskilsson, chair of the city’s cultural committee, and Kholod Saghir, the editor of the freedom of expression organisation Svenska Pen. 

The city’s La Cappella women’s choir will perform. 

Västerås 

Våsterås is holding a ceremony for those who became citizens in 2021, with the chair of the municipality’s council, Anders Teljebäck, holding a speech, and a “flag parade” to the Djäkneberget park where the city is holding its National Day celebrations.

Södertälje 

Södertälje, the satellite town outside Stockholm, has decided to invite everyone who has become a citizen in 2019, 2020 or 2021 to a ceremony at the city’s Torekällberget open air museum and the Råby stage. 

They will get speeches from the mayor Boel Godner, and from the chair of the city council Peter Friström. 

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