SHARE
COPY LINK

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.

Loading…

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

RESIDENCE PERMITS

REVEALED: The truth about waiting times at Sweden’s Migration Agency

A new report from Sweden's Parliamentary Ombudsman has found that a number of cases at Sweden's Migration Agency were "not actively processed for the majority of the processing time", despite waits of more than three years.

REVEALED: The truth about waiting times at Sweden's Migration Agency

What is this report?

The report, which came out on December 13th, addresses complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman about long processing times at the Migration Agency for citizenship, asylum and residence permit applications.

In the report, Parliamentary Ombudsman Per Lennerbrant said that the Migration Agency must make “special efforts” to address the long waiting times faced by those applying for asylum, permanent residency, or citizenship in Sweden.

Lennerbrant stated that it is “unacceptable” that the Migration Agency, year after year, has unreasonably long processing times for a large range of cases.

He further criticised the Migration Agency for “slow and passive” processing in all cases which were a subject of the investigation.

How long did these applicants have to wait?

The report, which assessed five cases reported by applicants for Swedish citizenship, asylum and residence permits, concluded that, in all cases, processing times “exceeded what is considered acceptable”.

The five cases are described as follows:

  • “AA”, who applied for Swedish citizenship on May 21st, 2020. In January 2021, a Migration Court concluded that the Migration Agency must conclude “AA”‘s case “as soon as possible”. The case was concluded on February 1st, 2022. Waiting time: 1 year, 8 months, 11 days
  • “BB”, who applied for Swedish citizenship on July 30th, 2018. The case was concluded on March 16th, 2022. Waiting time: 3 years, 7 months, 16 days
  • “CC”, who applied for Swedish citizenship on June 27th, 2018. The case was concluded on March 3rd, 2022. Waiting time: 3 years, 8 months, 4 days
  • “DD”, who applied for asylum in Sweden on January 9th, 2020. The case was concluded on February 18th, 2022. Waiting time: 2 years, 1 month, 9 days
  • “EE”, who applied for a residence permit as a family member (a so-called ‘sambo’ permit), on November 29th, 2020. The case was concluded on March 28th, 2022. Waiting time: 1 year, 3 months, 28 days

What did the Ombudsman say about these cases?

The report concluded that, in all cases, processing times “exceeded what is considered acceptable”.

The report further concluded that all five cases were subject to “long periods of passivity”, stating that four cases were “not actively processed for the majority of the processing time”. One of these cases was concluded after “roughly a week” once a Migration Agency case officer finally started processing it.

In the fifth case, it states, processing “was initially carried out”, with “more than a year” passing before further action was taken, and then “a further ten months” before the case was concluded.

How has the Migration Agency responded?

The Parliamentary Ombudsman demanded a response from the Migration Agency, as well as answers to a number of questions, which it received on June 8th, 2022.

In its response, the Migration Agency stated that it “works to conclude received applications within the dates stipulated by law in all types of case”. It further stated that it “calculates that the goal of being able to conclude asylum and family reunification cases within legal deadlines […] will be reached during 2023,” and that the goal of concluding citizenship cases within six months will also be reached the same year.

It further states that a “new structure to provide support to employees working to conclude cases” was established at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, which introduced a “case concluding support network” for each part of the process.

In March 2022, the Agency continues, “a new process was introduced for cases addressing residence permits due to family reunification, meaning, for example, that all new family reunification cases are handled by a central function which sorts out those cases which should be processed quickly”.

In 2021, the Agency states, an additional centre for handling citizenship cases was opened to “increase recruitment and lower vulnerability”.

It also stated that issues for the Agency which can cause delays include decisions from the Migration Courts demanding that cases should be concluded quickly, which affects the order in which different cases are prioritised, as well as outside factors such as war in Ukraine, which can cause bottlenecks.

The Agency agreed with the Parliamentary Ombudsman that processing times had “not been satisfactory” in any of the five cases addressed by the report.

Does that really mean people applying for citizenship next year will have an answer within six months?

The Parliamentary Ombudsman doesn’t seem to think so. It stated that the investigation shows that “the Migration Agency still has major issues with processing times”, and that it “concludes that it will take years before they reach an acceptable level”.

“In my previous assessment,” Ombudsman Per Lennerbrant said, “I spoke of a fear that the agency’s long processing times would become the norm if serious measures were not taken,” he said.

“I am now forced to confirm that my fears appear to have been valid. The Migration Agency must make special efforts to address the long processing times.”

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has also sent a copy of the decision to Sweden’s governmental offices, as the long waiting times are also in part due to a lack of resources.

SHOW COMMENTS