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STATISTICS

IN NUMBERS: How many Brits have applied for their post-Brexit status in Sweden?

With just over two months to go until the deadline, several thousand of Sweden's British residents have not yet applied for the post-Brexit residence status that guarantees their continued right to stay in the country.

IN NUMBERS: How many Brits have applied for their post-Brexit status in Sweden?
An ID station at a Migration Agency office in Sundbyberg, north Stockholm, where Brits in the capital region can receive their permit cards. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Since the post-Brexit permits were launched in December 2020, 9,264 British citizens in Sweden have applied for them, according to Migration Agency statistics shared with The Local on July 26th (the data was correct as of July 25th). Around half of those applications were submitted within the first two months it was possible to do so.

That means that more than 5,000 Brits living in Sweden without Swedish citizenship have not yet applied for the status; national data agency Statistics Sweden states that as of the end of 2020, there were 14,903 Brits in this category in total.

The deadline for the application is September 30th, 2021, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that 5,000 Brits risk missing the deadline.

It may be the case that they have already secured their right to stay in Sweden, for example if they also hold nationality of another EU country (the Statistics Sweden dataset excludes Brits who also hold Swedish citizenship, but not other nationalities).

However, this data only includes people included in the national population register, which foreigners are added to if they can prove they will stay in Sweden for at least a year and receive a personnummer or social security number.

Brexit campaign groups have previously warned about the risk of people without a personnummer falling through the gaps and being unable to register, but a personnummer is not a requirement for the residence status, as long as the applicant can prove they moved to Sweden and have lived there legally since before the end of December 2020. In other words, it’s hard to say exactly how many people needed the post-Brexit status and what proportion have not yet applied. The Migration Agency previously estimated that 20,000 Brits would need it.

Of the applications submitted for post-Brexit residence status, around two thirds (6,123) have been granted a permit while about seven percent (676) were rejected. The Local has asked the agency for the most common reasons for rejected permits.

As of late July, a total of 2,465 cases were pending.

Although the UK left the EU in March 2020, the Migration Agency did not allow Brits to apply for their post-Brexit status until December that year, and began processing applications from the start of 2021 due to limited funding.

As well as applying for the post-Brexit residence status, since Brexit there has been a surge in the number of Brits in Sweden applying for Swedish citizenship.

Swedish citizenship grants them the right to stay in Sweden without needing a permit (as well as the right to vote in general elections, for example) although in some specific circumstances the post-Brexit permit grants rights which citizenship does not, in particular when it comes to the conditions on which you can bring a family member to Sweden.

So far in 2021, 820 British citizens have submitted applications for Swedish citizenship, after 2,190 applications in 2020 and 3,495 the year before that. And the number of citizenships granted to Brits for those years were 676, 2,160 and 4,563. The reason those don’t correlate exactly to the number of applications is that there is currently a long delay for citizenship decisions, so many applications are not assessed and granted (or rejected) until a year or even longer after they are submitted.

As of late July, the Migration Agency told The Local there were 646 citizenship applications from British citizens awaiting a decision. 

Brits who have not yet applied for their permit can do so at any point until September 30th, 2021, via the Migration Agency’s web page. You do not need to be physically present in Sweden at the time of application, as long as you can prove you had right of residence before December 31st, 2020.

The agency has urged British nationals to apply as soon as possible and one advantage to this is that once you have submitted your application, you will receive a letter of confirmation, and can use this if you need to prove your right to live in Sweden – for example if returning to the country after travel overseas.

During the time that British applicants are waiting on a decision, they have the same rights as EU citizens and can continue to live and work in Sweden, as long as they moved before December 31st.

Once an application has been approved, it is necessary to visit one of the Migration Agency’s Service Centres to have fingerprints and a photo taken before the residence card can be issued.

Member comments

  1. It maybe that many of us already had permanent Uppehalltilstand obtained before Brexit. I was told that I had to apply for residence as was the advice from the British Embassy, which I did on line only to be told that I still had it from 2003 and told to get a biometric ID card from Migrationsverket to replace the old stamp in a now expired passport.

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For members

BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

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