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‘No change in rules’ for pre-Brexit Brits applying for Swedish citizenship

Brits living in Sweden at the time the UK left the European Union were eligible to apply for post-Brexit residence status to retain their right to live in Sweden. But what requirements do pre-Brexit Brits need to meet to convert this to citizenship?

'No change in rules' for pre-Brexit Brits applying for Swedish citizenship
A Union flag waves behind a European Union flag, outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Photo/Alberto Pezzali/AP

Several of the readers who responded to our survey on the difficulties they had been suffering as a result of Brexit complained of the lack of clarity over what criteria they would have to meet over their five years living with a post-Brexit residence status in order to qualify for permanent residency or citizenship. 

Not sure what the difference is between residence status, residence cards, right of residence and residence permits? See The Local’s guide to the different types of residency in Sweden here.

Permanent residency

When The Local asked the Migration Agency about this, they wrote that “in order to gain permanent right of residence (permanent uppehållsrätt), [Brits living in Sweden with post-Brexit residence status] need to have been living in Sweden legally for five consecutive years.”

“Right of residence both before and after Brexit can be counted towards this, so both residence that the person held as an EU citizen [uppehållsrätt], and time with [post-Brexit] residence status,” the agency wrote.

“It also doesn’t matter which grounds the person had for residency under EU rules or if the applicant had several different grounds for residency [residency as a student and then a worker, for example]. What matters is that the requirements for residency have been met at all times.”

This means that the rules for permanent residency are much the same as they are for EU citizens under the EU’s freedom of movement legislation. See the EU rules here

For example, if a pre-Brexit Brit (or other EU citizen) living in Sweden loses their job in Sweden after being employed for less than 12 months, they can only keep their “worker” category for six months, and then only if they immediately register their unemployment with the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen).

If they either forget to register as unemployed, fail to get a job, or fail to register under another category such as under student or self-sufficiency rules, their stay in Sweden will then not count as “legal” for the purposes of citizenship or residency. 

Note that for the purposes of permanent residency, post-Brexit residence status is seen as equal to EU right of residence. This means, for example, that Brits with post-Brexit residence status do not need to apply for a permanent residence permit (permanent uppehållstillstånd or PUT), but they gain permanent residence status after a period of five years, as long as they have met the EU requirements for residence for that entire period.

Under EU rules, you do not need to apply for permanent right of residency, it is a right you gain automatically after staying in Sweden legally for at least five years. You can, however, apply for a certificate documenting your right of residency, referred to as a certificate or intyg of permanent right of residence.

As far as The Local understands, the same applies for those living in Sweden on post-Brexit residency, although it is not clear how Brits with residence status can apply for permanent residence status after living in Sweden long enough.

It is also important to note that the only truly permanent residence document, which cannot be revoked (all others can be revoked after a period of living outside of Sweden), is Swedish citizenship.

Are there any changes in citizenship rules for pre-Brexit Brits?

The short answer is ‘no’.

The Migration Agency told The Local that “there are no changes in the possibility of gaining citizenship when compared with the rules prior to Brexit.”

Brits with post-Brexit residence status are not required to hold a permanent residence permit (PUT) in order to apply for Swedish citizenship, with post-Brexit residence status seen as equal to EU right of residence for the purpose of citizenship applications.

For example, an EU citizen or Brit with post-Brexit residence status is eligible for citizenship after living in Sweden for just three years if they live with a Swedish citizen and have done so for the past two years or more, whereas non-EU citizens (and post-Brexit Brits) must hold a PUT in order to apply for citizenship, meaning they can usually apply after four years, at the earliest, even if they also live with a Swedish citizen.

You can see the requirements for citizenship here.

Member comments

  1. Hi,

    What if you became a Swedish citizen but your but your children and wife still have residence status , would they lose the residence status and need to apply for permits as family members to a Swedish citizen ?

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Swedish Migration Agency asks to pause fast-track scheme for delayed permits

Sweden's Migration Agency has called for a "temporary pause" in the processing of so-called delayed work permit and citizenship cases, which means individuals would no longer be able to request a decision to be made on their case after four or six months have passed.

Swedish Migration Agency asks to pause fast-track scheme for delayed permits

The Migration Agency’s general director Mikael Ribbenvik explained in a press release that the agency had requested the pause in order to cut waiting times.

“We can see that handling these delayed cases takes far too many resources away from normal processing,” he said.

“This leads to longer processing times, which goes against the whole idea of the rule.”

The request, submitted by the Migration Agency, the Swedish courts and the administrative courts in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, proposes that the government pauses the processing of delayed cases for 18 months. This proposal would apply to work permit and citizenship cases, in order to cut processing times.

Despite taking measures to cut waiting times for work permits and citizenship cases, the Migration Agency admits that waiting times are still long, with a growing number of cases – including delayed cases – meaning that resources cannot be used effectively.

The possibility of applying to have a delayed case expedited was introduced in summer 2018 to help those who had been waiting a long time to get an answer on their citizenship or work permit application to speed up the Migration Agency’s decision and thereby cut waiting times.

However, Ribbenvik stated, the agency warned that this could lead to longer waiting times when it was proposed.

“In our response to the consultation stage of the law, we pointed out that this could lead to the opposite – longer waiting times, as our employees have to dedicate their time to these delayed cases instead of responding to applications for citizenship or work permits,” he said.

Facts and figures

Applications for work permits and citizenship increased by 18 percent in 2022 compared with 2018.

In 2022, around 190,000 applications for work permits or citizenship were submitted.

In 2022, around 75,000 applications for a response on delayed cases were submitted.

The average waiting time for work permits is 171 days.

The average waiting time for citizenship is 431 days.

In recent years, between 13,000 and 33,000 decisions on delayed cases were appealed.