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UPDATED: How many people in Sweden are at risk of losing permanent residency?

Sweden's migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard said in an interview last week that the government only aimed to abolish asylum-related permanent residency. How many people could that affect?

UPDATED: How many people in Sweden are at risk of losing permanent residency?
Migration Agency offices in Sundbyberg. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

In the Tidö Agreement between the far-right Sweden Democrats and Sweden’s three governing parties it states that “the institution of permanent residence permits should be phased out”. 

A total of 296,981 people currently hold permanent residency (PUT) in Sweden, according to new figures provided to The Local by the Swedish Migration Agency.

So are they at risk? 

Not all of them, according to Migration Minister Malmer Stenergard, who told Swedish state broadcaster SR last week that only asylum-related permanent residencies would be affected by the changes. Permanent residency awarded to people who came to Sweden on a work permit will not be withdrawn and will continue to exist. 

READ ALSO: ‘Work permit holders will not lose permanent residency’: Swedish Migration Minister

So how many of the permanent residencies currently in existence are asylum-related? 

According to numbers provided to The Local by the Migration Agency only 69,022 of the permanent residencies currently in existence are directly asylum-related, while 16,520 are work-permit-related. 

Fully 132,105 of those granted permanent residency came through family reunification, 33,218 were classed as coming through skydd, the various forms of alternative protection, 11,065 were EU-related, and 33,457 were granted permanent residency for other reasons. 

Other reasons included categories such as tillfälligt besök (temporary visit), or uppehållstillstånd pga varaktigt bosatt i Sverige (residency as a result of long-term living in Sweden), as well as people whose reason for permanent residency had been wrongly entered into the database. 

The Local has contacted the Migration Agency for more information on how these categories are defined.

We are not yet sure whether, when Malmer Stenergard talks of withdrawing “asylum-related permanent residencies” (or alternatively upgrading their holders to full citizenship), she intends to focus narrowly on the 69,022 directly awarded cases. 

It’s quite likely that the government will also seek to withdraw the permanent residencies received by close relatives of refugees as a result of family reunification. 

Migration Agency figures on residencies granted between 1980 and 2020 show that more than 964,061 of the 2,638,547 who were given permits during the period were given permits because they were close relatives of people who have already been granted asylum. Of those 964,061, only 249,804 were close relatives of people with refugee status. 

This would indicate that perhaps only a third or a quarter of the family reunification permits are in any way asylum-related, so perhaps less than half of 296,981 permanent residencies now held by people in Sweden are under threat under the government’s plans. 

Member comments

  1. Can you please stop always labelling the Sweden Democrats as “far right” and instead just report the news. The “far right” label is clearly intended as a perjorative term. It provides no value or information, and isn’t well defined except perhaps in your own mind. And we don’t see you labelling all other parties regarding their position on the left-right spectrum. Please try to do better.

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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.