The Danish government in March announced that hundreds of British nationals who missed the deadline for post-Brexit residency would be allowed to apply or reapply.
But a spokesperson for Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard confirmed to The Local on Tuesday that a similar reprieve was not being planned in Sweden “at the moment”.
Sweden has ordered 1,100 British citizens to leave the country since the end of the Brexit transition period, according to data from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat – 41 percent of the EU’s total deportation orders for Brits.
When The Local in February asked the migration minister to explain the high figures, she said they came as “complete news” to her.
“We want them here,” she told us at the time.
We have, despite repeated contact with the Swedish border police, Migration Agency and government, not been able to confirm how many of the Swedish deportation orders are due to late applications, but data suggests they are, as in Denmark, only a few hundred.
Reasons for rejected applications for post-Brexit residency, according to the Migration Agency, include “incomplete applications, applications where the applicant did not fulfil the requirement for residence status, and applications listed as ‘reason unknown’”.
The deportation figures include Brits whose residency application was rejected, but also other reasons for deportation, such as recently released prisoners or people turned away on the border because they did not have the right to enter Sweden. There could be some degree of inaccuracy, including people being counted twice, and reported data may to some extent vary between EU countries.
In Denmark, at least 350 British nationals who lived in Denmark at the time of Brexit failed to apply to remain in the country before the deadline of the end of 2021, after letters to remind them were not sent out. Many of them were subsequently given orders to leave.
But after criticism from rights groups, who accused Danish immigration authorities of not correctly applying the rules of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the Danish government announced that the deadline would be extended until the end of 2023.
“It’s hard to see how Sweden has fulfilled its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement concerning publicity and the admissibility of late applications from UK nationals,” David Milstead of the Facebook group Brits in Sweden, which in the run-up to the deadline warned that Sweden was not doing enough to reach Brits affected by Brexit.
Sweden ran information campaigns but generally did not contact Brits directly to inform them that they needed to secure their right to stay.
“Sweden mainly targeted those British citizens in the care of the state. This is important but ultimately these are people who could have applied late with a well motivated reason to have a late application accepted. The authorities essentially ignored the bulk of UK nationals. As a strategy to ultimately get as many Brits in Sweden as possible to acquire the new residence status and avoid deportation it was ill-thought-out,” said Milstead.
Several readers of The Local told us they wrongly believed they already had the right to stay in Sweden and did not need to apply for residence status, due to confusion over similar-sounding terms such as residence permit, residence card and residence status.
“Late applicants typically encountered confusing information from the Swedish state. For example, many looked at the Migration Agency web pages after Brexit and were assured that they had acquired permanent residency. They discovered much later that permanent didn’t mean permanent in their case,” said Milstead.
Late applications are not the only reasons why so many British nationals in Sweden have had their residence status rejected.
One British citizen, Gregory, had lived in Sweden for 21 years but was between jobs at the time of the deadline, which he told The Local meant he did not qualify.
Stockholm chef Stuart Philpott only learned that he should have applied for post-Brexit status shortly before he was frogmarched onto a return flight by Swedish border police.
James, a British citizen working in the building industry, only found out he no longer had residency in Sweden after calling the Migration Agency about an unrelated issue.
The Swedish Migration Agency last week put the deportation of Kathleen Poole, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s, “on hold” pending an assessment of her health. The expulsion order, which has sparked outrage in the UK, has however not been repealed.