New demands for immigrant families

Before bringing their families to Sweden, newly arrived immigrants must first demonstrate they have housing and disposable income, according to a new proposal.

A government commission looking into the requirement immigrants must fulfill before sending for their families suggests they must have secure housing and at least 5,000 kronor ($620) a month left over after making their rent.

The commission was launched in February and according to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the new rules are a way of strengthening Sweden’s employment policies.

At the same time, the government wants to show that “those who point to the downside of multiculturalism aren’t answered by an attempt to cover up problems but rather with measures for making improvements,” Reinfeldt said in Feburary at a press conference in Landskrona announcing the plan.

But critics from the opposition as well as immigrants’ and refugees’ rights groups immediately condemned the proposal.

Relatives of immigrants make up more than half of those who receive Swedish residence permits through Sweden’s asylum system, and officials from particularly popular towns like Malmö, Gothenburg, and Södertälje, have complained for years about the extremely cramped housing conditions for new immigrants.

Today, Sweden and Belgium are the only EU countries which don’t place self-sufficiency requirements on immigrants before allowing them to seek residency for their families.

Uppsala judge Erik Lempert, who led the inquiry, plans to present the commission’s suggestions on December 1st.

According to TT, he has concluded that the person who receives a Swedish residency permit would only be required to demonstrate a capacity to support him – or herself, but not an entire family.

The proposal also includes several exceptions.

Minors granted residency permits would not be bound by the requirements, for example, nor would those who have been granted asylum and have met the legal definition of being a refugee.

Also excepted from the requirements are those who are granted residency in Sweden for protective reasons, specifically those who are seen to have “well-grounded fears” for being subject to torture or suffering in a war in their home country.

However, those who are allowed to stay as a result of a natural disaster, as well as those with “special unnamed circumstances” must abide by the income and housing demands before being allowed to bring their families to Sweden, according to the commission’s proposal.