“We propose that it be possible to live abroad for five years, but to still have formal ties to Sweden,” Green Party MP Mikaela Valtersson, head of the Parliamentary Committee on Circular Migration and Development, said in a statement.
The committee presented preliminary findings to migration minister Tobias Billström on Thursday afternoon on how the government can promote migration and support its positive effects on development.
According to the committee’s conclusions, migration isn’t only positive for individuals, but can also have a positive effect on development in Sweden and in the immigrants’ countries of origin.
The committee, established by the government in July 2009, is tasked with surveying and describing the conditions for migration to and from Sweden, as well as analysing connections between migration and development.
Defined by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as “the fluid movement of people between countries, including temporary or long-term movement which may be beneficial to all involved, if occurring voluntarily and linked to the labour needs of countries of origin and destination”, circular migration has gained increasing attention in the study of the economic impact of migration.
Centre Party MP Fredrick Federley, also a member of the committee, believes Swedish migration policy is set to enter a new era.
“It gives a picture of Sweden where people have said ‘you come here in need and get to stay here for awhile’. What we’re now saying is that those who move across borders more than two times are welcome to do so and we want to make it easier for them to do it,” he told Sveriges Radio (SR).
Other measures proposed by the committee include a more flexible permit system for labour migrants that will make it easier for them to move in and out of Sweden.
Asylum seekers who have had their applications rejected could instead receive permits to stay in Sweden as migrant workers, as long as they worked for at least three months during their asylum seeking process.
The committee also wants to make Sweden a more attractive destination for foreign workers by addressing complications which occur when employers don’t meet the expectations and work conditions promised to prospective workers from abroad.
In a bid to make Sweden more attractive for foreign students, the committee proposed that accompanying family members should be granted work permits for their stay in Sweden.
It also wants to see scholarship programmes for students from outside the European Union expanded as well as new rules that would allow students to have six months to find work in Sweden following the completion of their studies.
“International students in Sweden are a good example of the positive aspects of migration for all involved. The students get a competitive education, the universities and colleges can have a wider course offering, which benefits Sweden, and the students can then return home with increased competence,” said Valtersson.
Entrepreneurs and business owners with foreign backgrounds should also receive support for starting their enterprises in their countries of origin, the committee proposed.
Doing so would boost development in countries of origin and in Sweden via increased trade with the country where the returning immigrants start their businesses.
According to the committee, today’s globalised world has lead to an increasing number of immigrants dividing their lives between different societies and countries.
New technologies also make it easier for immigrants to maintain strong ties with several countries. Moreover, immigrants often have family members in both their destination and home countries, and Swedish policies must take these realities into account.
By sending money to their home countries, immigrants can still contribute to the development of their home countries even though they’ve moved somewhere else.
“When people’s methods of moving and migrating between different countries is constantly changing, it’s important that policies keep up and adjusted to the new realities,” said Valtersson.
“Our system and rules needs to be adjusted to these new patterns and more changes may be needed in a direction which promotes increased movement and increases migrations development potential.”