Sweden accused of breaking EU law over long residence permit wait times

Sweden accused of breaking EU law over long residence permit wait times
A waiting room at an office of the Swedish Migration Agency. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT
Sweden's Migration Agency has violated EU law by failing to issue residence permits within agreed time limits, a new complaint to the European Commission claims.

The EU Rights Clinic referred Sweden to the European Commission for delays in issuing residence permits to non-EU nationals with family members who were EU citizens.

Under EU law, this kind of permit (for family reunification) should be issued within six months of application, although Swedish law only requires for the permits to be issued within a nine-month period. However, the EU Rights Clinic and Crossroads, a Gothenburg-based organization which supports foreign citizens in Sweden, collected data that showed in reality the Migration Agency's processing time lasted up for two years. 

The requirements which must be met for family member residence permits to be granted underwent significant changes in 2016, as The Local reported at the time. For example, the family member already in Sweden was required to show they could provide financially for both themselves and the applicant.

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“The delay in issuing residence cards is affecting the ability of non-EU family members to lead a normal life in Sweden,” the EU Rights Clinic said in its statement.

While waiting for the permit, non-EU family members cannot leave Sweden or prove their right to work in the country, affecting their career prospects, and the clinic also noted that this led to “anxiety and even depression” due to the uncertainty.

It's the second time in under a year that the EU Rights Clinic has referred Sweden to the European Commission. The last complaint, submitted in November, related to the strict rules over issuing a personal number to EU citizens and their family members in Sweden.

And in Sweden, the number of complaints about the Migration Agency sent to the country's Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO) increased by 255 percent between 2014 and 2017, with waiting times one of the most frequently recurring issues.

READ ALSO: How to get Swedish citizenship or stay permanently in Sweden

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