In early March, the Swedish government formally adopted a regulation which would, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, grant British citizens and their family members resident in Sweden a one-year exemption from the need to have work and residence permits.
This one-year 'grace period', as The Local has previously reported, means Brits and their family members would retain many of their current rights for 12 months. After this year, they would be expected to have permits to remain in the country. It's not yet clear if Brits would be subject to existing permit regulations – something which both the Migration Agency and Sweden's largest major business federation have warned would be problematic – or if special legislation would be introduced.
“The regulation decided by the Swedish government today aims to counter the most serious consequences of a no-deal Brexit for UK nationals currently living and working in Sweden,” Anna Westling, a legal advisor at the Department of Justice, told The Local when the regulation was adopted, directing Brits to the government's website for the latest updates on Brexit preparations.
“It's about, among other things, creating a framework for the approximately 20,000 Brits who are in Sweden, so that they don't lose their right of residence immediately and overnight,” the TT newswire quoted Justice Minister Morgan Johansson as saying in reference to the regulation.
“That's why the government has decided on a change to the regulation, where we create an exception for this group so that for one year they have the possibility to apply for an exception. So, there will be unchanged conditions for them during this year.”
The regulation also covers children, so that children born to a British parent in Sweden after a no-deal Brexit but during the grace period, or who move to Sweden to join a British parent during the grace period, would receive the same rights during that year as their parent.
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The exemption will apply automatically, so Brits and their family members do not need to make special applications in order to continue living and working as normal after any no-deal Brexit.
However, Brits who plan to travel outside Sweden during the one-year period after Brexit have been advised to apply for a 'proof' of their rights, in the form of a passport stamp issued by the Migration Agency.
“If you want to travel for business or pleasure, it's recommended that you apply for proof that you have the right to legally reside in the country,” Åsa Hemingway from the Migration Agency said at a townhall meeting held by the British Embassy in Stockholm. She recommended that anyone who knew they would travel during the year should apply for the stamp “as soon as possible” once it was possible to do so, rather than waiting until shortly before the busy summer period, for example.
The agency initially said that it would be possible to apply via their website from March 22nd, with applications processed from March 30th. But after EU leaders agreed to an extension of Article 50, postponing the date of Brexit, the agency said the stamp applications would also be delayed and would become available on their website only if a no-deal Brexit was confirmed.
To apply for the stamp, Brits would need to send in this form and a copy of their passport, and the agency has said it hopes to process decisions within one week. Once a decision is made, Brits would be able to get the passport stamp at various Migration Agency offices around the country.
The regulation only applies if the UK leaves the EU without any deal, an outcome which currently does not look likely but depends on what happens during the extension of Article 50.
Under the deal previously agreed between the UK and the EU, a two-year transition period would begin once the UK formally leaves the bloc.
During those two years, Brits already legally resident in Sweden, as well as those who move there before the end of the transition period, would retain many of their current rights for the rest of their lives, including to live, work and study in Sweden. Those with five years' residence in Sweden would be granted permanent residence, and others would be granted temporary residence to allow them to reach the five-year period required for permanent residency or citizenship applications.
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