Sweden’s plan to hand out residence permits to Brits after a no-deal Brexit

Sweden's plan to hand out residence permits to Brits after a no-deal Brexit
Sweden wants to make it easier for Brits to stay. Photo: The Local
Sweden's justice ministry has put forward a proposal for special permits for British nationals and their families in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

READ ALSO: Sweden's justice minister answers The Local's readers' questions about the new permits

“British citizens in Sweden should be able to rest assured that they will be able to continue living their lives in Sweden the way they have been doing,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told SVT.

Not many details were immediately revealed on Thursday morning, but SVT reports the new regulations would give Brits who already have a permanent right of residence (permanent uppehållsrätt) in Sweden a permanent residence permit (permanent uppehållstillstånd). EU citizens automatically enjoy permanent right of residence if they have been living in another EU country for at least five years.

Brits who have lived here a shorter period of time but meet the requirements for right of residence would receive a five-year residence permit, reports SVT. The intention is that this will in theory make it easier for Brits to keep living long enough in Sweden to be eligible to remain here indefinitely.

Around 20,000 Brits currently live in Sweden without Swedish citizenship.

“I mean, we can't get the police to go and pick up 25,000 (sic) Brits and send them home. We obviously won't do that. Not just for their sake but also for Sweden's sake,” Johansson told SVT on Thursday.

The Local reported yesterday that new regulations were to be presented within days and has approached the justice ministry on several occasions for an interview with the minister and a copy of the proposals.

Sweden has already guaranteed a one-year 'grace period' if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on October 31st. During this year all Brits already living in the country would retain their rights to live, work, and obtain healthcare and any other benefits in Sweden without needing a residence permit.

But it has long been unclear what would happen after these 12 months.

If nothing changes Brits without Swedish citizenship would have been treated as third-country nationals, but the new proposals follow a government statement saying work was under way to review “the legal possibilities for continuing to live and work in Sweden even after the exception has ceased to apply”.

The Local has questioned the Swedish government on several occasions in the past year on what Brits' status would be after the grace period, pushing for clarity on whether current regulations around work and residence permits would apply.

Some of the concerns raised by many of our readers include pensioners who are uncertain if they will meet the requirements to stay, students with worries about their access to free tuition, and employees with concerns that their jobs will make them ineligible for work permits due to not meeting the conditions.

Campaigners such as the Brits in Sweden Facebook group have also been asking decision-makers for answers. A document sent out in August said that “the message from politicians is also far from satisfactory. Hans Dahlgren, Sweden's EU Minister, said in March 2019 that Sweden at the time could not guarantee Brits' future [in Sweden] in the event of a no-deal Brexit”, citing The Local's interview with the minister. 

When The Local spoke to EU Minister Dahlgren for a brief update in August, he said “it is serious that the risk of a hard Brexit has increased” but did at the time not have any more information on how Sweden planned to treat British citizens living in Sweden once the one-year grace period was over.

The new proposals, outlined in a government memorandum which The Local has requested to see, will now be sent out for consultation. If they are approved they would come into force on January 1st, reports SVT.

Editor's note: The Local is trying to get more information about exactly what the new regulations would mean for Brits in Sweden, but we would love to hear your immediate thoughts, or if you have any questions. Please email me at [email protected]

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