The top three countries Sweden’s new citizens come from

The top three countries Sweden's new citizens come from
Are you one of Sweden's new citizens? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Thousands of people became Swedish citizens in 2019, so here's a look at who they are, and how the figure has changed over time.

Sweden welcomed a total of 74,924 new citizens over the course of the year. That's an increase from the previous year, when 63,818 people became Swedish.

As the new year began, 98,107 people were awaiting a decision on their citizenship application.

Gaining citizenship in Sweden requires applicants to be legally resident in the country for between three and five years, depending on where they come from and whether or not they are living with a Swedish spouse or partner.

Currently, it has fairly generous requirements, asking only that applicants fulfill the criteria for legal residence (again, these differ slightly depending on personal situation and country of origin) and have “conducted themselves well” in Sweden, which means no serious criminal record or debts.

There is no test on the Swedish language or society, but this could change after the government launched an inquiry last year into introducing a language requirement.

So where did Sweden's new citizens come from? The top country of nationality for those who received citizenship last year was Syria, accounting for 26,339 of the approvals. That was followed by the UK with a record 4,291 Brits becoming Swedish, and Afghanistan with 3,829. 

When looking at the people who became Swedish last year, slightly more were men; 41,231 compared to 33,693 women. A total of 33,484 children became Swedish along with 41,440 adults.

Because a single case can include more than one person – a parent and child, for example – the total number of citizenship cases which were included was slightly lower, at 64,176.

Of these cases, 41,800 involved people who underwent the process of 'naturalization', the most common way to get citizenship which applies to foreigners becoming Swedish.

A further 22,376 became citizens through the process of anmälan, which most often applies to children born in Sweden who then live there for at least three years with permanent residents. People in this category do not need to apply for Swedish citizenship, but simply inform authorities they are taking it.

And 567 cases applied to Swedes born abroad who had never lived in Sweden, but were granted citizenship, for example by proving their connection to a Swedish parent. This is known as bibehållande, and if we include such cases when counting Sweden's 'new' citizens, the number of approved cases rises to 64,743.

The average processing time for naturalization cases which were concluded in 2019 was 345 days, while for anmälan cases it was 185 days.

On Friday, the agency's website showed that the average expected waiting time for a decision on citizenship applications made today was 36 months. That was higher than the 28-month waiting time predicted for applicants at the start of 2019, despite the agency saying at the time it planned to dedicate more resources to this area to speed up the process.

If you were one of Sweden's new citizens in 2019, congratulations! The Local has plenty of guides, analysis and features aimed at long-term residents, and if there's a topic you've got questions about or think we should cover, you're always welcome to get in touch. And for anyone wondering how they can become Swedish, or at least stay here forever, here's our guide.

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