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RESIDENCE PERMITS

How to get a faster decision on your Swedish citizenship or permit application

People who have been waiting for a decision on an application for Swedish citizenship, or a work or residence permit, for at least six months have the right to request an immediate decision from the Migration Agency. We explain how the process works, and the potential pitfalls.

How to get a faster decision on your Swedish citizenship or permit application
An office of the Swedish Migration Agency in Stockholm. File photo: Marcus Ericsson / TT

How does the request for a decision work?

People who have submitted an application for Swedish citizenship, or a work or residence permit, can apply to the Migration Agency to request a quick decision on their case.

This is done by filling out a form online, which can be found here in Swedish and here in English. It’s a short form which just requires giving a few personal details, plus the names of anyone else who is included on your application, such as children.

Who can submit the request?

The request applies if you submitted your initial application at least six months ago and have not yet received a decision.

Is it guaranteed that this will speed up my application?

The short answer: no.

After such a request is submitted, the Migration Agency has four weeks to either make a decision or refuse your request. So it’s possible that they will simply conclude it’s not possible to make a decision within four weeks. 

If that happens, you have the right to appeal that decision to the Migration Court. If your appeal is successful, the court will mandate the Migration Agency to give you a decision “as soon as possible”. These are the cases that get the highest priority, the agency told The Local in 2020.

But if your appeal is rejected too, unfortunately there’s not much more you can do than wait, since it’s not possible to submit this request twice during the same case.

What’s the background?

The request is possible due to a law called Administrative Procedure Act, which requires government agencies to deal with cases as quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively as possible. 

Under Section 12 of that law, applicants have the right to request a decision after they’ve been in the queue for six months.

This came into force in the summer of 2018 and more than 30,000 such requests were made in the first year it was in effect. The same law also requires authorities to inform individuals in advance if it’s likely that they will experience “substantial” delays. 

Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Anything else I should know about the request for a decision?

Well, one consideration is that if the agency does end up making a faster decision on your case, this negatively impacts people who have been waiting longer.

“The large number of such requests took resources from the actual processing of citizenship cases. Since these cases must also be prioritised after any judgment from the Migration Court, and since very many applicants who requested a decision hadn’t waited longer than six to nine months for a decision, this contributed to the fact that the oldest cases became even older,” a Migration Agency press officer told The Local.

What other factors affect when a decision is made?

The best thing you can do to boost your chances of a speedy decision are to ensure that your paperwork is filled out comprehensively and accurately, with all the required information and evidence, when you first submit it.

Around a quarter of the applications that come in are typically judged to be complete and ready for a decision to be made, and the Migration Agency has told The Local these cases are typically processed in less than three months. All others are put into a queue and processed in order of date submitted, with the exception of those where a request for a decision is made.

Have you been caught up in Swedish bureaucracy? Email [email protected] with ‘Citizenship’ in the subject line or fill out this form to share your story with The Local.

Member comments

  1. Don’t bother… they wait until the 4 weeks are up, & then said ‘No’. With no further info, as usual. My lawyer said i could file an appeal, but it would just be more legal fees to get the ubiquitous ‘No’ & zero additional info. I’ve been waiting 4 years so far, & have been a permanent resident for 5.

    Really, if Morgan Johansson wants to fix things, fix the administration of Migrationsverket, not add a language requirement which will be just another clusteruck for the MV employees to use as an excuse to do little other than look for another job (now that they’re all getting fired anyway…)

  2. My case was refused, I was given no reason in the letter, my case worker took 4 days to answer their phone, didn’t take any notes as to why the refused my application, and then had the gall to complain that they only had 4 weeks of summer holiday! They’re running a 5 star organisation over there…

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For members

WORK PERMITS

EXPLAINED: Why is it taking so long to get work permits in Sweden?

The Migration Agency has in September been taking nine times longer than its target to process work applications for foreigners employed by so-called "certified operators". What's going on and when will the situation return to normal?

EXPLAINED: Why is it taking so long to get work permits in Sweden?

How long are work permits taking at the moment? 

The Migration Agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in a recent article that in the first half of September the average work permit decision for those who have been hired by so-called certified operators — basically a fast-track for big and trustworthy companies — had taken an average of 105 days, while under its agreement with these companies, it is supposed to take only ten. 

The agency told The Local that this number, though correct, was misleading as the number and timing of applications varies so much from month to month, which is why it prefers to take an average over a longer period. 

According to tables provided to The Local by the agency, it has so far this year taken an average of 46 days to handle a first-time application for a work permit by an employee who has been hired by a company that is part of the certified operator scheme. This is nearly three times as along as the average of 19 days it took in 2021. 

Work permit extensions for employees at certified companies have taken 108 days so far this year, up from 43 days in 2021. 

First time work permit applications outside the certified employer scheme have taken 121 days so far this year, which is actually less than the 139 days it took in 2021. Extensions outside the scheme have so far this year taken an average of 327 days, up from 277 in 2021. 

According to the calculator on the Migration Agency’s website, 75 percent of first work permit applications for people in industries that are not considered high risk are currently completed within three months, and 75 percent of work permit extensions are completed within 14 months. 

For first-time work permit applicants who have been given jobs by or through a certified company, the agency also estimates that 75 percent of applications are processed “within three months”. 

What’s the problem? 

According to Fredrik Bengtsson, the agency’s director for Southern Sweden, who is also responsible for processing work permits, the agency has received far more applications in 2022 than it had predicted at the start of the year. 

“So far this year we have already received 10,000 more applications than our prognosis,” he told The Local. 

New rules which came into force on June 1st have also significantly increased the workload, particularly a new requirement that those applying for work permits already have a signed contract with their future employer. 

“That meant that tens of thousands of ongoing cases needed to be completed,” Bengtsson said.  

The new law also meant that instead of simply having to simply meet a minimum income requirement to bring over spouses and children, work permit applicants also needed to prove that they could support them and supply adequate housing. 

“With the new law, we need to do a much more fundamental analysis of the employee [‘s financial situation], if they want to bring their family,” he added. 

Although the agency has reduced the number of its employees from around 9,000 immediately after the 2015 refugee crisis to about 5,000 today, Bengtsson said this was something decided on by Sweden’s government in the annual budget, and was not directly linked to the current staff shortages, or to the pandemic as some have reported. 

Wrong-footed by war in Ukraine 

While the agency had been aware of these changes in advance, warned about them in its responses to a government white paper, and recruited more staff in anticipation, Bengtsson said that that the war in Ukraine had diverted resources, meaning that at the time the new law came into effect in June, the work permit division lacked sufficient staff to handle the additional workload. 

What is the agency planning to do? 

The agency is still recruiting and moving more staff to the division processing work permits.

It is also increasing the use of digitalisation, or automated systems, to process work permit applications, although there are limits under the law meaning that parts of a work permit decision still need to be made by case officers. 

The new requirement to assess applicants’ ability to support their families has made digitalisation more complicated, Bengtsson said: “As soon as we need to make judgements, we can’t digitalise”. 

He stressed that the agency was still managing to process work permits within the four-month time limit given to it under law. The ten-day goal was just “a service we offer companies”, he added, and was not something the agency was mandated to achieve. 

“We are working full out to bring down the processing time again, but it is possible that we won’t be able to return to the processing times that we had before,” he said. “We may have to say, we can only do it in a month, but we will have to see how it is with the new laws for a few more months, and then we’ll take a decision.” 

In the longer term, Bengtsson predicted that if the labour market test or a much higher minimum salary for work permit applicants is brought in, as seems likely in the coming years, this would speed up processing times. 

“There will be fewer applicants, and it will be easier for those big companies hiring people with a higher education level to get work permit,” he said. 

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