Migration proposal: Make Sweden’s temporary law permanent

Migration proposal: Make Sweden's temporary law permanent
Sweden's current temporary migration law is set to run out next year. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT
A Swedish parliament committee set up to work out a new migration policy for Sweden is expected to present a proposal that would more or less suggest making the current temporary law permanent.

Swedish public radio news show Ekot reports that the proposal has been shared with the members of the Migration Committee and would in essence mean sticking with the stricter migration policy from post-2016.

The current temporary law, which was introduced back in 2016 after Sweden received record numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers during the crisis of the autumn before, is set to run out next summer. The goal is to replace it with a permanent policy before it expires.

Swedish decision-makers have argued that the country cannot return to a similar situation, despite immigration numbers having dropped radically in the years since due to a series of harsher rules.

All Sweden's major parties agree that migration law needs an overhaul, although many of them disagree on exactly what needs to change and how strict or lenient it should be. Last year the Migration Committee was set up, with representatives form all eight parliamentary parties, to explore how this should be done.

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But talks broke down in July after the Green Party threatened to quit the government when its Social Democrat partners looked increasingly likely to accept the conservative opposition party's bid for a 'volume target' (a cap on the number of asylum seekers who can enter Sweden each year). In the end, the Social Democrats did not side with the Moderates' proposal which meant the bid did not have majority support.

Instead, the Migration Committee, which is made up of experts and secretaries in addition to political representatives, has had to come up with a proposal that would be able to get support in parliament.

But the centre-left Social Democrats were the only ones who appeared happy on Tuesday morning.

“I think it is overall a good proposal. It's mainly those parts that touch on how long your residence permit should be and what rules should apply in order to get a permanent residence permit, the rules on family reunification for example,” Rikard Larsson, the Social Democrats' representative, told Ekot.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Social Democrats) and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin (Greens). Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

One feature of the temporary migration law of 2016 was that asylum seekers received temporary residence permits by default, whereas previously permanent residence permits were the norm. 

And people (not just those who arrived as asylum seekers, but also Swedish citizens and residents) bringing their partners or other family members to live in Sweden had to meet certain requirements around income levels and household size. However, Swedish media reported last month that the parties on the committee had agreed in principle on certain exceptions for Swedish or EU/EEA citizens.

In any case, this is an important piece of legislation which will affect many people who want or need to move to Sweden in future, as well as people currently resident.

What happens next?

The members of the committee will now comment on the proposal, which hasn't yet been published in full. The committee will then, by August 15th at the latest, hand over the full report including any dissenting opinions (the Green Party has already criticised it, telling Ekot the policy is “inhumane”).

The next step would normally be that the government sends a potential bill out for a consultation round, after which it may decide to put it to parliament for a vote. Only after that would there be a law change.

However, since the Green Party opposes many of the proposals in the report, its representative told the TT news agency that it would want fresh negotiations between the Social Democrats as well as the Centre and Liberal parties (the four parties behind the January Agreement) before a bill is submitted to parliament.

The Local will keep reporting on the new proposals, and other issues that affect immigrants in Sweden, as soon as we know more. You can always contact our editorial team on [email protected] – we receive a lot of emails and may not be able to reply to all, but we read every single one. Your questions, thoughts and feedback help guide our editorial coverage on the issues that matter to international residents in Sweden.

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