Sweden proposes language requirement for would-be citizens

Sweden proposes language requirement for would-be citizens
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, right, and former supreme administrative court justice Mari Andersson who led the inquiry. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
People applying for Swedish citizenship should be required to show proof of Swedish language skills and understanding of the Swedish society, according to a new inquiry.

Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson presented details of an inquiry into the proposals on Wednesday morning.

“Language is the key to work, but also the key to society,” said Johansson as he outlined why the government thought it needed to find “a better balance between rights and responsibilities” for would-be citizens.

Foreign nationals applying to become Swedish would need proof of Swedish skills at A2 level for speaking and writing, the second lowest out of six levels on the Common European Framework of Reference, and B1 for reading and listening.

To take the test, it would cost 500 kronor ($60) for the section relating to civil society and 2,000 kronor for the language component.

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Citizenship applicants could alternatively provide proof of passing Grade 9 in a Swedish high school, or a course at upper secondary school, or the highest level of the Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) course.

The language requirements would apply to people aged between 16 and 66 who apply for Swedish citizenship, but certain exceptions are proposed, including for people with certain disabilities or those who are from a vulnerable background – for example being stateless or illiterate – who can prove they have tried to reach the required knowledge level but been unsuccessful.

Citizens of other Nordic countries who live in Sweden would also be exempted, as they are subject to a different process and are only required to notify authorities, rather than apply, in order to receive citizenship.

The proposals were put together based on reviewing the processes in place in other European countries, of which only three including Sweden do not currently require a language test.

But the details aren't finalised yet. The next stage is to send the proposals out for consultation from relevant authorities, and they may be adapted depending on the responses received. Then a proposal would need to be passed by parliament and work to begin on putting together the tests.

“This is a reasonable proposal and we hope that it can be put into place as soon as possible, but of course this is a large organisational challenge,” said Johansson.

The government committed to investigating language tests for citizenship applicants in the cross-bloc deal struck with the Centre and Liberal parties, whose support the Social Democrat-Green coalition needed to form a government.

Separately, the government is looking into whether language skills should be required for permanent residence in Sweden.

Swedish vocabulary

citizenship – (ett) medborgarskap

language – (ett) språk

(government) inquiry – (en) utredning

requirement – (ett) krav

authority – (en) myndighet


Member comments

  1. John – did you bother to read the report? Would you bother if it was published by rags such as the Guardian or New York Times? Springer is the largest publishing house in Europe and the tone of the report is very balanced. As mentioned in my original post, my concern is with trends associated with an open-door immigration policy. Here’s a quote:

    This article is based on statistical material from the Crime Prevention Agency, using the same method as the agency in order to update the material to 2017. For the first time, the majority of those registered as crime suspects are foreign-born. The proportion of those with a foreign background increase from 18% between 1985 and 1989 to 33% between 2013 and 2017. During these two time intervals, the proportion of crime suspects with a foreign background went up from 31% to 58%.

    Can you see a trend here, John?

  2. I agree with Hazel. I’ve lived 20+ years in increasingly multi-ethnic Gothenburg. With every year that passes it reminds me more and more comfortably of the multi-ethnic towns and cities where I grew up in England – London, Brighton, Leeds, Birmingham. Immigration saves a country from inbreeding and small-mindedness. It contributes verve, enterprise and ideas. As for Britfire’s *one* report, I note it comes from the Springer press. Trusting them om this subject is a bit like trusting The Daily Mail or the New York Post.

  3. Hazel – you must live a long way from the immigrant ghettoes created by misguided politicians, perhaps in a world populated by unicorns and fairies? Cloudberry is absolutely correct – untrammelled migration has been a disaster for many European cities and towns. There are many maladjusted immigrants in Sweden, one report attributes 73% of murders, 70% of robberies and 73% of gang rape to them. Murders in Sweden have quadrupled due to excessive migration – do these figures mean anything to you, Hazel? Feel free to read the report here, it’s very disturbing:
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12115-019-00436-8
    When are we going to say enough is enough?

  4. Oh…I find this comment really upsetting!This seems to be a very strange and sad attitude….Why should every country only be for the benefit of its “own” people, first and foremost? (Who gets to decide who those people are?) How terribly sad to think of Sweden NOT being a welcoming centre for anyone who just wishes to come and live here!

  5. I think this makes a lot of sense, but I would also add people who are refugees and stateless to the list – in fact, anyone wishing to live in Sweden. Every country should be for the benefit of its own people, first and foremost, and not a welcoming centre for anyone who just wishes to come and live in it. Also, the nation should be extremely strict about those who come from other countries, inasmuch as if the individual commits a felony, they should face deportation.

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