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BREXIT

Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?

December 31st is the last day to apply for post-Brexit residence status in Sweden, and in some cases it may be worth applying even if you hold Swedish citizenship.

Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?
The main difference between residence status and citizenship relates to which family members can join you. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

British citizens are eligible for citizenship in Sweden if they have had legal residence in the country for at least five years (or three, in certain circumstances where they have lived with a Swedish partner) and meet the requirement of having “conducted themselves well”, in other words not committed serious crimes or racked up significant debt.

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, there has been a surge in the number of Brits applying for citizenship in Sweden.

The two statuses are different. Swedish citizenship grants you certain additional rights such as being able to vote in elections and work for the army or police, and it can never be revoked, meaning you retain the right to live and work in Sweden (and other EU countries) even if you leave Sweden.

The new post-Brexit permanent residence status, despite the name, can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than five consecutive years, or if you are deported or expelled from Sweden (the latter usually only happens in the case of very serious crimes). Permanent residence is specific to Sweden, so Brits with this status will retain the rights they had as an EU citizen to live and work in Sweden, but if they want to move to another EU country, they must follow the procedures for third country nationals, usually involving a work permit.

But even if you are eligible for Swedish citizenship, it may be worth applying for the post-Brexit residence status as well.

Firstly, if you have applied for Swedish citizenship but not yet received a decision, it’s important to apply for the post-Brexit status too. Sweden has long processing times for citizenship applications, and it is difficult to predict how long any individual application will take. Having an in-progress citizenship application is not enough to secure your right to live and work in Sweden after December 31st, 2021.

Secondly, there is one area in which the post-Brexit residence status grants more generous rights than Swedish citizenship, and it’s an area that may affect a lot of foreigners.

“The advantage of residency status is that certain family members of British citizens with residency status have the right to join their British family member in Sweden afterwards (ie after the end of the application period) and can then apply for residency status. In such cases, they have three months to apply from the time they arrived in Sweden,” a press communicator for the Migration Agency confirmed to The Local.

“Family members of people with British-Swedish citizenship, on the other hand, need a residence permit, but British citizens with Swedish citizenship can also apply for residence status and thus make it easier for their family members.”

This right applies to spouses, long-term partners, unmarried children under 21, as well as other close family relations if they can prove financial dependence on their British relative in Sweden. People in this category will be able to move to Sweden even after the end of 2021 and apply for residency status granting them the same rights as their British family member, in other words the right to access Swedish healthcare, live and work in Sweden. More information is available on the agency’s website. This is significantly more lenient than the current process for family members of Swedish citizens, who are required to apply for a residence permit if they wish to join their partner or parent.

The Local asked the Migration Agency if there were any other rights conferred by the post-Brexit residence status that were not conferred by citizenship. We were told: “No, the simpler possibility for family members to join their British family member in Sweden is the advantage of residence status compared to a Swedish citizenship.”

Brits, including British-Swedish dual nationals, now have until the end of December 2021 to apply for the post-Brexit residence status after the agency extended the deadline. The application is free, and applicants simply need to prove they have had right of residence of Sweden before December 31st, 2020 (when the transition period ended).

Member comments

  1. I am confused by this because the migrationsverket e-service asks “For what reasons you have had residence for 5 consecutive years, with the following answers:
    Employee
    Self-employed
    Student
    Person with sufficient means of subsistence
    Family member or guardian of a British citizen in Sweden (I summarise the last 5 categories to this)
    But this excludes all us British citizens that were granted residency because we accompanied a Swedish citizen to Sweden (i.e like me who married a Swede and moved here).
    So I cannot proceed….it probably makes no difference but I was doing it anyway to get all the rights I can! I’ll just satisfy myself with meagre dual citizenship 😋

  2. Could you please write the same article but for Denmark? We need to convince as many dual nationals to apply as possible. I’m also concerned that people applying for citizenship think they don’t need to apply for the new card, leaving them at risk of losing their legal residency after the end of the year.

  3. I’ve read this article half-a-dozen times and still don’t understand how someone with Swedish citizenship that they acquired in addition to their original citizenship can apply for ‘residency status’ when their acquired citizenship automatically gives them the right to residency.

    I can understand the difference in rights regarding the residency of family members joining the British person in Sweden, but still can’t get my head round how a (new) Swedish citizen can also apply for residency status. Surely once you have obtained Swedish citizenship you can’t also apply for Swedish residency status because you already have it through your citizenship. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

    1. Hi Tony,
      I wrote an article answering your question here: https://www.thelocal.se/20211011/reader-question-can-british-swedish-dual-citizens-apply-for-post-brexit-status/
      In short, you can apply, if you also qualify for residency under EU rules, but you don’t have to. In this case you would just apply as usual and you can state in the “other information” section of your application that you’re a dual citizen. The only benefit is the right for other family members (such as parents or children over 21) to be able to move to you or visit visa-free.
      Let me know if you have any other questions,
      Becky

  4. I dont want to repeat the above questions, but..
    I have dual citizenship, UK and Swedish. I have been living and working in Sweden for 9 years. I recieved my Swedish citizenship 2 years ago.

    Should I apply for residency status? I dont want to loose any rights but do not want to repeat of the stress it took to get my citizenship.

    I have started the e application (Swedish Migration Agency) for residence status and got to a message “You are filling in an application for residence status as a Swedish citizen. In order to proceed with your case, we need to register your personal data in the aliens database”.

    This made me stop and think. If I dont need it do I need to continue?

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For members

EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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