Post-Brexit residence status: Sweden rejects more Brits than any other EU country

Figures issued by the European Commission reveal that Sweden rejected over 10 percent of applications for post-Brexit residence status, the highest rejection rate per number of applicants than any other EU country.

Post-Brexit residence status: Sweden rejects more Brits than any other EU country
Over 1 in 10 Brits applying for residence status had their applications rejected. Photo: Virginia Mayo/AP/TT

How many applications has Sweden rejected?

The Swedish Migration Agency received 12,700 applications for post-Brexit residence status before the December 31st deadline. Of these, 9,900 had been concluded by January 24th 2022, when the European Commission’s report was published.

Of the 9,900 concluded applications, 1,100 were rejected (figures are rounded to the nearest 100 except for numbers below 500). This represents a rejection rate of just over 11 percent. This includes 149 applications which were rejected as being incomplete.

It is not clear as to whether this figure includes duplicate applications or rejected applicants who reapplied at a later date and were successful.

“We don’t know anything about whether the figure given includes people who successfully reapplied at a second attempt. I would presume not, as people who were refused would appeal, not apply again, so I’m not sure why there would be a second application,” Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe, an organisation working for the rights of Brits in Europe, told The Local.

“There is a note that says that incomplete applications are included in the total number of refusals, but what that means is not clear. And there is no note saying that the successful applications include second attempts. We only know what it says in the table. Only France mentions duplicates i.e. where people have made the same application twice. There is no note about duplicates in Sweden,” Golding continued.

How does this compare with other countries?

EU countries could choose whether to grant post-Brexit residence status under a constitutive system (applicants had to apply directly to government agencies to be awarded residence status), or a declaratory system (applicants’ rights were not dependent on a government decision).

Sweden chose to grant post-Brexit residence rights under a constitutive system.

Other countries using this system who reported a similar number of concluded applications are Belgium (9,600) and Malta (10,600). These countries rejected 131 and 40 applications respectively, giving them a rejection rate of 1.3 percent (Belgium) and 0.4 percent (Malta). The highest percentage of rejections after Sweden was reported by France, who had concluded 164,900 applications, of which 3,500 were rejected, giving them a rejection rate of 2.1 percent. The majority of countries who chose to use a constitutive system rejected less than one percent of applications.

Among countries who chose to use a declaratory system, the highest rate of rejection was in Ireland, who rejected 117 of 2,000 concluded applications (5.8 percent). The next-highest rate of rejection was in Poland, who rejected 3.1 percent of applications (107 of a total of 3,400) then Spain, who rejected 3,400 of 180,000 applications (1.8 percent), followed by Czechia, who rejected 22 of 1,800 applications (1.2 percent). All other countries in this group rejected less than one percent of applications.

These figures do not include applications withdrawn by the applicant, incomplete applications, or applications which are otherwise void.

READ ALSO: How many Britons in EU acquired post-Brexit residency and how many were refused?

Why were applications rejected?

Rejected applications are described in the report as “outside the personal scope or negative criminality check”.

“Outside the personal scope” in this context refers to those who are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement – this could, for example, include those who moved to their host country for the first time after December 31st 2020.

Other reasons for rejection could be those who do not fulfil criteria to be classed as legally resident in their host country under the Withdrawal Agreement. This could, for example, cover those who were not employed, self-employed, self-sufficient, students or jobseekers in the first five years of residence in their host country.

“Negative criminality check” refers to clauses in the Withdrawal Agreement allowing member states to restrict right of residence if an individual’s personal conduct “poses a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to public policy or public security”, British in Europe explain.

The Local contacted the Swedish Migration Agency, responsible for processing applications for post-Brexit residence status, for comment on the high proportion of rejected applications, and received this response:

“The agency are aware of the issue. A large amount of cases which were rejected are those where the Migration Agency tried to contact the applicant for more details, without success,” a press officer said.

“If an application has been received and we have requested further details or tried to reach the applicant in another way but not received a response, the Migration Agency must reject the case according to administrative law. Another reason [for the high number of rejections] could be that different member states handle incorrect applications in different ways.”

“The Migration Agency reject incorrect applications and advise the applicant to apply on other grounds in cases where they have potential residence in another way (as a family member, worker etc.)”.

According to European Commission figures, 149 cases out of the 1100 total rejected cases were marked as “incomplete”. The Local has contacted the Migration Agency for clarification on possible reasons behind the 951 cases not included in this figure.

What can I do if my application was rejected?

If your application was rejected and you believe that you should have been granted residence status, you can launch an appeal to the Migration Agency. Your letter from the Migration Agency informing you that your application was rejected should include information on the deadline for launching an appeal, as well as what your appeal letter should include and who you should sent it to.

If you choose to appeal the Migration Agency’s rejection, they will consider whether they should change their decision, and if they do so, their new decision will be sent to the Migration Court. The Migration Court will then decide whether to approve the Migration Agency’s new decision.

Note that you cannot appeal a rejection after you have accepted it and signed a declaration of acceptance, or if the deadline for appeal has passed.

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Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.