“We have far too many people in Sweden who lack the language skills and lack knowledge of Swedish society,” he told TT newswire at the press conference.
“If you want to live here, you need that.”
Those applying for permanent residency in Sweden have had to fulfil special requirements, such as being able to support themselves, since July 2021. Now, the government is proposing to tighten up these requirements further.
Ygeman stated that the reason behind the proposal is not for fewer people to be granted residence permits, even though it may have that effect.
“Obviously if you set the bar this high, fewer people will be granted residence permits,” he said.
“But this is about people who want to live in Sweden knowing what is required of them.”
How the tests will be carried out is unclear, but the government wants the language and knowledge about Sweden to be combined as one test.
The proposed language level required is the equivalent of level C at SFI (Swedish for immigrants), which means a fairly high ability to speak, listen, read and write Swedish in “ordinary situations” in everyday life, study and work life.
Children or very old people who cannot be expected to learn what is needed are proposed to be exempted from the new rules.
Maria Malmer Stenergard, a Moderate party spokesperson on migration issues, was not impressed by the measure: “The Social Democrats are once again doing what they are best at and appointing an inquiry when what is needed are concrete proposals… language is a crucial part of integration,” she said.