Immigration For Members

EXPLAINED: Who will be affected by Sweden's new immigration policy?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Who will be affected by Sweden's new immigration policy?
Photo: Lena Granefelt/

Are you already in Sweden? Are you wondering whether changes to citizenship and work permits are likely to affect you, or when they will come into effect? Here's what we know so far about who will be affected.


How does Sweden’s new government want to change migration policy?

The right bloc's coalition agreement, the Tidö Agreement, mentions tougher work permit requirements, a longer qualifying period for citizenship and abolishing permanent residency, among other things. The agreement details the bloc's policies for the next four years. You can read all the proposed policy changes in our article on the document here.


When will these changes come into force?

The short answer to this question is "probably a few years, but we can't be sure". The long answer to this question requires a bit of explanation into how the Swedish legislative system works.

First off, a law needs to go through six stages before it can be voted on in parliament. These are the directive, inquiry, final inquiry report, consultation, and draft bill stages, after which bills need to be checked and adapted by the lagrådet, or Council on Legislation.

By far, the most time-consuming stage of this process is the inquiry, which can take years, depending on the issue. It's rarely shorter than a year, and can be much longer (for example, the inquiry in to introducing tests on language and cultural knowledge for citizenship took over a year and a half. It was started in October 2019 and ended in July 2021). 


Another stage which can be time-consuming is the consultation stage, which is often around 3 months. But, again, this can be shorter or longer.

The other stages in the legislative process usually take place relatively quickly. But as a general rule, it takes about two years from a law being proposed (as in, formally proposed by parliament issuing a directive), to it being voted on in parliament, so we can expect to see these laws reaching the vote in parliament around the end of 2024.

Some laws take longer. The proposed law on introducing language and cultural knowledge tests for citizenship was proposed three years ago at this article was written in October 2022 and has still not been approved by parliament.

The parties in the right-wing bloc behind the Tidö Agreement have said that they aim to get most of their policy through within the current mandate period, meaning that they're hoping these proposals will become law before the next election in September 2026.

Will my citizenship or permanent residency be revoked?

Under current rules, once you have citizenship, you can't lose it. New proposals will make it possible for your citizenship to be taken away (if you have dual citizenship), but that will only apply if you commit "system-threatening crimes", or if your Swedish citizenship was granted based on fraudulent or incorrect information.

So, it won't be revoked if you don't fulfil new requirements such as passing a language or culture test, or if you haven't lived in Sweden for long enough to qualify under new citizenship rules.

For permanent residency, it's a bit unclear and also depends on what sort of permanent residency you have.

Under current rules, your permanent residency can be revoked - if you leave Sweden - after one or two years, depending on the kind of residence document you have.


The Tidö Agreement is unclear on whether permanent residency will be scrapped for all immigrants in Sweden, or just for asylum seekers, but the text on what will happen to current permanent residence holders states that "an inquiry will look into the conditions in which current permanent residency could be changed, for example by giving affected residence permit holders realistic opportunities to achieve citizenship within a limited time period".

Current permanent residence permit holders could, for example, be allowed to keep their residency until they qualify for and are awarded citizenship. 

It remains to be seen how the law will treat those with permanent residency who come from countries which do not allow dual citizenship, or those with who lack the required income or who have insufficient knowledge of Swedish language or culture. 

A Migration Department official wrote in a message to SVT in November that "an investigation will look into in what circumstances existing permanent residence permits (permanent uppehållstillstånd), could be turned into temporary residence permits", suggesting that even those who have permanent residence permits could have these revoked and instead be checked every few years to ensure they still meet residence permit requirements.


Could I lose my work permit?

The new coalition government wants to raise the minimum wage for work permits to the level of a median salary in Sweden.

This is currently 33,200 kronor, meaning the measure will quite drastically reduce the number of people coming to Sweden to work. The current minimum wage for work permit applicants is 13,000 kronor a month before tax.

Again, these laws are expected to take at least two years to be passed. Work permits are awarded for two years at a time in Sweden, meaning that your current work permit will most likely run out before these laws come into effect.

The more interesting question here is how the new proposals affect your next work permit, when you renew it in the next two years.

If you apply for a work permit which is approved between now and the new law coming into effect, it is unlikely that you will have to supplement your already-approved permit with proof that your salary was above the new minimum level.

If, however, you apply for a work permit which is not approved by the time the new law comes into effect, your application could end up being subject to the new rules retroactively, meaning you would need to earn the new minimum salary in order to qualify, despite applying under current rules.

It's maybe worth adding that there are some changes to work permits already in the pipeline, such as a reintroduction of labour market testing, which the outgoing Social Democrat government proposed in June 2022. It is unclear what will become of this inquiry, and it's most likely that the government will not take the proposals forward in a bill. 


I've already applied for citizenship. Will the new rules apply to my application?

Waits for citizenship applications are currently as high as 39 months, much longer than the two years you should expect it to take for the for new laws to be passed.

In addition, some changes to citizenship rules are already in the pipeline, such as introducing language and culture tests for applicants. Unlike the last government's work permit reforms, these changes probably will be pushed forward by the new government, so these could become law sooner.

It's not clear whether changes to citizenship would apply retroactively or not, especially rules on the duration of your stay in Sweden before you qualify for citizenship.

Would applicants for citizenship have their applications rejected, despite qualifying for citizenship under the rules in place when they applied? Would their applications be approved on the condition they fulfil the residency requirement? Would applications, as one Moderate MP suggested, even be paused until new citizenship rules can come into effect?

It's not yet clear, but if you're worried about the rules becoming more restrictive, you want to become a Swedish citizen ,and you qualify for citizenship but have not yet applied, it may be a good idea to get your application in sooner rather than later. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do so.


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