Sweden appoints new Migration Agency director-general

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Sweden appoints new Migration Agency director-general
Maria Mindhammar spoke about her new role as director-general of Sweden's Migration Agency at a press conference. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The head of Sweden's unemployment agency will take over as new director-general of the Migration Agency.


Maria Mindhammar will assume her new position on September 18th under a six-year contract, Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard announced on Wednesday.

She will take over from Mikael Ribbenvik, who was forced out as director-general earlier this year after the newly elected right-wing government said it wanted “a new pair of eyes” to execute its so-called “paradigm shift” which is set to tighten Swedish migration laws.

Ribbenvik led the agency through a stormy period following the 2015 refugee crisis and took flak from both the left and the right, with some criticising the agency for overly bureaucratic decision-making, and others like far-right Sweden Democrat Björn Söder labelling him an “asylum activist”.

Mindhammar was careful not to be pushed into either corner, and declined to answer several questions from journalists that risked being interpreted as a comment on political issues.

“I am and have always been an apolitical civil servant,” she said, adding that if she had opinions on the viability of any government proposals, she would discuss them directly with Malmer Stenergard.


A trained lawyer, Mindhammar is currently director-general of the Swedish Public Employment Service, and has previously worked for a series of Swedish public agencies, including the Tax Agency, the Enforcement Authority and the National Agency for Education.

The government’s migration “paradigm shift”, which involves a host of planned law changes, is a central part of the coalition’s Tidö Agreement with the far-right Sweden Democrats.

Malmer Stenergard said that she had been in charge of the recruitment process.

“But given how much of the Tidö Agreement has to be implemented by the Migration Agency, I’ve made sure that all parties behind the agreement have confidence in the new management,” she added.


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