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How will the 2024 budget affect foreigners in Sweden?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
How will the 2024 budget affect foreigners in Sweden?
Swedish money. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Foreigners in Sweden are affected by many aspects of the budget to the same extent as Swedes, but are there any proposals which are particularly relevant for immigrants living in the country?



One of the most obvious proposals in the new budget which will directly affect many foreigners - in particular, recent arrivals to the country - is the government’s plans to strengthen teaching in the Swedish for immigrants (SFI) language classes aimed at new arrivals at a cost of 140 million kronor.

This will be a welcome proposal for many, as a recent report in May 2023 determined that just one in five SFI classes provided good quality teaching to students.

It’s not clear from the budget how exactly the government is planning to strengthen teaching, other than introducing “greater requirements and higher quality”, including for example a requirement for providers to better gauge students’ Swedish skills in SFI classes, as well as documentation of municipalities’ efforts to encourage their non-Swedish residents to take part in SFI.

It also proposes extending support offered to municipalities offering SFI to Ukrainian refugees.

Cutting state support to ethnic organisations

Sweden's government has announced plans to withdraw funding from ethnic associations, arguing that these groups do little to promote integration.

More specifically, this consists of a 18.9 million budget cut to state grants offered to groups like the Swedish-Kurdish Association, the Gambian Association and the Association of Serbian Orthodox women.

In an article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Sweden’s employment and integration minister Johan Pehrson said that 10 million kronor of money saved would be used to fund a scheme to survey children's Swedish skills. 


Increasing employment

There are many immigrants in Sweden who are on work permits, but it remains the case that those born outside of Sweden statistically make up a high percentage of Sweden’s unemployed population – as much as 50 percent, according to the budget proposition.

In order to improve unemployment rates among foreigners, the government has proposed creating more study places on vocational courses at a cost of 1.77 billion kronor, and a “more effective labour market policy”, although it’s not clear what exactly that means.

Lowering tax for low and medium earners

The government has in its new budget proposed tax cuts for workers, aimed particularly at those earning 38,000 kronor or less.

According to the government, a couple who are each earning the minimum salary under trade union Kommunal's collective bargaining agreement, 20,220 kronor per month, would pay 5,600 kronor less tax each year under the new policy, while a family consisting of a police officer and a nurse would pay 14,000 kronor less in tax.

It has not yet presented any more details as to how this tax credit will be applied, so it is difficult at this point to say to what extent exactly it will benefit the average worker in Sweden.

This will cost 11 billion kronor, which will be financed by pausing an automatic tax cut for higher earners.


Attracting highly-educated foreigners

In order to make Sweden a more attractive option for highly-educated foreigners with the key skills Sweden needs, the government is proposing extending the so-called “expert tax”, which gives tax relief to foreign workers deemed to have these skills. 

This expert tax currently allows key skilled workers to pay less tax for five years, with the government proposing extending the offering to seven years.

On top of this, the government has earmarked 330 million kronor for funding more engineers, set to increase to 500 million in 2025 and 640 million in 2026.

Building more homes

Another important issue for foreigners is housing, as many more recent arrivals to the country don’t have the same chances of getting a cheap apartment via a municipal housing queue, which can have a queue time of years or even decades.

In order to address Sweden’s lack of housing, the government plans to “simplify the rules on the housing market so that building can increase and more buildable land can be made available”.

However, it may not be enough to solve the construction crisis in the short term.


Healthcare and cutting hospital queues

The government has also proposed 2 billion kronor to fund new measures to cut hospital queues by setting up a “national care mediator”, as well as new funding for healthcare (3 billion kronor), new funding aimed at cancer treatment and women’s health (740 million kronor), and strengthening current work to improve mental health treatment (100 million kronor).

It also proposes launching an inquiry into changing the current high-cost protection for dental care to make it more affordable, bringing it more in line with the high-cost protection system for other healthcare.

Improving schooling

Those of The Local's readers with children of school age in Sweden may also be interested in the government’s proposals on schooling.

Here, the government has pledged to improve results and give all students the “the opportunity to reach their full potential”. This includes providing better conditions for workers in schools with “socioeconomic challenges” (170 million kronor), “measures to fix quality issues in schools” (210 million) and a campaign to prioritise reading, writing and maths skills at an early age (180 million).


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