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Inside Sweden For Members

Inside Sweden: Migration paradigm shift gains speed with changing residency rules

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Inside Sweden: Migration paradigm shift gains speed with changing residency rules
Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Sweden's new work permit salary requirement and the launch of an inquiry to bring asylum laws down to the EU minimum were some of The Local's biggest stories this week.

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Sweden’s migration paradigm shift, as the government has taken to calling it, gained speed this week, when the first step to revoking permanent residency for some immigrants was launched and more details about a new salary threshold for work permits were released.

We’ve already had more than 250 responses to a survey about how non-EU workers will be affected by the higher salary threshold and many of them are heart-wrenching to read. The Local wants to help tell your story, so if you’re affected by this change, let us know.

People create roots in Sweden in different ways. For some, their stay was always meant to be temporary or flexible, and they’ll be able to quickly start up a career in another country.

For others, it only took a few years to call Sweden home.

They’ve bought or are renting an apartment. Their children are in school. They’ve learned the language, paid tax, worked hard and done everything they thought they were supposed to do.

But from November 1st, if they don’t earn more than 80 percent of Sweden’s median salary, they will not be able to renew their work permit. The higher threshold also applies to pending applications, regardless of how long you’ve waited for a decision. A change of rules mid-game.

Sweden’s previous salary threshold was 13,000 kronor a month and now it’s being more than doubled.

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While 13,000 kronor is very low and, if full time, probably does mean you’re being exploited (which is what the higher threshold ostensibly intends to clamp down on), there are plenty of jobs that pay a few thousands short of the new threshold and are still in line with Swedish union standards.

We’ve been contacted by a lot of highly educated readers whose current job is well below their qualifications but who are using it as an opportunity to for example learn Swedish before they can work as what they really trained for (the inflexibility of the work permit system also tends to lock people into one job – before you get permanent residency it’s hard to change jobs or careers).

And we’ve been contacted by a lot of readers who like their job. They don’t feel taken advantage of and despite the salary not quite reaching the new threshold, they’re perfectly able to lead a decent life on their income. They’ve been working in Sweden for years and are contributing just as much as anyone else.

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Also this week, the government ordered a new inquiry to bring Sweden’s asylum rules to the “EU legal minimum” which is perhaps the cornerstone of the Tidö Agreement, the deal that allowed the current right-wing coalition to take office with the support of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The inquiry is supposed to examine how the law can be changed to stop asylum seekers getting permanent residency. It will also look into how permanent residency can be stripped away from refugees who have already been awarded it, or recalled if the situation in their home country changes so they are no longer considered to be at risk, and look at ways of restricting resources such as interpreters.

Readers may remember that this was discussed last year, and the inquiry is the first formal step towards changing the law. This is expected to take a while. The inquiry chair has until the start of 2025 to submit her conclusions, and there are a few more rounds to go before it becomes law.

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In other news

Here are three articles that I really thought were worth reading this week:

If it’s one thing you quickly realise when you start hunting for an apartment in Sweden – especially a city like Stockholm, where they are hard to come by and competition is fierce – it’s that a lot of the ads you see online are scams. They range from the totally blatant to more insidious ones.

The Local’s reader Jasmin Adolph fell victim to the latter kind when she landed an internship in Stockholm, paid a deposit to a landlord who seemed legit, only to discover after she had arrived in the city that the apartment she and her friend were supposed to move into… simply didn’t exist.

Sweden should protect its fantastic popular education organisations, argues The Local’s Nordic Editor Richard Orange, who set up his own computer programming class with the help of ABF.

“What is best about Sweden's studieförbund system is that if there's something you as a foreigner want to learn about or do, some event or activity you think should exist, all you need to do is get in touch and they will help make it happen,” he writes, urging Sweden not to let them die out.

As the size of Indian communities in Sweden, Denmark and Norway have grown, so has the scale of celebrations for festivals like Durga Puja, which gets under way later this month. The festival celebrates Durga, one of the aspects of the Hindu mother goddess Mahadevi, and is also an excuse to get together with friends – perhaps even more so when you’re in another country like Sweden.

The Local spoke to some of the organisers to find out more about what to expect.

Take care,

Emma Löfgren

Editor, The Local Sweden

Inside Sweden is our weekly newsletter for members that gives you news, analysis and, sometimes, takes you behind the scenes at The Local. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences.

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