Sweden’s new migration law comes into forceSvetoslav Stefanov
Sweden's new migration legislation comes into effect on 20 July, replacing temporary legislation introduced five years ago to bring down the unprecedented number of asylum requests at the time, news wires reported. The bill, which was put forward by the government in late April, was approved by the parliament in June.
One part of the new law, for example, makes residence permits for asylum seekers limited in time instead of permanent. Since the temporary law was introduced temporary permits have been the norm in Sweden, but before that permanent permits were the default since 1984. It also brings in exceptions from family maintenance requirements for Swedish and EU/EEA citizens who wish to bring their partner to Sweden.
A requirement for Swedish language skills in order to receive a permanent residence permit was floated as part of the legislative work on the migration bill, but this hasn’t made it into law. The original proposal states that these should be introduced at some point, but they are not yet an official requirement, so it is unclear how these skills will be tested and measured.
Initially, the plan was to pass a law that had a broader political consensus behind it. A Migration Committee was set up with representatives from each party and a mandate to come up with ideas for a “humane, legally certain and effective” migration policy to replace the temporary laws introduced in 2016.
But the talks were fraught, with immigration a core issue for most of the parties and widely disparate views on the best way forward. So the proposals brought forward by the committee were less extensive than expected; after cross-party talks broke down, the final report was made up of more than 20 proposals rather than a comprehensive policy, each one supported by a different combination of parties.
The junior government coalition partner, the Green Party, was not happy with many of the proposals, in particular a proposed cap on the number of asylum seekers who can enter Sweden each year.
So the government put forward a new bill, based on the committee’s suggestions but with some notable differences, including no cap on asylum seeker numbers. The Green Party also pushed through rules that mean that people who are not eligible for asylum may in some cases be allowed to stay in Sweden on compassionate grounds.