Swedish immigration law: updates from 1 June 2022

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Lena Rekdal
Nimmersion, Stockholm

Rozeta Zlattinger
Nimmersion, Stockholm

On 1 June 2022, the Swedish Parliament introduced new updates to the immigration law. The newly introduced changes aim to discourage criminal activities and prevent companies from engaging in salary dumping. They also maintain trade unions’ level of workers’ protection and interest. Moreover, the law is presented as an additional level of protection against human trafficking. Amendments to the law are expected to be introduced in 2023. It should be noted that these changes have lengthened, and will continue to lengthen the application processing times substantially for work permits by the Swedish Migration Agency.

The fast-track processing for previously vouched employers essentially no longer exists. Approvals take months, even for first-time work permits, which should have taken up to ten days. Application processing has increased to several months rather than a couple of weeks. There’s no indication of when the situation will return to normal. One of several reasons is that the law has been implemented retroactively, so the balance of pending applications needs to be dealt with.

​​​​​​​Key changes introduced

  • A signed employment contract must be presented as part of the application. Swedish employers usually include a six-month probation clause as part of the contract resulting in the Migration Agency will only grant a work permit for six months, even if the time period sought is the full 24 months. This means that an employee will not be able to get fully locally registered until up to a year or more, depending on the time the work permit renewal takes to get a decision. Currently, the timeline is four to six months. The work permit holder will not have access to healthcare, day care, or any social services normally included for taxpayers.

  • Employees that have lengthy work permit extensions can apply for a D-visa to travel for business purposes during the processing period. Family members are not included, nor is travel for personal reasons.

  • Starting employment within four months of the work permit validity should no longer be a cause for denial of work permit extension, and eventually permanent residency. We do not yet know whether a permit for an additional two-year permit will be issued instead, or if a permanent residence permit will be granted going forward. The new legislation is somewhat ambiguous and may lend to various interpretations by different Migration Agency case officers. This in practice would result in different decisions for similar cases.
  • Removing the four-year limit for work permits and allowing a permits to be extended should the applicant decide not to opt for permanent residency. The Migration Agency can only grant permanent residency if a valid work permit has been held for at least four years.
  • Permanent residency is no longer available for adult family members of work permit holders who do not have employment and cannot provide for themselves. The income of the head applicant is not taken into consideration. This change was introduced during the Aliens Act amendments in July 2021.
  • More minor omissions in the employment terms shall not be cause for deportation. This is to counter kompetensutvisning which means the ‘deportation of talents’.
  • If terms of employment deteriorate, the employer has an obligation to report this to the Swedish Migration Agency. Employers may be required to provide proof of the terms of employment. Refusal to comply will result in fines.
  • A newly introduced visa allows highly educated persons to live and stay in Sweden for nine months looking for a job or setting up a company. Proof of the ability to support oneself (and family, if applicable) is required along with private medical care insurance.
  • Introduction of a maintenance requirement for families tied to foreign labour. New requirements are comparable to the ones already applied for other family reunification cases. The rules will be closer to those that apply to other family immigration, but without the requirement for housing of a certain size and standard. However, leases are required as part of the application in many cases and always in the case of permanent residency. The lease also needs to be ongoing for at least 18 months. This is a problem as building associations typically only grant sublets for 12 months at a time.

Summary of the new law’s provisions

  • introducing a new type of residence permit;
  • application times and additional requirements result in considerably longer processing of cases;
  • the fast track is essentially non-existent;
  • intention for leniency towards administrative mistakes; and
  • stricter demands on employers.