Article from Ministry of Justice

Sustainable migration policy for the long term

Published

This is a summary of the report Sustainable migration policy for the long term (En långsiktigt hållbar migrationspolitik, SOU 2020:54) submitted by the Cross-party Committee of Inquiry on Migration to Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson 15 September 2020.

The Cross-party Committee of Inquiry on Migration was tasked with considering the shape of future Swedish migration policy, with a view to establishing a system that is sustainable in the long term. The starting point for the Committee’s remit was that migration policy must be humane, legally certain and effective.

The Committee was tasked with considering whether asylum seekers who meet the criteria for being granted Swedish residence permits should, as a general rule, be granted temporary residence permits or permanent residence permits and the duration of those permits, and the conditions under which permanent residence permits may be granted.

The Committee was also tasked with considering whether it should be possible to grant asylum seekers residence permits on additional grounds to those that follow from EU law and Swedish convention commitments and, if so, what those grounds should be, in particular considering whether a new humanitarian ground for granting residence permits should be introduced.

The Committee was also tasked with considering the extent to which family member immigration should be possible if the person to whom the alien cites ties has applied for asylum and been granted a Swedish residence permit, and whether a maintenance requirement should apply in cases of family member immigration and, if so, what form this requirement should take.

The Committee’s remit also included analysing the need for measures to ensure that a greater proportion of people coming to Sweden do so via safe and legal channels, and the need for additional measures to increase legal certainty in the asylum process. Below is a summary of the Committee’s proposals and conclusions.

Duration of residence permits

Temporary residence permits as a general rule

The Committee proposes that as a general rule, residence permits granted to persons in need of protection should be temporary at the time of the initial decision.  The Committee proposes that aliens admitted to Sweden as part of a decision issued by the Government on the transfer to Sweden of persons in need of protection (resettlement) be exempt from the general rule and be granted permanent residence permits immediately.

Work permits may be granted to persons in need of protection

The Committee concludes that work permits may be granted to persons in need of protection who receive temporary residence permits, and that no legislative amendments are necessary in this regard.

Duration of initial residence permits for refugees

The Committee proposes that initial residence permits granted to refugees should be temporary and valid for three years, unless compelling considerations of national security or public order require a shorter period of validity. The period of validity must not be shorter than one year.

Duration of extensions of residence permits for refugees

The Committee proposes that where subsequent residence permits are granted to refugees, the new permits should also be temporary. The new permits should be valid for two years.  If certain requirements are met, the Committee proposes that permanent residence permits may be granted upon application.

Duration of residence permits for persons eligible for  subsidiary protection

The Committee proposes that initial residence permits granted to persons eligible for subsidiary protection should be temporary and valid for 13 months.

Duration of first extensions of residence permits for persons eligible for subsidiary protection

The Committee proposes that where subsequent residence permits are granted to persons eligible for subsidiary protection, the new permits should also be temporary. The new permits should be valid for two years, unless compelling considerations of national security or public order require a shorter period of validity. The period of validity must not be shorter than one year.

Duration of further extensions of residence permits for persons  eligible for subsidiary protection

The Committee proposes that where further residence permits are granted to persons eligible for subsidiary protection, the new permits should also be temporary. The new permits should be valid for two years, unless compelling considerations of national security or public order require a shorter period of validity. The period of validity must not be shorter than one year.

If certain requirements are met, the Committee proposes that permanent residence permits may be granted upon application.

Permanent residence permits

Requirements for permanent residence permits

The Committee proposes that permanent residence permits should only be granted to aliens who meet the requirements of Swedishlanguage skills and civic knowledge, who can support themselves, and where there is no doubt, with regard to the alien’s expected way of life, that a permanent residence permit should be granted. A permanent residence permit should also be conditional on the alien having held a temporary Swedish residence permit for at least three years. 

Exemptions from the requirements for permanent residence permits

The Committee proposes that children and people who are entitled to receive a national pension or guarantee pension should be exempted from the requirements for permanent residence permits with respect to language skills, civic knowledge and maintenance. The lifestyle requirement should not be applied to people under the age of 15.

The Committee also proposes that others may be exempted from the requirements if there are exceptional grounds to do so.

Applications and appeals, etc.

The Committee proposes that it should only be possible to apply for a permanent residence permit in connection with the Swedish Migration Agency examining whether a temporary residence permit should be extended.

Furthermore, the Committee proposes that decisions not to grant permanent residence permits may be appealed.

Family member immigration

Residence permits on grounds of personal ties

The Committee proposes that if an alien has been granted a temporary residence permit and has good prospects of being granted a more lasting residence permit, residence permits should be granted to:

  • an alien who is the spouse or cohabiting partner of the alien;
  • a foreign unmarried child of the alien;
  • a foreign unmarried child whose parent is the spouse or cohabiting partner of the alien; and
  • an alien who in some way other than the above is a close family member of the alien, if he or she has been a member of the same household as that person and there is a special relationship of dependence between the relatives that already existed in the country of origin.

Duration of residence permits in cases of personal ties

The Committee proposes that residence permits granted on grounds of personal ties to an alien who has been granted a temporary residence permit should be valid for the same period as the sponsor’s residence permit.

If a subsequent residence permit is granted, the new permit should be temporary and valid for two years. However, the permit must not be valid for a longer period than that of the sponsor.

If a further subsequent residence permit is granted, the new permit should be temporary and valid for two years. If certain requirements are met, upon application a permanent residence permit may be granted instead, but at the earliest after three years of holding a Swedish residence permit.

Possibility to refuse residence permits in cases of personal ties

The Committee proposes that a residence permit may be refused to:

  • an alien who is a spouse or cohabiting partner of someone who is resident in Sweden or has been granted a Swedish residence permit, or
  • a foreign child who is unmarried and has a parent who is the spouse or cohabiting partner of someone who is resident in Sweden or has been granted a Swedish residence permit

if either of the spouses or cohabiting partners is under 21 years of age. 

Maintenance requirement in cases of family member immigration

Maintenance requirement in cases of family member immigration

The Committee proposes that, as a general rule, a maintenance requirement should be imposed as a condition of residence permits on grounds of personal ties.

Form of the maintenance requirement

The Committee proposes that the maintenance requirement should mean that the sponsor must be able to support both themselves and their family member, and have a home of an adequate size and standard for themselves and the family member.

Furthermore, the Committee proposes that the maintenance requirement should not be applied when examining applications for an extension of a residence permit on grounds of personal ties.

Exemptions from the maintenance requirement

The Committee proposes that the maintenance requirement should not be applied if:

  • the sponsor is a child;
  • the applicant is a child born in Sweden, and the person to whom the child cites personal ties is the child’s parent and lives with the child in Sweden;
  • the sponsor is a citizen of Sweden, another EEA state, Switzerland or the United Kingdom and the applicant is their spouse or cohabiting partner, and the alien and the sponsor have cohabited for a long time in another country or it is clear in some other way that the relationship is well-established.

The Committee also proposes that if the sponsor has been granted a residence permit as, or been declared, a refugee or person eligible for subsidiary protection, the maintenance requirement should only apply if:

  • the residence permit application is submitted more than three months after the sponsor was granted a residence permit as, or was declared, a refugee or person eligible for subsidiary protection;
  • family reunification is possible in a country outside the EU to which the family has special ties; or
  • the alien and the sponsor have not cohabited for a long time in another country and it is not clear in some other way that the relationship is well-established.

The Committee also proposes that the maintenance requirement should not be applied if there are exceptional grounds not to do so.

Residence permits on humanitarian grounds

Return to exceptionally distressing circumstances

The Committee proposes that if a residence permit cannot be granted on other grounds, a permit may be granted to an alien if, on an overall assessment of the alien’s situation, such exceptionally distressing circumstances are found to exist that they should be allowed to remain in Sweden. When this assessment is made, particular attention is to be paid to the alien’s state of health, their adaptation to life in Sweden and their situation in the country of origin.

Furthermore, the Committee proposes that children may be granted residence permits under the proposed provision even if the circumstances that emerge do not have the same seriousness and weight that is required for permits to be granted to adults.

Duration of residence permits in cases of exceptionally distressing circumstances

The Committee proposes that residence permits granted on grounds of exceptionally distressing circumstances should be temporary and valid for 13 months.  If a subsequent residence permit is granted, the new permit should be temporary and valid for two years. Every new residence permit subsequently granted should be temporary and valid for two years, unless an application for a permanent residence permit can be granted.

Persons otherwise in need of protection

The Committee proposes that the category of ‘persons otherwise in need of protection’ should be expunged from the Aliens Act (2005:716).

Other amendments to the Aliens Act, etc.

Residence permits on grounds of impediments to enforcement after decisions become final and non-appealable

The Committee proposes that residence permits granted to aliens on grounds of impediments to enforcement under Chapter 12, Section 18, first paragraph of the Aliens Act should be temporary and valid for a maximum of 13 months. In cases where the impediment to enforcement is based on the fact that an applicant has grounds for refugee status, the residence permit should be valid for three years.

If a subsequent residence permit is granted, the new permit should be temporary and valid for a maximum of one year.

The Committee proposes that a permanent residence permit may be granted if the impediment to enforcement is lasting and certain requirements are met. A permanent residence permit may be applied for at the earliest after three years of holding a Swedish residence permit.

Long-term residents

The Committee proposes that to be granted long-term resident status in Sweden and thus receive a permanent residence permit, an applicant must meet a maintenance requirement and the requirements of Swedish-language skills, civic knowledge and lifestyle necessary to be granted such a residence permit.

Citizenship for certain stateless aliens

The Committee proposes the introduction of a possibility to grant Swedish citizenship to an alien who has been granted a temporary residence permit on grounds of a need for protection, exceptionally distressing circumstances or impediments to enforcement, or on grounds of personal ties to such a person, if they were born in Sweden, have been stateless since birth, have been habitually resident in Sweden for the last five years or for a total of ten years, and have not attained the age of 21.

Safe and legal channels

The Committee concludes that there is a need for safe and legal channels into Sweden, but that the possibilities for Sweden to use national measures to ensure that a greater proportion of people coming to Sweden do so through safe and legal channels are limited.

The Committee concludes that Sweden should strive to ensure the further development of international cooperation for the resettlement of quota refugees, and its expansion to ensure that more countries admit quota refugees or increase their quotas.

Furthermore, the Committee concludes that Sweden should continue to support the development of a joint European resettlement scheme and other EU initiatives for safe and legal channels.

Legal certainty

Legal certainty in the asylum process

The Committee concludes that there is a good level of legal certainty in the asylum process.

Moreover, the Committee concludes that the amendments it proposes to the Aliens Act will further strengthen legal certainty in the asylum process by making the legislation clearer.

Public counsels

The Committee proposes that an inquiry be appointed to review the public counsel system in administrative law contexts, with a particular focus on public counsels in asylum cases.