In 2021, Sweden received 91 300 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 14% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 27.7% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 17.8% labour migrants, 42% family members (including accompanying family) and 12.5% humanitarian migrants. Around 8 500 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 7 100 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 58 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, a -6% decrease compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

India, Syria and Germany were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, India registered the strongest increase (+2000) and Afghanistan the largest decrease (-400) in flows to Sweden compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 38%, to reach around 14 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (1 800), Ukraine (1 800, excluding temporary protection recipients) and Afghanistan (800). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Ukraine (+1 400) and the largest decrease nationals of Syria (-400). Of the 10 000 decisions taken in 2022, 34% were positive.

Emigration of Swedish citizens to OECD countries increased by 21% in 2021, to 19 000. Approximately 16% of this group migrated to Spain, 11% to Norway and 10% to Türkiye.

The new government, which took office in October 2022, announced a paradigm shift in Swedish migration policy, with stricter migration and asylum legislation and an overall aim to reduce immigration to Sweden.

In November 2022, the Swedish Migration Agency was tasked by the new government to plan for a reduced number of quota refugees from 5 000 per year to 900 in 2023.

In May 2023, the government announced measures to introduce stricter conditions for low-skilled labour immigration and improved conditions for highly skilled labour. A proposal to increase the minimum salary threshold for work permits has been put forward. The new salary level is set to SEK 26 560, which corresponds to 80% of the median salary. This follows the decision in November 2022 to increase the minimum salary threshold as a mean to combat exploitation and reduce the number of unqualified labour migrants in the country. The new rules are due to come into force in October 2023.

In parallel, the Swedish Migration Agency has been given a mandate to promote highly qualified labour migration. This will include the introduction of a new model, introduced in late 2023, for handling work permit cases and establishing international recruitment units. The new model encourages employers to hire highly qualified workers from outside the EU by providing them with better service, including shortening the processing time for all labour market cases. The aim is to reduce the work permit application process time to a maximum of 30 days for highly qualified workers. The introduction of the new model is planned for the end of 2023.

The government aims to tighten the requirements to receive social benefits and become a Swedish citizen. A government inquiry will examine a new model for welfare qualification, whereby newly arrived immigrants will not immediately qualify for social benefits and allowances. Another inquiry will look at citizenship. Swedish language skills and knowledge of Swedish society will be required in order to qualify for Swedish citizenship, and other requirements will become stricter. The inquiry will investigate requirements for self-sufficiency, stricter requirements for an honest lifestyle, a longer period of residence and an obligatory declaration of loyalty. The inquiry will also present proposals that make it possible to revoke citizenship in certain cases.

The government has announced its aim to increase the number of returns and initiatives for repatriation by encouraging more collaboration between the Swedish Migration Agency, the Swedish Police and the Swedish Tax Agency. The capacity of detention centres will continue to increase and alternatives to detention will be investigated. Information campaigns aimed at increasing knowledge about available repatriation support will be launched. New legislation is also aimed at facilitating expulsion due to crime.

For further information: www.regeringen.se | www.migrationsverket.se | www.government.se/government-policy/swedens-new-migration-policy

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