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Sweden is considering a bill to make the toughening of its immigration rules permanent, by making permanent certain temporary measures introduced to limit the reception of refugees following the 2015 migration crisis.

In Sweden, a bill toughening its immigration rules was presented on April 8 by the Social Democratic government allied with the Greens, and is to replace the current temporary legislation in force since 2016 and extended in 2019 due to lack of political consensus on a lasting law.

According to the plan, refugees will now benefit from three-year residence permits, which will only be convertible into permanent residence rights if they meet requirements such as knowledge of Swedish or sufficient income.

Before the 2016 screw-up, permanent residence permits were used under Swedish law, one of the most welcoming in Europe at the time.

In relation to its population, Sweden was the country in the European Union to receive the most refugees in 2015, with more than 160,000 arrivals, including many Syrians.

In a decade, the country of 10.3 million people has granted asylum and family reunification to more than 400,000 people, according to immigration officials.

As the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party gained prominence, the main Swedish parties, including the ruling Social Democrats, had made a five-year shift to stricter policy, which resulted in a drop in the allocation of residence permits.

“With this project, Sweden is no longer a magnet for asylum seekers as we were in 2014, 2015,” said Social Democratic Migration Minister Morgan Johansson.

The social democratic minister defended on April 8 a project which “guarantees a sustainable regulatory framework in the long term” while ensuring that the principle of residence permits limited in time “does not have disproportionate effects”.

“These basic rules are in line with those of most other EU countries,” he pleaded at a press conference.

The obligation to be able to provide for the needs of family members when applying for family reunification, introduced in the temporary law, will also be part of the new law.

The case of unaccompanied minors

Temporary extended residence permits may also be issued to children and adults, especially in “particularly painful” circumstances, under “humanitarian protection”.

One and a half years before the legislative elections of September 2022, the leader of the anti-immigration party of the Democrats of Sweden (SD) Jimmie Akesson attacked a provision favorable to unaccompanied minors, also targeted by the Swedish right.

According to the project, the latter may be allowed to stay in order to continue their studies and will thus be covered under “humanitarian protection”.

The current temporary law, last extended in 2019, is due to expire this summer. The new law is due to enter into force in July following a vote in Parliament.

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