21 July 2021

The Swedish Migration Agency is now starting to apply the new rules of the Aliens Act

Temporary residence permits will be the norm, more people must be able to support themselves, and the law on upper secondary level studies is becoming its own separate law. These are the main differences now that the changes to the Aliens Act are entering into force.

– The changes to the law are extensive and affect virtually all our applicants in different ways, depending on the type of residence permit you have and the length of the permit, says Director-General Mikael Ribbenvik.

On 22 June, the Parliament voted in favour of amending the Aliens Act, and the changes took effect on 20 July. In addition to imposing time limits on new residence permits, the changes to the rules entail new requirements for being granted a permanent residence permit. Among other things, from now on, the applicant must be able to support himself or herself and must have had a residence permit in Sweden for at least three years.

– The legislative changes are both sweeping and complex and relate to all types of cases. The Migration Agency has worked intensively and with a very short preparation time to ensure that the legislative changes can now be applied by our case officers, says Mikael Ribbenvik.

There are no transitional provisions for applications submitted before the changes to the law entered into force and regarding which the Swedish Migration Agency has not yet had time to take a decision.

– This means that these cases will be examined according to the new legislation, says Mikael Ribbenvik.

The website of the Swedish Migration Agency contains detailed information on how the changes to the law affect the various permits. This information is also available via the authority’s social media. At this time, the English information is not yet updated. Please use the Swedish information until the warning notice at the top of the English pages has been removed.

The law on upper secondary level studies becomes its own separate law

Another change in the Aliens Act is that the so-called law on upper secondary level studies, which was previously part of the regulations for the temporary law, has become its own separate law. There are no substantive changes to the examination of applications, and the law will gradually be abolished between 2023 and 2025.

– The purpose of the law is to give people who are in the country with these permits the opportunity to complete their studies and apply for permanent residence permits, says Carl Bexelius, the Swedish Migration Agency’s Director of Legal Affairs.

At the moment, about 4,500 people in the country have residence permits whose validity is supported by the law on upper secondary level studies.

Continuous updates

The time window for the introduction of the law has been very short. It was only last week that the Government’s ordinance specifying the changes to the Aliens Act in greater detail was presented.

– We therefore now need time to analyse the ordinance and formulate legal support for our decision-making officers. It is a job that will last until well into the autumn, says Mikael Ribbenvik.

He says it has been a great challenge to implement a completely new law in such a short time frame, but believes that taking into account the conditions, the authority is as ready as it can possibly be to start applying the amended law.

– Dealing with new legislation is a job to which the Swedish Migration Agency has become accustomed in recent years. It is time-consuming to develop new practices, new procedures and new support for processing. At the same time, the authority has established procedures for raising difficult legal issues so that we can solve them together. We’re currently working to train our staff so that they feel confident making decisions under the amended Aliens Act, says Mikael Ribbenvik.

It is not yet possible to say exactly how the rule changes in the Aliens Act will affect the activities of the Swedish Migration Agency in terms of the number of applicants. The next forecast will be presented to the Ministry of Justice on 30 July, at which time the authority will present figures based on the new legislation.