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The new Aliens Act: Joint statement


Saco, SULF, SULF:s doktorandförening and TCO, ST, SFS and SFS-DK have signed a joint statement about the aliens act. The statement and a petition, signed by almost 5000 people, have been sent to politicians.

Joint statement on the new rules regarding permanent residency for doctoral students and other early-career researchers

We, the undersigned, representing trade unions and student organizations supporting doctoral students’ work and education, stand in solidarity with the doctoral students and other early-career researchers in Sweden whose lives and future plans are affected by the new Aliens Act (Utlänningslagen).

In the summer of 2021, the requirements for being granted a permanent residence permit in Sweden were changed, and this has had severe consequences for early-career researchers, and for doctoral students in particular. These were due in part to changes in the legislation and in part to the Migration Agency’s (Migrationsverket) interpretation of the new regulations, both of which markedly restricted the chances of non-EU/EEA doctoral students receiving a permanent residence permit.

Since 2014, non-EU/EEA doctoral students have been able to receive permanent residency after 4 years of doctoral studies. With the recent changes in the Aliens Act, these doctoral students or other early-career researchers need to be able to show that they are financially self-sufficient. The Aliens Ordinance (Utlänningsförordning) further specifies that this financial self-sufficiency needs to be of a certain duration. This duration was not specified in the legislation. However, the Migration Agency has decided that there needs to be an employment contract of 18 months or more. Moreover, there was no transition period, so the legislation came into effect on the 20th of July 2021 and applies to all applications for permanent residency processed thereafter, even those submitted before that date.

Doctoral students and other early-career researchers are very rarely offered such long-term contracts, whether employed by universities, private companies or the state. At the same time, those who hold a PhD degree are rarely unemployed and, if they are unemployed, it is usually only for a short time. However, while the demand for their skills and expertise is high, their chances of being given a long-term contract are low during the first few years after graduation. The new permanent residency rules will create additional hurdles in their pursuit of long-term career development in Sweden. Hence, the new rules will also create a lose-lose situation for Sweden as a knowledge-based nation.

We demand that the political decision-makers in Sweden rectify the situation by:

  • instituting a return to the 2014 regulation, giving doctoral students the right to permanent residency after 4 years of studies.
  • immediately introducing an exemption from the Migration Agency’s requirement of an employment contract of at least 18 months for doctoral students and other early-career researchers.

Furthermore, we fully support the petition launched in early September that calls for a change in permanent residency law. We will continue to support those affected by these changes to the best of our abilities, to monitor the situation and to bring these issues to the attention of those in power until our demands are met.

Sveriges universitetslärare och forskare, SULF
SULF:s doktorandförening
Fackförbundet ST
Sveriges förenade studentkårer, SFS
Sveriges förenade studentkårers doktorandkommitté, SFS-DK

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