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Changes to the Aliens Act impact researchers and doctoral candidates


On 22 June, the Swedish parliament approved amendments to the Aliens Act. These came into force on 20 July.

For researchers and doctoral candidates, the change in the law primarily means that sufficient means of financial support through work or an own company is required for a permanent residence permit to be granted. The requirement applies to all applicants who did not receive their decision before 20 July. No changes have been made regarding the requirement for a four-year residence permit for doctoral studies, research or work within a seven-year period.

In order to be granted a permanent residence permit, it is now required that the applicant has long-term and sufficient income through employment or self-employment. As a general rule, employment must be for last for at least 18 months at the time the decision is made in the opinion of the Swedish Migration Agency. In some cases, probationary employment may be accepted. Income from unemployment insurance cannot be counted as a means of support when applying for a permanent residence permit, but certain other benefits, such as sickness benefit and parental benefit, can be counted if they are paid temporarily and during the time you are employed.

Another important change is that accompanying family members aged 18 or over must themselves meet the self-support requirement in order to be granted a permanent residence permit and they must also have had a residence permit for at least three years. The self-support requirement does not apply to children, but they must have had a residence permit for at least three years in order to be able to obtain a permanent residence permit.

If permanent residence is not granted for the applicant or a family member, a temporary residence permit can still be granted in some cases. This may apply, for example, if a doctoral candidate has not yet completed their doctoral programme or if a residence permit to seek employment for one year after completing studies or research can be granted.

“We have been very critical of the proposal,” says Robert Andersson, chief negotiator at SULF. “It also included language competence requirements. These have now removed, but they will probably be introduced later.”

“The requirement regarding self-support will create major problems for many of our members,” he continues, “as it can be very difficult to find employment that lasts at least 18 months during or in directly after completion of research studies or research, especially considering how common short fixed-term employment is within higher education. Since the employment duration criterion is to be tested at the time of the decision, there will also be uncertainty as to whether the requirement is met, depending on how long it takes to process the decision. There is therefore a danger that the new regulations will result in fewer foreign citizens wanting or being able to stay in Sweden and contribute to the Swedish economy. If that happens, Sweden will lose important competence and the internationalisation of higher education will become more difficult. Today, a large proportion of both doctoral candidates and people with career-development positions have a foreign background. It is clear that the politicians' desire to tighten asylum immigration has been the focus, rather than how Sweden will be able to retain highly qualified people, for example those who complete a doctorate in the country.”

More information

Frequently asked questions about permanent residence permit.

You can find more information on the Swedish Migration Agency’s (Migrationsverket) website.

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