While current regulations stipulate a five year minimum for anyone wishing to become a citizen, researchers Dan-Olof Rooth and Per Strömblad recommend shortening the waiting period for newcomers who manage to become proficient in Swedish at an earlier stage.
In a report commissioned by the government’s Globalisation Council, the researchers stress that the proposal would not lead to stricter rules for anyone seeking a passport, but would provide an incentive for those wishing to speed up the process.
Writing in Sunday’s Dagens Nyheter, Rooth and Strömblad justify the proposal with reference to the importance of language learning for the integration process.
“On a purely practical level, this can be organized within the existing SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) framework,” write Rooth and Strömblad.
“Proof of proficiency in Swedish could consist of a test administered within the SFI system. Anyone wishing to test their knowledge of Swedish after, for example, a year, can, if they pass, cite their grade when applying to become a Swedish citizen.”
The Liberal Party has long argued that proficiency in Swedish should be a requirement for immigrants seeking to become Swedish citizens, an approach that has met with fierce criticism from much of the political establishment.
Strömblad and Rooth argue that “the carrot may be a more effective method than the stick.”
The role of the Globalisation Council is, according to the government’s website, “to analyse how best to equip Sweden to address the challenges of the future.”