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IMMIGRATION

Sweden tops EU in citizenship approval rate

Sweden is the most generous country in the EU when it comes to approving citizenship applications, according to a new report from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, on Tuesday.

Sweden tops EU in citizenship approval rate

A total of 30,460 people acquired Swedish citizenship in 2008, a drop from 33,630 in 2007. However, the country had the highest rate of citizenship approvals among all EU countries in 2008, at 54 citizenships granted per 1,000 resident foreigners, followed closely by Portugal at 51, Poland at 48, Finland at 47 and Hungary at 43.

Sweden also topped the list in 2008 when comparing the rate of citizenship acquisition against the total population of each member state, with 3.3 citizenships per 1,000 inhabitants, ahead of Luxembourg at 2.5 and France, Portugal and the UK at 2.1 each.

In 2008, 695,880 persons acquired citizenship of an EU state, compared with 707,110 in 2007. The new citizens in 2008 came mainly from Africa (29 percent of the total number of citizenships acquired), non-EU Europe (22 percent), Asia (19 percent) and North and South America (17 percent).

EU citizens who acquired citizenship in another EU country accounted for eight percent of the total. In 2008, the highest number of citizenships were granted by France (137,000), the UK (129,000) and Germany (94,000), which together accounted for over 50 percent of all citizenships granted in the EU.

The lowest rate of citizenship approval in the EU in 2008 belonged to the Czech Republic at 3 per 1,000 resident foreigners and Ireland and Luxembourg, both at 6. The EU average in 2008 stood at 23 per 1,000 resident foreigners.

Ten member states granted less than one citizenship per 1,000 in 2008, with Poland registering the lowest rate, followed by the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia. The EU average was 1.4 citizenships granted per 1,000 inhabitants.

In 2008, the largest groups that acquired EU citizenship were citizens of Morocco (64,000 persons), Turkey (50,000), Ecuador (27,000), Algeria (23,000) and Iraq (20,000).

France granted 45 percent of all the citizenships acquired in the EU by Moroccans and 88 percent of those acquired by Algerians, Germany 49 percent of those acquired by Turks, Spain 93 percent of those acquired by Ecuadorians and the UK 44 percent of those acquired by Iraqis.

In some member states, a large part of the citizenships was granted to citizens from only one country. The member states with the highest concentrations were Romania (89 percent of new citizens came from Moldova), Hungary (68 percent from Romania), Greece (59 percent from Albania) and Bulgaria (51 percent from Macedonia).

In Latvia and Estonia, 96 percent and 92 percent respectively of the new citizens were recognised non-citizens. The majority were citizens of the former Soviet Union.

A recognised non-citizen is a person who is neither a citizen of the reporting country nor of any other country and who has established links to the reporting country which include some but not all rights and obligations of full citizenship.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

In Sweden, a sambo is domestic partner – someone you’re in a relationship with and live with, but to whom you aren’t married. If you, as a non-EU citizen, are in a sambo relationship with a Swedish citizen, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of that relationship. But meeting the requirements of that permit is not always straightforward.

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

An American reader, whose son lives with his Swedish partner, wrote to The Local with questions about the maintenance requirement her son and his partner must meet in order to qualify for a sambo resident permit.

“Their specific issue is that they meet the requirements for a stable relationship and stable housing, but have been told that qualifying for a sambo visa based on savings is unlikely,” she wrote, asking for suggestions on how to approach this issue. Her son’s partner is a student with no income, but whose savings meet maintenance requirements. But, they have been told by lawyers that Migrationsverket will likely deny the application based on the absence of the Swedish partner’s income.

How do relationships qualify for sambo status?

In order to apply for a residence permit on the basis of a sambo relationship, you and your partner must either be living together, or plan to live together as soon as the non-Swedish partner can come to Sweden. Because this reader’s son is already in Sweden as a graduate student, he can apply for a sambo permit without having to leave the country, provided that his student permit is still valid at the time the new application is submitted.

The Migration Agency notes that “you can not receive a residence permit for the reason that you want to live with a family member in Sweden before your current permit expires”. So once your valid permit is close to expiration, you can apply for a new sambo permit.

What are the maintenance requirements for a sambo permit?

The maintenance requirements for someone applying for a sambo permit fall on the Swedish partner, who must prove that they are able to support both themselves and their partner for the duration of the permit. This includes both housing and financial requirements.

In terms of residential standards that applicants must meet, they must show that they live in a home of adequate size – for two adult applicants without children, that means at least one room with a kitchen. If rented, the lease must be for at least one year.

The financial requirements are more complicated. The Swedish partner must be able to document a stable income that can support the applicant and themselves – for a sambo couple, the 2022 standard is an income of 8,520 kronor per month. This burden falls on the Swedish partner.

While the Migration Agency’s website does say that you may “fulfil the maintenance requirement (be considered able to support yourself) if you have enough money/taxable assets to support yourself, other persons in your household and the family members who are applying for a residence permit for at least two years”, it is unclear how proof of this would be documented. On a separate page detailing the various documents that can be used to prove that maintenance requirements are met, there is nothing about how to document savings that will be used to support the couple.

Can you apply on the basis of savings instead of income?

Well, this is unclear. The Migration Agency’s website does suggest that having enough money saved up to support both members of the sambo relationship is an option, but it gives no details on how to document this. It is also unclear whether applying on the basis of savings will disadvantage applicants, with preference given to applicants who can show proof of income from work.

The Local has reached out to an immigration lawyer to answer this question. 

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