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INTEGRATION

‘Love immigrants’ need more support adjusting to life in Sweden

Those who immigrate to Sweden for love can run into trouble if they become too dependent on their Swedish partners, argue Liberal Party ministers Nyamko Sabuni and Erik Ullenhag, who propose expanding the availability of society orientation courses as a first step toward improving the situation.

'Love immigrants' need more support adjusting to life in Sweden

People flee or migrate to Sweden to seek protection, work or love.

Whatever the reason, it’s important that they can support themselves and feel like they are part of society as quickly as possible.

In recent decades, integration hasn’t worked well, which is why sweeping reforms are underway. The government is now focusing specifically on how to improve the ways immigrant women make their entry into Swedish society.

A part of this work is to ensure that non-European relatives who also migrate to Sweden can participate in society orientation programmes.

Far too many women who have immigrated to Sweden have had difficulty getting a job, and hence lack the control over their daily lives that a salary brings. Both women who come here as refugees, as well as women who have immigrated to our country to start a family with Swedish men find it difficult to find their place in the new society.

One group that has run into difficulties and attracted attention recently consists of so-called “love immigrants” who move to Sweden to be with their partners.

When these women don’t get jobs, they become totally dependent on the man’s financial support and network of contacts. In the worst cases, their daily life can be reduced to one of violence and isolation.

Thousands of foreign women have been forced to seek protection from violence after coming to Sweden to marry a Swedish man. Thousands of children are also affected, as shown by an inquiry presented recently in Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) by Värmland County Governor and Liberal Party politician Eva Eriksson.

It’s shameful that women who immigrate to one of the world’s most equality-conscious countries find themselves caught up in a daily life marked by violence and oppression. The inquiry proposes a series of measures. Not least, it is about preventing unscrupulous men from systematically and repeatedly bringing women here and using them for a short period of time. The government is currently analyzing the proposals and will send them out for comment shortly.

However, we already present a first step, a step in the right direction: allowing non-European family members of immigrants who have already come to Sweden – such as love immigrants – to participate in society orientation classes.

The proposal is estimated to cost around 40 million kronor ($5.7 million).

Today, society orientation classes offered to refugees, those in need of protection, and their relatives.

The aim is to provide newcomers with knowledge about and an understanding of Swedish society. It is a tool for new arrivals to more easily get around in the new country. Society orientation is about the values which are fundamental in Swedish society – human rights, democracy and equality.

The classes are about the rights and obligations you have as an individual in Sweden. They also provide knowledge about how Swedish society is organized and the practicalities of everyday life.

Today, society orientation programmes aren’t offered to immigrating relatives of someone who already lives in Sweden. But when it comes to relatives immigrating to Sweden from countries outside Europe, there are many signs indicating a great need for social orientation.

One thing many non-European immigrating relatives have in common is that their social networks are often completely dependent on the networks of those to whom they move to Sweden to be with.

Previously, it was judged that these social networks would be sufficient to help the new arrivals integrate into Swedish society.

But employment rates tell a different story. Too many of the women who have immigrated to a man in Sweden have a hard time getting a job. Therefore, all non-Europeans immigrant relatives who come to Sweden will be offered society orientation classes in order to facilitate their entry into the job market and into Swedish society.

We need to do more to ensure that those who immigrate to our country have a chance to find work and become a part of Swedish society.

Those who immigrate need to learn what Swedish gender equality means and where they can turn for help.

Relatives who immigrate to Sweden also need to network here to avoid the risk of becoming isolated.

By also offering society orientation to them, we can take a first step toward giving them a better start and more opportunities in their new country.

Nyamko Sabuni

Minister for Gender Equality

Erik Ullenhag

Minister for Integration

This article was first published on in Swedish in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper

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SWEDISH CITIZENSHIP

TEST: Is your Swedish good enough for citizenship?

To become a Swedish citizen, you may soon need to prove your language skills. Do yours make the grade?

TEST: Is your Swedish good enough for citizenship?

The Swedish government’s proposal that applicants for residency have to pass a language test is almost certain to get through parliament. The proposal — part of the January Agreement struck between the Social Democrats, the Centre Party, and the Liberal Party — has a big majority of parliamentary parties behind it.

So it might be time to sign up for SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) classes – that is, if you haven’t already. 

READ ALSO: Swedish language tests for citizenship: Here’s what we know about the proposal so far

What level of Swedish will you need for citizenship? 

An inquiry into bringing in the language requirement for concluded in January last year that applicants for citizenship should be able to listen to and read Swedish at B1 the second of the six levels in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), equivalent to having completed level D, the fourth-highest level in the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) course. 

This is a fairly high level of Swedish, well beyond the simple nej, tack, (“no, thanks”) you might need when asked if you want a receipt at the supermarket, or the en kardemummabulle och en latte (“a cardamom bun and a latte”) you might need when ordering a fika. It’s enough to get the gist of what’s in Swedish newspapers, listen to the radio, or to follow a lecture without too much difficultly. 

When it comes to speaking or writing Swedish, the inquiry suggested requiring a lower level, A2. This is equivalent to SFI level C, and roughly the same as GCSE level in the UK.  

This is the same level which the government has suggested for those applying for permanent residency for reading and listening as well as speaking and writing.

READ ALSO: Is your Swedish good enough for permanent residency?

What are the CEFR’s A2 and B1 levels? 

According to the CEFR guide, someone at B1 level, “can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.” and “can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.”

To compare this to school levels in European countries, this is roughly equivalent to getting an A-C grade at AS level in the UK. 

A2 is much more basic. According to CEFR, this is enough to “communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters”. 

People reaching this level should be able to “describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.”

So there’s no need to speak or write with perfect grammar, or to have a large Swedish vocabulary, but people at this level should be able to communicate in a basic way when writing or speaking. 

How can I test my level? 

If you want to do a thorough assessment of whether your Swedish is good enough for citizenship, you can do one of the free level tests provided by the Folkuniversitetet adult education school. You need to do the tests for Swedish level A2 and B1. 

The Swedish National Agency for Education (skolverket), also has sample papers for the national test for SFI level C and SFI level D.

Below are some excerpts to help you judge whether or not your Swedish is at the right level. 

Listening (level D) 

In this example listening test, you first have to listen to this recording.

Did that make any sense? Then here’s the question paper. 

Du får höra två personer som bokar en resa tillsammans. Lyssna och svara på frågorna. Läs först igenom uppgiften

A Vem ska de hälsa på?

□ En kompis.

□ En släkting.

□ En studiekamrat.

B Varför bestämmer de sig för att resa med tåg?

 □ Det är snabbast.

□ Det är billigast.

□ Det är trevligast

If that’s too much for you, then you’ve got some more studying to do if you expect to be applying in early 2025. 

Reading (Level D) 

You can find examples of various reading tests here. To give you an idea, we’ve put one below.  

Vem vänder sig texten till? 

Texten vänder sig till …

□lärare. □politiker. □elever. □chefer

Texten vänder sig till …

□lärare. □politiker. □ elever. □chefer.

Did you get that? Then maybe you’re ready for whatever future language test the government decides to put in place. 

Writing

This is the same level as has been suggested for permanent residency, so this repeats the example from the permanent residency test article

In this prompt for the writing test for SFI Level C, you are asked to write a letter to a friend about a recent trip.

It suggests telling them about where you stayed, what you did, and what you liked and disliked about the trip. You are asked to pay attention to how you start and end the letter.

Skriv ett brev till en vän och berätta om en resa du har gjort.

Du kan till exempel
• berätta om vart du reste.
• berätta om vad du gjorde.
• berätta om vad du tyckte var bra och vad du inte tyckte var bra med resan.

Tänk på hur du börjar och slutar brevet.

Can you understand the instructions at least? Now you need to show off your letter-writing skills. 

Speaking

In the solo portion of this section, you are asked to talk about an everyday topic based on something you have experienced – like a recent trip, or a party you attended. You are asked to speak for 5-7 minutes, and you may take some time to plan out your thoughts before starting.

The teacher holding the exam will say to you: 

Du ska få berätta om en något du varit med om.
Du ska prata i 5-7 minuter.
Om du vill kan du ta en liten stund och planera vad du ska säga innan du börjar prata.

In the paired portion of this section, you are given a topic – like what is most important in school – and asked to have a 10-minute conversation about the topic. It should be a discussion, with both participants speaking for an equal period of time, and you will have access to some prompts in a “prompt card” to keep the conversation going.

The teacher leading the test will tell you something like: 

Ni ska prata med varandra om vad ni tycker är viktigt.
Ni ska prata i cirka 10 minuter.
Det är viktigt att ni lyssnar på varandra, ställer frågor till varandra och frågar varandra om ni inte förstår.
Tänk på att ni båda talar ungefär lika mycket.
Jag kommer inte att vara med och prata utan bara lyssna, det är ni som ska diskutera med varandra.

Till hjälp får ni den här tankekartan (lägg den på bordet) på den finns några punkter som ni kan diskutera, ni måste inte prata om alla men ni kan använda dem som stöd under diskussionen (gå igenom tankakartan snabbt).
Frågetecknet betyder att det också kan finnas många andra saker som är viktiga, som inte finns med på tankekartan.
Okej, då kan ni börja prata med varandra!

Could you at least understand that? Could you keep a conversation going on these topics in Swedish? Then you might be ready for the citizenship test. 

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