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What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals?

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What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals?
Centre Party leader Annie Lööf and Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund, pictured here at the opening of parliament, have reached a deal with the Social Democrats and Green Party. Photo: Anders Wiklund
14:44 CET+01:00
Four of Sweden's parties have announced a government deal which could help the country out of a months-long deadlock. The proposed agreement is a Social Democrat-led government, with a right-wing-influenced economic policy. So what does that mean for internationals in Sweden?

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In total, the deal was 16 pages long, with 73 different points relating to 11 areas: economy and national finances, jobs and growth, policies relating to rural and regional growth, environment and climate, integration and honour-related violence, housing, schools, healthcare and elderly care, disability, migration, and national security.

Here's a look at the issues likeliest to have a big impact on the lives of foreigners in Sweden.

Migration

Sweden's temporary migration law would be extended for another two years under the deal.

Under this law, the right to family member immigration for various types of immigrants, including those granted temporary residence permits, is limited, making it harder for foreigners living in Sweden to have family members and partners come and live with them.

Sponsors (that's the person already living in Sweden) need to prove they can provide not only for themselves, but also for the person planning to move, whose own savings or income are not taken into account.

A 'stepping stone' to the workplace

Foreign-born workers are disproportionately likely to be unemployed in Sweden compared to native Swedes. One proposal aimed at combating this is the introduction of etableringsjobb, jobs with lower salaries for newly arrived people to help them enter the labour market, which would also be available to the long-term unemployed.

Housing reforms

Proposed changes to housing policy include abolishing rent controls on newly built properties and removing the interest on postponed capital gains tax from property sales.

The latter reform affects homeowners in Sweden, while the relaxation of rent regulations could make it easier for new arrivals to find a home in the country's difficult housing market. However, new builds only account for a small proportion of Sweden's housing market, so it would be unlikely to have a major effect.

Foreigners in Sweden are disproportionately likely to live in cities, where the queues for rent-controlled housing (also called första hand or first-hand contracts) are often over a decade long. This means new arrivals are less likely to benefit from rent controls, while also being less likely to own a property.

The deal also proposed tightening the punishment for illegal sales of black market contracts.

'Family week'

One big factor many internationals cite in their decisions to move to Sweden is the ease of raising a family here, and it could get even easier under the new deal.

Working parents of children aged between four and 16 would each be able to take three extra days off work a year during their children's school holidays, and single caregivers would get six days.

Citizenship

Another proposed change was the introduction of language and civics tests for would-be Swedish citizens. Foreigners would need to pass a Swedish language test and one on "fundamental understanding of society" in order to become Swedish.

Currently, most foreigners are eligible to apply for citizenship after being legally resident in the country for three to five years, depending on factors such as their country of origin and whether they are in a long-term relationship with a Swede. 

Have your say: What do you think of the proposed government deal? Members of The Local can log in to comment below.

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