Residency permits For Members

IN DATA: How many residency permits has Sweden recalled?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
IN DATA: How many residency permits has Sweden recalled?
The Migration Agency's return centre at Åstorp in Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's Migration Agency has hit back at criticism of "severe shortcomings" in its work recalling residency permits, claiming to have become much better at uncovering when people no longer meet the criteria.


A report published by Sweden's National Audit Office criticised the Migration Agency and the former Social Democrat-led government for not prioritising investigating whether those with residency permits still fulfilled the criteria for them, finding that this had come at a significant cost, for example by allowing benefits to be paid out wrongly. 

But the Migration Agency said in a press release published that it had already increased its focus on recalled residency permits.     

How many residency permits have been recalled in 2023? 

According to the agency, 9,438 residency permits have been recalled so far in 2023, which is already nearly double the 4,478 permits recalled in 2022. 

It is still, however, behind the 13,933 permits recalled in 2021 and the 11,728 recalled in 2020, an increase in recalls that took place under the former Social Democrat led government.  

Figures in the report from the National Audit Office show a similar improvement under the Social Democrats. 

In 2021, 8,890 permanent residency permits and 776 temporary residency permits were recalled, according to a graph in the National Audit Office's report, while in 2020, about 6,116 temporary residency permits were recalled, and 939 temporary permits. 

The number recalled then fell dramatically in 2022, with 1,304 permanent residencies and 733 temporary residencies recalled. 

"That was the result of a campaign that the Migration Agency did in 2019," Tommi Teljosuo, who led the investigation for the National Audit Office, told The Local.

"They received data from the Swedish Tax Agency on people who had moved abroad from Sweden and then they just checked that list against the list of people with permanent residency permits in Sweden, and found some 20,000 people had left Sweden." 

He said that by 2022, this exercise had been completed, leading to the sharp reduction in the number of recalls.  

The number of recalls had increased again in 2023, he said, because the Migration Agency had been told to prioritise revoking permits in tasks set for it that year by the incoming Moderate-led government.  


How the number of residencies being recalled has changed since 2013. Graphic: Swedish National Audit Office

How many people have left Sweden and still kept their permanent residency? 

The Swedish National Audit found that there were 10,000 people who held permanent residency in 2020 despite having moved out of the country. 

But this was a significant improvement on the number in 2019, when more than 15,000 people with permanent residency were estimated to have left Sweden  

The number of people believed to have left Sweden who have nonetheless retained permanent residency. Source: National Audit Office


How many people have work permits without any registered income? 

The number of people holding work permits without meeting the requirements for a work permit also started to fall from 2018, albeit less drastically than permanent residencies.

Over 4,000 people were estimated in 2018 to have had a work permit without fulfilling the requirements, a number that had fallen to about 3,400 by 2020. 

The number of people who no longer fulfil the requirement for a work permit but have not had that work permit recalled. Source: Swedish National Audit Office


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