Moving to Sweden For Members

What do we know about plans to make a compulsory 'Sweden course' for immigrants?

TT/Becky Waterton
TT/Becky Waterton - [email protected]
What do we know about plans to make a compulsory 'Sweden course' for immigrants?
Employment and integration minister Johan Pehrson. File photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The government has announced a new plan to introduce a compulsory 'Sweden course' for newly-arrived immigrants. What could be included, and who would it affect?


How does this course differ from what already exists?

There is already an optional course for newly-arrived immigrants in Sweden designed to make it easier for them to enter the labour market, which provides information on human rights, basic democratic values and how society is organised.

This course, the government argues, is not equal or consistent across different municipalities, and there are no overarching controls to make sure that everyone arriving in Sweden is given the same information.

The new course, which Minister for Employment and Integration Johan Pehrson, who is also leader of the Liberals, presented as part of the government’s work to combat exclusion, would be more clearly run by the state by being incorporated into the state-run Komvux adult education centres.

It would also cover new topics, such as the role of state authorities in society, the principles of the rule of law, the possibilities for democratic participation and the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

It would, Pehrson said, also have a greater focus on equality, women’s and children’s rights - including honour-based violence - religious freedom and “other basic values in society”.

Students on the new course would also be subject to tougher requirements - it would be obligatory rather than optional, they would need to participate in the course in order to receive benefits from the state, and they would also need to complete a written test.

Pehrson confirmed in the press conference that the only consequence of not passing the test would be having to retake it.


When will this come into force?

In a press conference on December 12th, Pehrson announced that a special inquiry would be set up in order to look into how the course could be formed, what sort of information it could contain and how a written test could be introduced, as well as how it could be made obligatory and to what extent it could be linked to the relevant systems of providing benefits.

This inquiry has a deadline of February 21st, 2025, after which it would need to go through a number of further steps in the legislative process before it could be presented to parliament and made law.

Who would have to take the test?

In the press conference, Pehrson referred to nyanlända, which technically means ‘newly arrived’ but in practice usually refers to people arriving in Sweden either as asylum seekers or as family members of asylum seekers.

Currently, the course is offered within the Swedish Public Employment Service's ‘establishment programme’ for people arriving in Sweden between the ages of 20 and 66 who have been issued residence permits as asylum seekers, people in need of protection or family members of these two groups.


Pehrson said in the press conference that his “vision” was that all newly-arrived immigrants would need to take the course, but he underlined that this, in practice, would depend on the type of permit held by the immigrant in question.

People moving to Sweden to be with a Swede, for instance, often referred to colloquially as being on a ‘sambo visa’, as well as people in the country on work permits, are not currently eligible for the establishment programme, meaning that they may not need to take the new course either. Pehrson said that this would be one of the topics the special inquiry would look into.


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John Worrall 2023/12/13 13:48
Anything that helps Sweden to retain it's language is positive. Sweden is already turning 'Svengelsk' at a fast pace. Not an issue for me I'm a British, just an observation over the years.

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