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UPDATED: Sweden to tighten rules on deporting those refused residency

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
UPDATED: Sweden to tighten rules on deporting those refused residency
Sweden's migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard receives a copy of the preliminary conclusions of the inquiry into improving Swedens returns process. Photo: Samuel Steen/TT

The Swedish government plans to increase the time people refused residency are banned from returning to Sweden to five years, with the clock now only starting to tick down only once they left the country.


Anita Linder, the judge who lead the Inquiry on Reinforcing Return Operations, recommended in her preliminary conclusions that the start date of the so-called "statutory limitation period" be changed from the date on which a removal order becomes "final and non-appealable" to the date on which "the alien leaves the country". 

She also proposed that the length of the statutory limitation period be extended from four years to five years.

Erik Engstrand, press spokesperson for Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard, told The Local that the change would apply to "all people having a return decision", including those with rejected work permit applications. 

"Most people applying for a work permit do it from outside of Sweden, so they won't be affected as they will only have got a work permit refusal but not a deportation order/return decision," he said. "You won't have to wait another five years to apply if you have got a work permit refusal if you've applied outside of Sweden." 

But he said that those denied work permit extensions might be impacted. 

"If you don't get a renewed work permit you must leave the country (and the ban would stand). However, you will still be able to apply for a new work permit, and the ban will be revoked if you get a new permit, so it will probably not be a major change from today in practice."  

As she formally received the inquiry's conclusions, Sweden's Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard, acknowledged that the measure seemed complicated, but said that it would have a significant impact on tightening up migration.

"This involves a lot of tricky words and and is pretty technical, but it's a very important issue in practice," she said. 

Currently, a removal order expires after four years, which Stenergard argued encouraged those whose appliations had been rejected to hide from the authorities and then reapply after four years without ever leaving the country. 

"This of course contributes to the fact that many individuals go underground, which as a result makes return efforts more difficult and less efficient," she said.

In 2023, she said, two thirds of asylum applications from Afghans, 70 percent of those from Iraqis and 47 percent of those from Somalis, came from people who had already received a deportation order four or more years previously, and presumably remained in the country.  

"What the chair of the inquiry is recommending," she continued, "will create incentives to actually leave the country, so that statutory limitation period starts running." 


The government now intends to send the recommendations of the inquiry out for consultation, and prepare a bill to be voted through parliament "as quickly as we possibly can", said Malmer Stenergard.

While the Social Democrats appointed Linder to carry out the inquiry, the current three-party coalition then issued a supplementary directive in 2023, extending the questions she was asked to investigate. 

In this set of preliminary conclusions, Linder recommends that the new deportation rules should come into force on January 1st, 2025. 


She held back, however, from abolishing the prescription time for deportations, telling the press conference that "there could be some strange consequences if [deportations] were to apply for eternity".

If, for instance, someone was deported at the age of five, it would mean they could never return to Sweden even if they had become a successful entrepreneur and business leader, she said.



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