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Sweden: Parliament Votes to Grant Migrants Extended Residence Permits to Complete High School

(June 9, 2017) On May 3, 2017, the Swedish Parliament voted to amend the Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Right to Obtain Residence Permits in Sweden, to allow students aged 17-25 to remain in Sweden while they complete their high school education. (Lag om ändring i lagen (2016:752) om tillfälliga begränsningar av möjligheten att få uppehållstillstånd i Sverige (Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 2017:352) amending Lag om tillfälliga begränsningar av möjligheten att få uppehållstillstånd i Sverige [Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Right to Obtain Residence Permits in Sweden] [Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 2016:752] (text as amended by SFS 2017:352), RIKSDAGEN (Swedish Parliament website); Kompletteringar av den tillfälliga lagen för uppehållstillstånd rörande studier på gymnasienivå Socialförsäkringsutskottets betänkande [Amendments to the Temporary Act on Residence Permits Regarding High School Education], Committee on Social Insurance Report No. 2016/17:SfU 19 (2017), RIKSDAGEN.)

As amended, the Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Right to Obtain Residence Permits in Sweden allows young people to obtain extended temporary residence permits while completing their high school education. (16 f § Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Right to Obtain Residence Permits in Sweden, as amended.)  This amendment entered into force on June 1, 2017.  (Id.)  Immediately after this amendment was adopted, on May 5, 2017, another law was passed in order to extend these rules past the expiration date of July 20, 2019, stipulated in the amended Act.  Thus, the new high school rules that entered into force on June 1 will remain in force until December 20, 2021.  (Lag om uppehållstillstånd för studerande på gymnasial nivå [Act on Residence Permits for High School Students] (SFS 2017:353).)

Background

The purpose of the law is to encourage migrants who have received temporary residence permits to complete a high school education. (Proposition [Prop.] 2016/17:133 on Amendments to the Temporary Act on Residence Permits Regarding High School Education (Mar. 2, 2017), at 1, REGERINGEN (Government Offices of Sweden website) (in Swedish).)  Persons under the age of 25 cannot be granted a permanent residence permit in Sweden based on employment unless they have completed a high school education.  (17 § 3 ¶ Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Right to Obtain Residence Permits in Sweden.)  The amended Act thus provides persons aged 17-25 a chance to obtain the education needed to receive a permanent residence permit.  A permanent residence permit can be given to a person who holds a job and can provide for him or herself.  (Id. 17 § 2 ¶.)

Other Aspects of Temporary Residence in Sweden

Under current law, asylum seekers under the age of 18 receive greater protections than a person 18 years old or older; for instance, minors cannot be deported unless it can be shown that an adult would take care of them upon their return to their home country. A person not eligible for asylum would, however, be denied an extension of his or her temporary residence permit upon reaching the age of 18 and then be deported, even if no such responsible adult awaited them.  (Om du snart fyller 18 år [If You Soon Turn 18], MIGRATIONSVERKET (Feb. 2, 2014).)

Sweden made a number of temporary changes to its asylum rules in 2015 that entered into force in 2015 and 2016 and limited the grounds on which residency permits were awarded. These changes made temporary residence permits the norm, in contrast to the previous standard under which permanent residence permits were the norm.  (Elin Hofverberg, Sweden: Stricter Asylum Rules in Effect, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Sept. 14, 2016).)