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Sweden Missing Out on Talent Due to Complicated Migration Laws

Migration legislation has for several years created obstacles for non-European doctoral students and researchers who primarily want to conduct research in Sweden. For example, it has been about difficulties in obtaining a permanent residence permit, long processing times, support requirements that have not been adapted to the reality of the position and difficulties for accompanying spouses and children in obtaining residence permits.

The reason why the group has difficulty obtaining a permanent residence permit has its background in the previous government’s Migration Agreement from 2021, when the requirements for permanent residence permits were tightened. The new government, on the other hand, has highlighted in the Tidö agreement that they want doctoral students and researchers to receive permanent residence permits \”after a certain period of continuous employment\”.

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Even Education Minister Mats Persson, who is responsible for higher education and research, has repeatedly promised that deportations of researchers should be stopped and that it should be easier to attract highly qualified foreign talent to Sweden.

But despite that, doctoral students and researchers who will primarily conduct research projects or studies will not be covered by the Migration Agency’s new rules, which should favor highly qualified labor. This is confirmed by the Swedish Migration Agency to DN. A change in the law is required to make it easier for the group.

It arouses criticism from SULF. \”We think that the group is the most qualified group in society and should really be included in the thinking to attract here and keep them. Policymakers often lose sight of these groups, which are covered by other regulations, when talking about investigating labor immigration. This leads to them choosing other countries, with the consequence that Sweden then loses out on valuable cutting-edge expertise\”, says Robert Andersson.

Today, there are several examples of doctoral students and researchers who opt out of Sweden because of complicated migration laws.

\”The image of Sweden as an attractive research country is negatively affected. Therefore, the government should do everything to make it easier for this group to be able to operate in Sweden\”, says Robert Andersson.

The Swedish Migration Agency already has a processing requirement that residence permits for studies must be decided within 90 days and research within 60 days.

\”The government says they want to do something about it but nothing happens.\”- But we know that the Swedish Migration Agency often does not stick to those times. There are examples of it taking several months to renew a residence permit. It is remarkable that the government is allowing it to continue. And this at the same time as the government says it wants to make it easier for foreign doctoral students and researchers. I can’t get this together.

Today, in some cases, the group may have to leave Sweden to apply for a new residence permit from their home country and then travel back into Sweden – something they may be forced to do even during ongoing employment, says Robert Andersson.

\”It becomes a big problem not only for the individual but also for the employer who has to wait for a few months for the person to come back. The government says they want to do something about it but nothing happens.\”

In a written comment to DN, Minister of Education Mats Persson (L) writes that the government will review the legislation \”…which today causes us, quite frankly, to waste talent. All of Sweden benefits from the best researchers being given the opportunity to stay and work here.” He also writes that last winter the government tasked the Swedish Migration Agency with making it easier for, among other things, researchers who were affected by stricter passport requirements.

But Robert Andersson says he is concerned about the slow process.

\”Both this and the previous government have been too slow and in their eagerness to tighten refugee immigration they have not been able to see that at the same time they have created a regulatory framework that hits hard against the highly qualified people they say they want to bring here.\

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