Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Maria Malmer Stenergard wants to tighten the laws on family migration. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Swedish Government aims to tighten family migration laws


Sweden is to review policy regarding migrant family reunification, looking to implement more stringent procedures to lower the number of arrivals.

Migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard of the Moderate party and Ludvig Aspling, the migration policy spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats, outlined their plans at a press conference on July 9.

They said an investigator would now examine two key aspects of family-member immigration — maintenance requirements for family members and health insurance.

More specifically, they said they wanted the financial support requirements for immigrants sponsoring family members tightened and the question of whether comprehensive health insurance should be mandatory for individuals entering Sweden through family reunification programmes to be examined.

ARCHIVE IMAGE FROM 2015 – Refugees sleep outside the entrance of the Swedish Migration Agency’s arrival center for asylum seekers at Jagersro in Malmo, Sweden, early 20 November 2015. EPA/STIG-AKE JONSSON SWEDEN OUT

They said the investigation will also look into using DNA analysis to establish kinship between people and to protect children from being placed with non-family individuals.

“Extensive immigration in recent years, combined with a lack of integration, has contributed to major challenges with growing exclusion,” Stenergard said.

“Reviewing and further tightening the conditions for family reunification is an important part of reversing the trend and ensuring a responsible, rigorous and long-term sustainable migration policy.”

She pointed out that the existing regulations for family reunions were more lenient than what was required under EU law and other international treaties.

“The maintenance requirements are primarily aimed at strengthening integration and are considered to increase the incentive for family members to get a job and become self-sufficient,” Aspling said.

Stenergard added that the Swedish regulations were “complicated and can be perceived as inconsistent”.

Family reunification refers to a category of immigration policies that allow individuals who are already legal residents or citizens of a country to bring certain family members to join them in that country.

Sweden’s right-wing government has pushed the number of asylum-related residence permits down to the lowest figures in 24 years. The centre-right Moderate party also claims there has been “a paradigm shift” on the issue.

Once implemented, the Swedish investigation would have to be completed by August 25, 2025, with the review building on proposed legislative changes aimed at clamping down on family reunification rules floated last autumn.