Researcher Cansu Elmadagli’s application for long-term resident status was denied, despite her having a job, full unemployment insurance and good prospects for continued employment. The Swedish Migration Agency does not think that she can prove her ability to support herself for a sufficiently long period into the future.
SULF’s head of negotiations, Robert Andersson, believes that the Migration Agency has tightened its assessment criteria. At the same time, there is a lot of uncertainty about how it applies the criteria.
Income for at least one year
According to Per Löwenberg, head of the migration law unit at the Swedish Migration Agency, there has been no change to the internal legal governance at the agency. Applicants needs to be able to prove their ability to support themselves financially for at least one year ahead.
“That is the level we have set. We measure the period from the date that the case is assessed,” says Löwenberg.
When the Migration Agency makes its decision, the case officer must ensure that there are sufficient grounds. “It is up to the applicant to prove that he or she has sufficient income for the period assessed,” he continues. “If the agency has any doubts about what ruling it should make, the case officer will request further information or documentation from the applicant.”
Difficult to assess
Long-term resident status is based on an EU directive. The Swedish preparatory documents for the implementation of the directive state that the Migration Agency must investigate the likelihood that an applicant will be given continued employment.
“That is difficult for us to assess. But if a long time has passed between the date of the application and the date it is assessed, we need to ask the applicant for supplementary documentation.”
There is seldom any contact between the authority and the applicant’s employer, says Löwenberg. “If you do not have an employment contract valid for a year ahead, you may have to ask your employer to provide written confirmation showing that it is likely that you will have continued employment. It is up to the applicant to supply such documentation.”
Future unemployment benefit not accepted
With regard to the possibility of unemployment benefit as a means of support when your current employment ends, Löwenberg believes that the Migration Agency has to conduct a ”fictitious assessment” in such cases. The agency must then assume, for example, that the applicant will continue to be a member of the unemployment insurance fund for the entire period of their employment. These situations are therefore typically not approved, he says. If, on the other hand, there is a decision from the unemployment insurance fund regarding payment of unemployment benefits at the time of the application, the situation is different.
SULF’s head of negotiations, Robert Andersson, believes that cases are being assessed differently when it comes to unemployment benefits as a future source of income.
“I am not sure that they are assessed differently,” Löwenberg responds. “We receive a lot of applications and need to make sure that similar cases are treated equally. That is how it should be and is our starting point.”
The number of applications for long-term resident status has increased, and the Migration Agency must therefore review its process for handling this type of case, says Löwenberg. He believes that clarity is essential.
“I hope to be able to help bring about greater clarity now. I don’t know to what extent the information we publish on websites and other places is sufficient. Obviously not everyone thinks it is. Our goal is for our assessments to be as consistent as possible.”