At the end of last week, the Swedish Migration Agency announced new residence permit rules for doctoral students. Instead of a maximum of two years, doctoral students can now obtain residency for up to four years at a time.
“It is the Migration Agency’s view that a doctoral position or scholarship at a Swedish university is normally sufficient for meeting the income requirement for a permit of up to four years, even if a student’s position of employment must be regularly renewed.”
The Migration Agency published this announcement on its website last Friday (in Swedish).
This is a very welcome decision. Sweden needs to strengthen and promote academic internationalisation, not frustrate it, which was the effect of the changes that were made to the Aliens Act last year. These changes and a strict interpretation of regulations and practices have had absurd consequences for individual students and visiting researchers.
If Sweden is to attract competent and talented people, we must be able to offer conditions that are flexible, predictable and easily understood. Many people in academia and beyond have urged the Migration Agency to change its stance on residency for doctoral students, and it is gratifying to see that the Agency is now prepared to adjust its rules and procedures.
A change in the law
We also have a change to look forward to on 1 June, when it will become easier for individuals to switch status from within the country. A foreign citizen with a temporary permit for working or running a business in Sweden will soon be able to switch between these permits or to a residence permit for research or doctoral studies, provided that they apply before their current permit expires and that the conditions for that permit have been met.
However, much remains to be done before we can feel truly satisfied. The effects of the new Aliens Act, which came into force last July, risk hitting international doctoral students and visiting researchers hard. Hence, political decision makers must react quickly to make sure the law is amended. There has to be a degree of flexibility so that individual circumstances can be taken into account after reasonable assessment.
Below you will find some of my earlier blogs on the new Aliens Act and the importance of enhancing Sweden’s attractiveness to international academic talent (some in Swedish only):
Utlänningslagen måste justeras annars riskerar Sverige att tappa kompetens och talanger (2021-09-08)
Gör det enklare att rekrytera talanger – inte svårare (2021-03-15)
Snabbt agerande krävs för att inte underminera anseendet för Sverige bland internationella studenter (2020-05 24)
Studenter måste ges rimliga möjligheter att fullfölja utbildningen (2018-05-16)