Sweden is currently experiencing a surge in labour migration from outside the European Union but in the cases of Iraqis and Syrians, family reunification migration is rising even higher.
In 2018, Sweden saw 15,400 individuals receive residency as part of family reunification, a number up from just 3,600 in 2009. As the number of family reunification migrants has risen, so too has its proportion compared to overall labour migration, newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten reports.
A decade ago, family reunification made up around 17 per cent of work residency permits granted by the government but that number has risen to 42 per cent.
Helena Carlestam, an external analyst at the Swedish Migration Board, commented on the increase saying: “There has been a high proportion of relatives arriving in recent years. The regulations say that you have the right to bring your relatives and we can only follow it. This is in line with the legislature’s intentions, which was to open up a generous framework for labour immigration.”
Some countries have even seen more family reunification permits granted to their nationals than work permits. Since 2014, Iraqi migrants were granted 2,200 work permits and 5,500 permits for family members to join them.
The figures are similar to Syrian migrants in which 1,500 work permits were issued compared to 3,900 residency permits for family members.
Swedish Municipality That Took Too Many Migrants Faces Bankruptcy https://t.co/yq4XgAw30d
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“If you have a need to have a better life and have an opportunity to also apply for a work permit as an alternative, then it is clear that there will be a way into Sweden,” Carlestam said after being asked if labour migration could actually be a hidden form of asylum migration.
According to Malmö University researcher Henrik Emilsson, many of the migrants working in Sweden do not make enough to support their relatives who come over, leading to the Swedish state having to step in to cover their living costs.
“The income that many have does not cover the cost of families coming,” he said and added: “You usually have labour immigration to make it a win-win situation. Here we have rather a win for the individual, and perhaps for the company, but a loss for society.”
Several Swedish municipalities have sounded alarms over the cost of migrants, with some even claiming it could lead to the bankruptcy of their local government.