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Sweden Proposes Language Requirement for Would-Be Citizens

According to a new inquiry, people applying for Swedish citizenship should be required to show proof of Swedish language skills and understanding of the Swedish society.

Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson presented details of an inquiry into the proposals on Wednesday morning.

"Language is the key to work, but also the key to society," said Johansson as he outlined why the government thought it needed to find "a better balance between rights and responsibilities" for would-be citizens.

Foreign nationals applying to become Swedish would need proof of Swedish skills at A2 level for speaking and writing, the second-lowest out of six levels on the Common European Framework of Reference, and B1 for reading and listening.

To take the test, it would cost 500 kronor ($60) for the section relating to civil society and 2,000 kronor for the language component.

Citizenship applicants could alternatively provide proof of passing Grade 9 in a Swedish high school, or a course at upper secondary school, or the highest level of the Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) course.

The language requirements would apply to people aged between 16 and 66 who apply for Swedish citizenship. Still, certain exceptions are proposed, including for people with certain disabilities or those from a vulnerable background – for example, being stateless or illiterate – who can prove they have tried to reach the required knowledge level.

Sweden Proposes Language Requirement

Do You Know?

  • Sweden passport grants its holder visa-free access to 124 countries in the world. And at arrival, he can obtain a visa to another 33 countries.

Citizens of other Nordic countries who live in Sweden would also be exempted. They are subject to a different process and are only required to notify authorities, rather than apply, to receive citizenship.

The proposals were put together based on reviewing the processes in other European countries, of which only three including Sweden do not currently require a language test.

Sweden Proposes Language Requirement for New Citizens

Another Interesting Fact About Sweden

  • ABBA is still one of the world’s most famous bands in history, and when you travel abroad it’s not uncommon that people will mention ABBA when they think about Sweden. However, not only ABBA has made it to the international scenes when it comes to music. There are a lot of Swedish artists such as Zara Larsson, Avicii (R.I.P), Swedish House Mafia, Alesso, Robyn, Måns Zelmerlöv, and Lykke Li. But also artists and bands such as Roxette, Europe, Alcazar, and Ace of Base have given the world some top hits throughout the years. In addition to that, a lot of songwriters and producers are of Swedish origins.

Sweden Proposes Language Requirement for the New Citizens

But the details aren't finalised yet. The next stage is to send the proposals out for consultation from relevant authorities, and they may be adapted depending on the responses received. A proposal would then need to be passed by parliament and work to begin putting together the tests.

"This is a reasonable proposal, and we hope that it can be put into place as soon as possible, but of course this is a large organisational challenge," said Johansson.

The government committed to investigating language tests for citizenship applicants in the cross-bloc deal struck with the Centre and Liberal parties, whose support the Social Democrat-Green coalition needed to form a government.

Separately, the government is looking into whether language skills should be required for permanent residence in Sweden.


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