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Sweden extends PSW, improves PhD route to residence

After outcry from educators about its strict post-study work laws, Sweden is set to extend the period for which international students can stay and look for work after they have graduated. The government also plans to make it easier for foreign PhD students to gain permanent residence.

Migration Minister Tobias Billström shared a photo of the bill on his Facebook page

PhD students will be able to apply for permanent residence provided they have spent four out of the last seven years studying in Sweden

The bill promises “better opportunities for those who want to utilise their knowledge in Sweden after their studies”

The period for which foreign graduates will be allowed to stay is as yet undecided, but Green Party migration speaker Maria Ferm told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that six months would be a “reasonable time” to expect.

Fern also said that with the new legislation, which is part of a raft of new immigration measures, the government would introduce clearer rules for international students’ family members.

As of June 1, when the legislation will come into effect, foreign PhD students will be allowed to apply for a permanent residence permit upon completion of their studies, provided they have spent four out of the last seven years living in Sweden on a study permit.

Current regulation stipulates that PhD students must have spent four out of the previous five years in Sweden.

Migration Minister Tobias Billström said that the amendment is “very important” and aims to make Sweden a more attractive study destination for international doctoral candidates. He added that students should have the option of moving back and forth between their home country and Sweden without jeopardising their chance of applying for permanent residence.

Billström shared a photo of the Bill on Circular Migration and Development on his Facebook page, saying that it promises “better opportunities for those who want to utilise their knowledge in Sweden after their studies and expanded opportunities for those who are accompanying a student, graduate student or business person to obtain a residence permit”.

“It has been a very important question for international students to get these dated, very antiquated rules changed”

“It has been a very important question for international PhD students and international students overall to get these dated, very antiquated rules changed,” Erik Pedersen, vice chairman of Sweden’s Student Union Association, said.

Until now, post-study work provisions for international students in Sweden have been extremely restrictive, with graduates being forced to leave the country just 10 days after completing their studies.

This has prompted fierce criticism from senior business, academic and political figures. In January, MEP Cecilia Wikström and Per Eriksson, Rector of Lund University called for a new regulatory framework that “emphasises education, research and innovation and encouraging skilled migrants to stay, saying that Sweden’s tough visa regulations make it “the worst in the entire EU”.

Thanks to an agreement between the outgoing Alliance government and the Swedish Green Party, the draft legislation is set to pass with a secure majority of votes.

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