On the Margins : Migrants, Status Mobility and Recent Turns in Swedish Migration Politics

Abstract: Many people believe that changes in Swedish migration politics in the last decade signal a turning point and perhaps the end of the well-reputed Swedish exceptionalism. In 2008, Swedish labour migration policy was transformed into one of the most open in whole OECD, whilst Swedish asylum migration policy, known for its humanitarianism, took a significant turn toward restrictiveness in 2016. For several decades the opposite used to characterise Sweden as an outlier.This thesis takes interest in a legal status change channel known as spårbyte (“track change” in Swedish) implanted with the reform in 2008, allowing migrants to switch statuses to temporary workers after rejection of asylum claims or previous studies without having to return.The study sketches status changes in relation to the labour migration policy reform, and explores how migrants work themselves around legal and formal requirements to change of “tracks” in order to stay in Sweden with work permits. It mixes case file research, interviews, statistics and secondary sources and uses theoretical glasses of deservingness on the ways in which staying with work permits is experienced and conditioned by both inclusionary and exclusionary logics of migration control.The study finds that friendships, family, kinship ties and individual employers, help migrants in ways clearly enabled by the openness of the current Swedish labour migration policy. But earning the right to stay on the basis of work comes with a high price of dependency, elongated temporariness, uncertainty and deportability for migrants.

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