Migrants will have to be able to speak Swedish to become citizens under country’s new proposals

Migrants will have to speak Swedish and show understanding of the country’s culture in order to become citizens under proposals drawn up for the government.

Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said the country, which has for years applied a liberal attitude to immigration, needs to find ‘a better balance between rights and responsibilities’ for would-be citizens.

Sweden opened its doors to thousands of migrants flooding into Europe in 2015 but has since been rocked by a surge in gang violence, bombings, shootings and sex attacks that has caused unrest.  

As a result the country has seen growing support for far-right anti-migrant parties, which the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party is hoping to stem by shifting to the right itself.

Foreign nationals will now have to prove their speaking, listening, reading and writing levels to become citizens of Sweden.

The language tests cost 2,000 kronor (£175) and the civil component costs 500 kronor (£45).

Applicants can also provide proof of citizenship by passing Grade 9 in a Swedish high school, equivalent to Year 11 in the UK. 

Justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson, outlining his proposals, said: ‘Language is the key to work, but also the key to society.’ 

The new language requirements will apply to people aged 16 to 66 who apply for citizenship.

A group of migrants, coming off an incoming train, are seen next to a police officer in Malmo. The country is shifting its immigration policy

Sweden's approach to immigration has divided opinion in the country and led to a rise in the far-right

Stateless, disabled and illiterate people have to show they have tried to reach the required level even if they are unsuccessful.  

Other Nordic citizens will not have to take the test as they do not need to apply for citizenship, The Local reported. 

The review took into account other countries’ migration policies, finding that Sweden was one of three European nations to not set language tests for citizenship.

The proposals will be sent to authorities for consultation before being passed by parliament.

The government is also looking into setting language tests for people seeking permanent residence in Sweden.

Sweden, long seen as one of the most open countries in the world, began opening its doors to asylum seekers in the 1980s and took in one of the highest numbers in Europe during the migration crisis of 2015. 

Morgan Johansson (left), justice and migration minister is behind the proposals focusing on immigrants acquiring Swedish languages skills

There has since been a rise in violent crime, with 257 bombings and more than 300 shootings reported in 2019.

But it has also led to a rise in far-right attacks and the resurgence of the former white nationalist group Sweden Democrats, now the third biggest party in government.

A recent controversial case saw a Swedish judge refusing to deport two Eritrean nationals who were convicted of aggravated rape because the pair were military deserters who would face punishment on their return.

The men, aged 30 and 32, were convicted in a Stockholm court of raping the woman for hours in an apartment in the city while threatening her with a knife. 

The pair have been living in Sweden for several years and have been granted refugee status by the government. 

If returned, the UN warned the deserters faced arbitrary detention, extrajudicial punishment and conscription that amounts to forced labour. 

Sweden has also been struggling to control criminal gangs from the Middle East.

Erik Nord, Gothenburg’s chief of police, told MailOnline: ‘These criminal clans have a completely different culture that makes them very difficult to tackle with normal police methods.

‘We need more police and our courts and prisons need to be reinforced to deal with this situation urgently. Otherwise we will turn into a gangsters’ paradise.’

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