Prioritizing customer service equals long delays for family reunification
Those wanting to bring a partner or family members to Sweden from abroad are waiting for up to two years for a decision on a residence permit, over twice as long as the law dictates.
"If you call there ten times, you get ten different answers. Depending who you talk to," says Jens to Swedish Radio. He has been waiting nine months for a decision on a residence permit for his partner.
Processing times for a residence permit can now take up to two years, far above the allotted nine months required by law. One of the reasons for the long wait include last year's huge increase of asylum applications that has taken much of the Migration Agency's resources.
Another reason is that case workers in the immigration authority's department dealing with such matters have, since the end of last year, had to improve customer service after criticism from the Justice Ombudsman and the public.
The new "integrated customer service" involves staff being available on the telephone for up to six to eight hours a week to respond to queries from the public on any delays in processing applications for family residence permits.
The Saco union representing workers at the Migration Agency is critical that employers do not prioritize the processing of applications.
"We believe that the employer should prioritize the core job. We should make a decision. We have far more competent customer service resources in the organization who could take care of it, instead of making case officers deal with it in integrated customer services," Saco union chairman John Andén tells Swedish Radio.
Cecilia Borin at the Migration Agency says they have no plans to change the current working practices.