Sweden > Family reunification

last update: October 2015

In July 2010 new regulations concerning parents who have children in Sweden came into force. Persons applying for affiliation and having children are exempted from having to go to their countries of origin to apply for a residence permit. Despite this change in the law families can still be split up during the applying process. Requirements for passports or other identity documents are very stringent. The Somalis is one of the groups most affected by these requirements. Since the civil war some 20 years ago Somalia has been one of the world's most dangerous countries to be in. One result of this is that it is very hard if not impossible for parents to get hold of the documents that the Swedish Migration Board requires. This means that hundreds of Somali parents who have received residence permits in Sweden are not allowed to bring their children. Somali refugee children are then refused residence permits to be reunited with their parents who have a residence permit in Sweden. Minors of all ages are rejected even when DNA evidence of family ties exists and the children will be left with no other parent.




Family making a joint asylum application

If a family (defined as parents and children under the age of 18) arrive in Sweden togetherand any one of the family members is granted a residence permit as being in need ofprotection or in exceptionally distressing circumstances, the whole family may stay on thesamegrounds. Another adult, who has become the legal guardian of a child, can also be given permission to stay if the child is deemed to be in need of protection and granted a residence permit.

Family reunification

A person who is married to or cohabits with a Swedish resident is entitled to a residencepermitin Sweden. This also applies to registered partners and spouses of the same sex. In other words, if you have a permanent residence permit in Sweden, your partner is also entitled to live here. However, both of you must be over 18 and neither of you can be married to someone else. Children under 18 with one or both parents resident in Sweden are also entitled toresidence permits. It is the children's age by the time the Migration Agency makes its decision that counts. It is also necessary for the child to have lived with the parent at some point and the child must not have a more substantial link to a parent resident in another country. Documentation or DNA tests supporting the relationship may be required. In some cases there may be other conditions to meet before relatives can join you in Sweden. See below on passport and subsistence requirements.

Parents of unaccompanied minors who are granted refugee status or protection on subsidiary grounds also have the right to move to Sweden. But this usually does not apply if the child was allowed to stay because of particularly distressing circumstances. In that case the family is expected to reunite in the home country or the country in which the parents have permission to live.

The Migration Agency may also grant residence permits to other close relatives. In thosecases the people involved must have been living together immediately before the permitholder's departure to Sweden. One of the people involved must also be dependent on theother. The dependency can be economic, emotional or social and must have existed alreadyin the home country. The Migration Agency also wants to know if there are any other family members in the home country or in another country. If that is the case, the Migration Agency may come to the conclusion that the relative should seek support from them instead.

Whethera person is a child or not is decided on the day the Migration Agency makes itsdecision. It is of no importance how old the child was when the application was handed in. A child who has applied for permission to be reunited with its parents is almost guaranteed to get a residence permit if the child is 17 at the time of the decision. However, if theapplicant turns 18 before a decision is made, the person is counted as an adult and in then morestrict rules apply. Even if the Migration Agency has stated that it does not willingly separate siblings from each other it does happen that younger children in a family are granted permits while those over 18 have their applications rejected. In such cases, an application can be made based on family links and the fact that everyone in the family is part of a shared household. However, in order for that to work, the child over 18 must still be dependent and unable to get assistance from somewhere else.

Anapplication for a residence permit based on family ties must be handed in from thecountry of origin or from another country where the relatives are legally resident. The quickest way to apply is online, but it is also possible to hand in one's application at a Swedish embassy or consulate. The application must be approved before your relatives areallowed to join you in Sweden.

Passport requirements.

In order to enter Sweden you must be in possession of a valid passport and be able to proveyour identity. In most cases, both demands are met if you hand in a passport from your country of origin. If you do not have one, it is possible in certain exceptional cases to proveyour identity by other means, through certificates or documentation. In such rare cases, Sweden may issue aliens' passports. Aliens' passports are not, however, granted to individuals who are still in their country of origin. All-­in-­all, it is very difficult for families toreunite in Sweden if they come from a country without functioning authorities that are ableto issue documents.

If it is completely impossible for the relatives to get identity documents, the SwedishMigrationAgencycan do a DNA analysis to confirm the biological ties and then make ajoint assessment for the whole family. However, the DNA analysis may only be used as long as there are no other doubts in the investigation. For example, if a couple's accounts contradict each other at some point that may be considered a cause for doubt.

Subsistence requirements

If you are an adult who has applied for asylum in Sweden and been granted a residencepermitas an individual otherwise in need of protection or on grounds of exceptionallydistressing circumstances, you must show that your accommodation is large enough andthat you can support yourself before your relatives are granted residence permits. These criteria are called subsistence requirements. The accommodation must be a lease in yourname,a sublet or an owned flat or house. The necessary size of the accommodation depends on the size of the family. In order to meet the income requirements, you only have to make enough to support yourself, but the Swedish Migration Agency will make sure it is a guaranteed income. Information about the current rules can be found at the MigrationAgency. The subsistence requirements do not apply if it is your child that is applying for a residence permit, alone or together with the other parent. When you have had your residence permit for four years, the subsistence requirement is removed also for other relatives.

Relatives staying in Sweden

If you are in Sweden and apply for a residence permit because you are a relative of aresident, your application is likely to be rejected since it should have been submitted fromabroad. An exception can be made if you have a current asylum application lodged with the Swedish Migration Agency, or if you are in Sweden legally with some kind of residence permit (not just as a tourist).
If you apply for asylum whilst your partner and/or child are already resident in Swedenyou should mention the relationship in your asylum application. You can also bring it up later in the process if the relationship has arisen during your stay in Sweden.
The Migration Agency can give a residence permit to a parent whose child is grantedasylum, if the parent is also the legal guardian and the two are living together.
The law states that decision-­makers should take particular regard to children who could suffer from being separated from their parent, if such a separation would be lengthy.
However,in order to be able to apply from Sweden you must show that you without a doubtwould have been granted a residence permit from abroad. That means that your applicationcould be denied if you have lived without documents in Sweden for a long time. You need to provide specific reasons why you cannot travel to your home country, or explain why your child in particular would be harmed by the separation. You also have to be able to prove your identity with a valid passport in the same way as if you had applied from abroad.

Can I as an asylum seeker get married in Sweden?

You can get married or cohabit with your partner while seeking asylum inSweden.This also applies to same-sex couples. Before you get married you must go through a special procedure called an “assessment of impediments”(hindersprövning). This means that the authoritiesexamine whether there are anyobstacles, for example that one of you is already married. For this reason you may need a certificate from your country of origin, for instance from the embassy. The local tax authority carries out the investigation and you need to show authentic identity documents. You may get married even if your asylum application has been rejected and you are awaiting removal. The ceremony cantake place anywhere but a priest must perform it or another accreditedofficial in the presence of two witnesses. If you marry according to Islamictradition you should check with the tax authorities that the marriage has beenregistered in Sweden.

My asylum application has been rejected. May I stay with my family in Sweden?

If you have children who are resident in Sweden and there is a risk of length separation from them it is possible that you may be allowed to apply fromSweden,but only under certain conditions – se above under “Relatives are staying in Sweden”. Otherwise, the rule is that you should apply from your country of origin – or from another country where you are legally resident. You need to stay for a while in the country where you submit your application, as you may be called to the Swedish embassy for an interview. It is possible to hand in your application in any country where you have an address, but the embassy does not have to handle your case if you are not allowed to be in that country.

My partner comes from another European Union country and lives in Sweden. Do I have the right to live in Sweden too?

Yes. If your spouse, registered partner or cohabitant is a citizen of another EU orEEA country and lives and supports himself/herself in Sweden you automaticallyhave the right to live here. This is called a right of residence. You just need toreport to the Swedish Migration Agency to obtain a residence card. This also applies to people with dual nationalities, if one of them is from a EU member state. You must be able to produce a valid passport.

I want to live with my partner in Sweden, but the Migration Agency first wants to check whether our relationship is serious. How is this done?

If you are not married but are going to be (or if you live together now but did not share a home before you came to Sweden) the Swedish Migration Agency willinvestigate whether it is a so-called seriously intended relationship. This is calleda “test of seriosity”. The Migration Agency takes into account how long you have known each other, whether you speak a common language and what you know about each other. If the Migration Agency believes that there is a risk that one of the partners will be subjected to violence or other serious abuse in the relationship, the request can be refused. In order to see if there is such a risk, the Migration Agency can request information from the police, who keep a register of people who are suspected of or have been found guilty of a crime. If you are married, you will not have to go through a seriosity test. In that case, the Migration Agency is not allowed to question your relationship unless there is evidence that it is a sham marriage.

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