Sweden > Overview

last update: October 2015

Sweden has been quite successful in portraying itself as a humanist and just country, whereas at the same time pursuing tough and inhumane Migration- and Asylum politics. A good example of this hypocrisy is how Swedish migration authorities handle Iraqi refugees. As early as 2006 Sweden claimed that Iraq was a ”safe country” and signed a repatriation agreement on asylum seekers with Iraq. Sweden has lead the work for forceful deportations to Afghanistan, claiming from the start that there are “safe alternatives for internal refuge”. Sweden has also been leading the way in implementing the common European asylum policy. During the Swedish Presidency in 2009 the Stockholm program was adopted, which piles migration together with “external and internal security”. Sweden has also been working a lot with changing labour directives and visa regulations to facilitate so called Circular migration, where migrants are exploited as workforce with a minimum of rights.

Sweden and other Nordic countries have escaped a lot of responsibility through the Dublin convention. Sweden rarely makes exceptions to the convention, and this leads to many refugees eventually being sent back to the country of their first asylum application. The only exception to this rule has been for Greece. In the summer of 2010, Sweden stopped sending refugees back to Greece on the grounds of the inhumane conditions in detention centres there. This however has been the only exception. In the spring of 2013 a new practice is in place, exempting unaccompanied minors from the Dublin regulations.

On this site we try provide information about how sweden regulates migration. If you are to apply for asylum in sweden we recommend to read the full "Good advise" guide, published by FARR, un umbrella organization for migrant-solidarity groups in Sweden. It is available in many languages here.

We also strongly recommend to get in contact with any of the non-governmental organizations in the area of your destination listed under Contacts on this site, preferably before contacting the authorities.


Citizens from other EU-countries

If you are a citizen or have a permanent residency permit in another eu-country, your asylum application will be rejected by sweden. You can get residency permit by work, or by marriage.

Sweden also deports Roma people coming from Romania and other EU countries. The numbers being deported have not been very big, but this has created much discussion because they are EU citizens and thus formally have the right to be in Sweden without a swedish residence permit. A lot of racist rhetoric and hate-crimes have been directed towards Roma people in sweden that last years, without almost any response from investigating authorities.

The following was published on farr.se, 2015-09-15:

Here follows main facts about seeking asylum in Sweden:

If you want to seek asylum in Sweden you should do that as soon as possible after arrival. But of course, if you are very tired and feel confused or don't have information, it is not a problem to rest overnight or a few days while you try to seek legal advice before applying or traveling to another country.

The asylum procedure in Sweden is lengthy, but if you are accepted as a refugee or in need of protection you will probably get permanent residence.

Most asylum seekers arrive in Sweden without passports. That is no crime.  If you have a false passport, don’t try to use it in Sweden. If you must show it, just say that you had to travel with it to flee.

Asylum seekers from Syria are currently granted protection in Sweden, but they still need to go through a regular asylum procedure. Syrians who have other citizenship as well, such as Armenian passports, those who have lived somewhere else for a while or have close family in some other country can be denied protection in Sweden. Those who don’t have passports will be asked to show in other ways that they are from Syria and they will be questioned to verify their stories.

Eritreans are also in general granted protection if they can show they are from Eritrea. There is always an individual assessment and practice can change.

Other nationalities: Most asylum seekers of other nationalities are rejected - like in other EU countries. The acceptance rate differs between 1 and 70 percent for different nationalities and the assessments are individual. You must fear personal persecution like death threats, torture or other severe mistreatment and you must be able to convince the Swedish authorities about the risk - and also that you couldn't get protection in your country of origin. Therefore, any evidence and verifications that you could show to prove your situation would be good to put forward. It is also important that you can identify yourself in some way even if you don’t have a passport, and that you tell as many details of your story early in the procedure.

If you have been let into the EU by another EU country, you will not be turned back immediately at the border if you try to seek asylum in Sweden. But you can be ordered to go back to the other EU country after some weeks or months in Sweden, according to the "Dublin" regulation. Those who get such a decision are in general those who have been registered as asylum seekers OR have been forced to leave fingerprints at the external EU/Schengen border OR have arrived with a visa issued by another EU country. Fingerprints taken inside the territory of some other EU country or at borders between EU countries are normally not used for this purpose, if the person is not at the same time registered as an asylum seeker.

If you are an unaccompanied minor you will not be ordered to leave Sweden according to the Dublin regulation if you haven't already got a decision on your asylum application (positive or negative) in another EU country. But it sometimes happens that the authorities don't believe your age and then you could be treated as an adult.

FARR is a network of local activist groups and individuals. FARR has no connections with the authorities and cannot forward asylum applications. We have no possibilities to arrange for refugees to reach Sweden from abroad. Our mission is to defend the rights of asylum seekers and undocumented persons in Sweden.

Compiled information about a few common rumours and misconceptions:

  • No, Sweden's ability to provide asylum for refugees is not about to stop. There is no fixed level.
  • No, it is not easier in general to get asylum in Finland than in Sweden. Finland's asylum reception is small compared to other similar countries. But it is true that asylum seekers from Iraq who managed to get to Finland in the last year or so have got protection more often than in Sweden. However there is no guarantee that this practice will continue and be valid for all Iraqis.
  • No, the Swedish police does not arrest and deport you right after you apply for asylum – however, they may of course arrest you if you are here without papers and refuse to seek asylum.
  • No, the Swedish Migration Board will not force you to stay in southern Sweden. However, it is likely that they'll want to send you further north, where they have places available.
  • No, it is not good for you as an unaccompanied child to hide for six months before seeking asylum - more likely the opposite as you will get older which might make it more difficult for you to get asylum. The idea that hiding for six months will prevent Sweden from transferring you to a country where you left fingerprints, is simply not true.
  • Yes, there are certain situations when it may be an advantage to wait before seeking asylum, but for most people it is only a disadvantage, because waiting to apply for asylum may damage your credibility.
  • No, every person who has traveled from other EU countries will not be returned. Tens of thousands are allowed to seek asylum in Sweden every year despite the fact that Sweden does not have any external EU borders beyond the airports.
  • Yes, as an unaccompanied child, you are granted asylum in Sweden in most cases. The vast majority are allowed to stay.
  • No, as an unaccompanied child, you are not put in prison until the day you turn 18. You can stay at a special accommodation for youths or with a family.
  • Yes, some asylum seekers are rejected and may become undocumented if they refuse to leave Sweden.
  • No, you cannot avoid becoming undocumented by not seeking asylum, since you are then undocumented from the beginning.
  • Yes, the Migration Board will provide food or a small amount of money for food and provide accommodation if you need it, though the standard may be low. This is generally an area where Sweden is pretty good, even if the rest of the asylum process leaves a lot to be desired.
  • No, you can't get asylum in Sweden because you get married here or get a baby. Asylum is only about the need for protection. If you have a very close family member with residence in Sweden, you have the right to reunion. But an application for this must be made from abroad, from a country where you have the right to live.
  • Yes, Sweden deports people who have been refused asylum, by force if they don't leave voluntary. The best way to avoid this if you are in need of protection is to be aware of how the asylum procedure works and show your needs in a way that the Swedish authorities understand.

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