(webpage body content last updated in 2015, comments are more recent)
Today and throughout history Sweden has been a leader in Europe and the world when it comes to granting people asylum or protection. This has been recently demonstrated in Migrationsverket’s (the Swedish Immigration Agency) announcement in September of 2013 that any Syrian refugee who applied for asylum in Sweden would receive a permanent residence permit.
You can be eligible for asylum in Sweden if you have a good reason to fear persecution in your home country based on any of the following:
- Religious or political beliefs
- Race, ethnicity, or nationality
- Sexual orientation
Asylum under any of these circumstances means you will become classified as a refugee, and as such you can obtain a Swedish residence permit based on this classification. You can also receive a residence permit in Sweden if you qualify under any of the following categories of protection:
- There is an armed conflict happening in your home country
- There is an environmental disaster in your home country
- You may be sentenced to death, corporal punishment, or subjected to torture in your home country
Process of Applying for Asylum as a Refugee in Sweden
The first thing you need to do is fill out a registration form to gain the status of a refugee or protected person. When you submit this registration you will also need to have some type of official government-issued identification, such as a birth certificate, passport, ID card, or marriage certificate. You will be interviewed by someone from Migrationsverket to determine the initial direction of your case and be provided with resources about getting around in Sweden, housing, and health care.
Once you apply for asylum you can also have a free medical exam and medical treatment for any emergency conditions you may have. While you wait for your application to be processed you also have the right to work in Sweden if you have provided proof of your identity. Throughout this process you will have access to an interpreter as needed for your meetings with Migrationsverket. Any children under 18 will have access to full medical services.
As part of your registration process you will be photographed and fingerprinted for an LMA Card, a card that shows you have a pending asylum case with Migrationsverkett. This card acts as a temporary residence permit while your case is processed. Your LMA card will also allow you to pay a maximum of 50 SEK for doctor visits or medications from a pharmacy, and allow you to work while your case is processed if you have proven your identity.
After your initial registration appointment you will have several other appointments with Migrationsverket throughout the application process to explain the details about why you are seeking asylum, your family situation, and any other important information. The meetings you will need to attend are:
- Inquiry Meeting – basic information about your application for asylum such as your name, personal information, and family; this serves the main purpose of introducing you to Sweden and the resources available to you
- Asylum Inquiry – this is the meeting where you will have the opportunity to explain exactly why you are seeking asylum in Sweden. Make sure to tie events in your home country to your personal experience and threats you and your family face personally if you return to your country.
- Group Information Appointment – this is a meeting you will attend with other applicants seeking refugee or protected status in Sweden and will explain the details about resources involving housing, healthcare, banking, welfare, Swedish law, and public service organizations
- Decision – at this meeting you will be informed of the decision in your case and what your options are at this point. If you are granted status as a refugee or protected person you will have the right to live and work in Sweden. This means you will be entitled to a residence permit – often in the form of a permanent residence permit – and the right to work in Sweden.
Where and How to Apply for Asylum or Protected Status
If you have not yet entered Sweden you can apply in-person for asylum at an official border crossing into Sweden. If you are already in Sweden you can apply in-person at a Migrationsverket office located in any of the following cities:
- Gävle – Kaserngatan 50 B
- Göteborg – Streteredsvägen 88 Hus 3, Kållered
- Malmö – Agnesfridsvägen 111
- Norrköping – Slottsgatan 82
- Stockholm (Märsta) – Maskingatan 9
- Stockholm (Solna) – Pyramidvägen 2 A
You need to be in Sweden to apply; you can’t apply from abroad. The exception to this is if you register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country where you are currently, and the UNHCR submits an application for resettlement on your behalf to Sweden (for instance, you would submit an application with the UNHCR if you were living in a refugee camp in Lebanon).
Also keep in mind that even if you apply in Sweden you may be transferred to another EU country (including Norway or Switzerland) under the Dublin Regulation. This could be the case for any of the following reasons, however there are also other considerations:
- If you have another family member living in this country
- If you have previously had a visa or resident permit for this country
- If you traveled through this country to reach Sweden
This said, if any of these circumstances are true it does not necessarily mean you will be transferred to another EU country.
Finally, here is a link with free resources for people who are seeking asylum/refugee status/protective status: http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/sweden-pro-bono-directory
Here is another helpful link with organizations that can help asylum and protective status seekers: http://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Private-individuals/Protection-and-asylum-in-Sweden/While-you-are-waiting-for-a-decision.html
Note for readers: I compiled this information by reading various government websites. I don’t have direct experience with asylum/refugee cases so I can’t be of much more help. Feel free to leave a question or comment though and perhaps someone with helpful information will respond.
If you still have immigration questions after reviewing this page then please see the Ask a Question page.