Up until 20 July 2016 the vast majority of residence permits granted to persons in need of international protection or with humanitarian grounds were all permanent. They could, in principle, only be withdrawn if a person spent a major part of their time in another country or if a person was charged with a serious crime that involved deportation. Occasionally temporary permits were granted, mainly for medical reasons or for temporary hindrances to expulsion.
A new system was introduced with the adoption of a temporary law,1 valid for three years, in July 2016. The new law limits asylum seekers' possibilities of being granted residence permits and the possibility for the applicant's family to come to Sweden. The government openly admitted that the law was proposed in order to deter asylum seekers from coming to Sweden.2
If a person is considered to be a refugee, he or she will receive a refugee status declaration. If he or she is considered to be a person in need of subsidiary protection, he or she will receive a subsidiary protection status declaration – an internationally recognised status based on the Qualification Directive.
The third type of protection status according to the Aliens Act, a “person otherwise in need of protection”, is of limited use after July 2016. This protection status can only be given to children and families with children who applied for asylum on or before 24 November 2015, provided that the child in question is still under 18 years old when the decision is made.
Convention refugees are, according to the temporary law, granted a three-year temporary permit with the right to Family Reunification if the application is made within three months of the reference person receiving their permit. Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection will be granted an initial period of 13 months temporary residence permit with no right to family reunification. The permit can be extended another two years if protection grounds persist. The temporary residence permit gives holders the right to live and work in Sweden for three years. During that period the person has the same right to medical care as a person with a permanent residence permit.
Persons whose removal would contravene Sweden’s international convention-based obligations and who do not qualify for Convention refugee status or subsidiary protection status can be granted an initial temporary permit of thirteen months which can be prolonged for two years if the grounds persist. If such a permit is granted in a subsequent application, then the permit is first granted for thirteen months and then one year at a time subject to the same grounds. Temporary residence permit gives the person the right to live and work in Sweden for thirteen months. During that period they have the same right to medical care as a person with a permanent residence permit. The person’s family is eligible for residence permits to join the sponsor in Sweden only in exceptional cases.
There are transitional rules for some categories of asylum seekers. Children with families or unaccompanied children who sought asylum at the latest on 24 November 2015 will have their cases assessed according to the previous law. This means they will be granted permanent residence permits if their claims are successful. However, a child who is over 18 when the case is decided on will not benefit from this concession.
Since this is a new system in Sweden, it is hard to predict if there will be any difficulties involved in the renewal of permits. It is predicted that the change puts a considerably higher burden on decision-making bodies, as they and others predict that the handling of the cases for these persons will take longer than before.
The number of days from application to decision on a permit was 328 days in 2016, a considerable increase from 229 days in 2015.3 The number of days from application on prolongation to decision was 367 in 2016, down from 375 in 2015.4
- 1. Lag om tillfälliga begränsningar av möjligheten att få uppehållstillstånd i Sverige, 2016:752. For a summary in English, see: http://www.farr.se/en/att-soeka-asyl/the-temporary-law.
- 2. See e.g. Swedish Government, ‘Government proposes measures to create respite for Swedish refugee reception’, 24 November 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1lL0l9f.
- 3. Migration Agency, Annual Report 2016, 148.
- 4. Migration Agency, Annual Report 2016, para 5.2.