Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

Sweden

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 21/04/21

Author

Swedish Refugee Law Center Visit Website
Name in English Number of staff at the end of 2020 Ministry responsible Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision-making in individual cases by the determining authority?
Migration Agency 5,551 Ministry of Justice  No

Source: Migration Agency, Annual Report 2020, Dnr: 1.3.2-2021-1600, 18.

 

Swedish administrative system

The administrative system in Sweden differs other European countries in terms of division of tasks. All government decisions in Sweden are collective and all public agencies are subordinate to – but independent from – the government. Unlike in other countries, Swedish Secretaries of State, or ministers, have limited discretion to take independent decisions. All government decisions are taken jointly by the Government. Different Secretaries of State are responsible for different areas and may also act as heads of ministries. Some tasks performed by ministries in other countries are performed by civil service departments in Sweden, which are overseen by a ministry.

As a general rule, the Ministry of Justice and other Government Offices cannot intervene in individual cases concerning applicants for international protection. However, in cases concerning serious threats to national security, the Act concerning Special Controls in Respect of Aliens may be used (1991:572).[1] According to Section 2, the latter Act becomes applicable upon request of the Swedish Security Service. An expulsion decision is, however, always issued by the Migration Agency at first instance. According to Section 2 (a) of the Act, the Migration Agency’s decision can be appealed to the Government.

According to Section 3 of the Act, an appeal of an expulsion decision issued by the Migration Agency shall be handed over to the Migration Court of Appeal, who shall submit an opinion of the merits in the case, and thereafter hand the case over to the government for a final decision. In its submission, the Migration Court of Appeal should address whether there are impediments in accordance with Chapter 12 Section 1-2 of the Swedish Alien’s Act [non-refoulment] against the enforcement of the expulsion decision. If the Migration Court of Appeal considers that there are such impediments, the Government cannot deviate from that assessment. Since 2012 and up until the end of 2020, the Act concerning Special Controls in Respect of Aliens has been used in 40 cases.[2]

Swedish Migration Agency

The Migration Agency is the central administrative authority in the area of asylum. It is responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance. It further takes decisions on work permits, family reunification, adoption, studies, and citizenship and is also responsible for operating detention centres.

The Migration Agency is subordinate to the Government as a whole and reports to the Ministry of Justice, with which it cooperates at various levels. According to Swedish legislation, the Migration Agency, as is the case with all authorities, is fully independent from the Government as well as the Parliament in relation to individual decisions and the Government is prohibited from influencing its decisions.[3] This also applies to the Agency’s policy on different topics. The Migration Agency coordinates and divides tasks between the divisions of Asylum, Managed Migration and Citizenship, thereby upholding due process and ensuring effective case management in line with Sweden’s Alien and Citizenship Act. The Migration Agency is also responsible for aliens without residence permits, i.e. until they obtain a permit and have settled in a municipality. Legal provisions pertaining to the Migration Agency are found primarily in the 2005 Aliens Act and the 2019 Ordinance with Instructions for the Migration Agency.

The Migration Agency is headed by a Director General, who is appointed by the government. The Migration Agency’s head office consists of the Senior Management, the Director-Generals staff and departments supporting the operational activities. This includes the Digitalisation and Development Department, the Planning Department, the Legal Affairs Department, the Communications Department, the Human Resources Department, and the Operation Support Department. [4] The head office is located in Norrköping.

Stand-alone functions are the internal audit, the supervisory unit and the agency’s fund management, which all report directly to the director-general. There is also a dedicated unit to Dublin procedures and a separate country of origin unit (LIFOS). LIFOS produces reports and conducts missions to certain countries in order to assess and analyse the political situation in a particular country or region. The Migration agency has access to a variety of COI reports issued by other countries and organisations through its database, LIFOS. It is the caseworker’s duty to regularly update themselves on relevant country of origin information. Caseworkers are generally required to hold a degree in law and/or political science to be working on asylum-related matters. Regarding other training of staff, some specialised trainings are offered for caseworkers who interview children, based on the EASO Training Curriculum (ETC) module Interviewing Children. Case officers that have completed this training may process claims by unaccompanied children. Similar trainings have been carried out and instructions issued in relation to female refugee claimants and claimants with LGBTQI grounds – the Interviewing vulnerable persons and SOGI ETC training module.

Quality control and assurance within the Migration Agency

The Migration Agency works with quality control and assurance on a regular basis and in different ways. The overall goal of quality assurance is to ensure that all decisions that have been taken are formally and materially correct, as well as to ensure a uniform application of the law and case management based on current legislation and the applicant’s individual circumstances. The Migration Agency has a number of mandatory indicators within the framework of quality follow-ups that should always be considered within a quality framework assessment, especially processing times. These quality indicators cover the following aspects: [5]

  1. Has the investigation been conducted according to the nature of the case? Was there too little or too much investigation?
  2. If an investigation has not been carried out according to the nature of the case, explain what has not been investigated according to the nature of the case?
  3. Is the language used simple and understandable?
  4. Is the outcome of the case correct?
  5. Is the classification of the decision correct? (if appropriate)
  6. Is the length of the permit granted correct? (if appropriate)

The outcome of quality control exercises in Sweden is only made public upon request.

Staffing within the Migration Agency[6]

The Migration Agency had 5,551 employees by the end of 2020. Out of the total number of employees in 2020, 311 were working as case officers and 176 as decision makers in in asylum cases.[7]In 2019, the average age was 40 for women and 42 for men. 33 % of the work force had been employed less than five years. The average period of employment was 8.1 years. 91% were full-time staff.[8]

In 2020, the Migration Court in Malmö changed the decision of the Migration Agency in 11.3% of the asylum cases, followed by the Migration Court of Gothenburg (11%), the Migration Court of Luleå (9.7%) and the Migration Court of Stockholm (4.6%).[9] In total, 7% of the decisions were changed by the Migration Courts and a further 5% were remitted, which marks a decrease compared to 2019 when the Migration Courts changed the decision of the Migration Agency in 17 % of cases and a further 12% of cases were remitted.

The Migration Agency was criticised for underreporting suspects of war crimes and has increased its reporting of suspected war crimes to the police from 52 cases in 2017 to 135 in 2018.[10] In 2019, the Migration Agency reported 123 suspected war crimes to the police.[11] In 2020, the Agency reported 86 suspected war crimes.[12]

 

 

[1]  Act concerning Special Controls in Respect of Aliens, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3bafx94.

[2] This includes: 1 case in 2012/2013; 2 cases in 2013/2014; 1 case in 2014/2015; 7 cases in 2015/2016; 4 cases in 2016/2017; 2 cases in 2017/2018; 11 cases in 2018/2019 and 12 cases in 2019/2020. These numbers include cases concerning requests for reassessments of previously issued expulsion decisions. See: Government, regeringens skrivelse 2020/2021:69, 2020 års redogörelse för tillämpningen av lagen om särskild utlänningskontroll. 17 December 2020, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/38qBbHV.  

[3] Instrument of Government, Ch. 12, Section 2, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3ccbSJ7.

[4] The Migration Agency, Our organisation, http://bit.ly/2P6GRQ7.

[5] The Migration Agency, Kvalitetsuppföljningar av rättslig kvalitet i Migrationsverkets processer, RC A – 04/2019.

[6] Geographical overview of Migration Agency’s regional divisions, available in Swedish at Migration Agency website at https://bit.ly/3syur23.  

[7] Information from the Migration Agency in February 2020.

[8] Migration Agency, Annual Report 2019, 19 February 2020, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/382Zbh6, 133.

[9]Swedish Refugee Law Center, Rapport – trender i vår ärendehantering och de viktigaste förändringarna på asylrättens område under år 2020, 21.

[10]Migration Agency, ‘Reports of suspected war crimes are increasing’, 28 March 2019, available at:   https://bit.ly/2vjtNJY.

[11] Information from The Migration Agency in January 2019.

[12] Migration Agency, Annual report 2020, 89, Dnr: 1.3.2-2021-1600.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – I Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation