Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 10/06/22


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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 They could, in principle, only be withdrawn if a person spent a major part of their time in another country or if a person was charged with a serious crime that involved deportation.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 in July 2016 with the adoption of a temporary law, valid for three years. [1]  The law was prolonged for an additional two year-period from July 2019 to July 2021 as a result of a political agreement between four parliamentary parties. The temporary law limited 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] A Cross-party Committee of Inquiry on Migration in Sweden was tasked with developing proposals for Sweden’s future migration policy that should be “sustainable in the long term”. On 22 June 2021 the Swedish Parliament voted in favour of introducing the proposed  changes  to the Aliens Act. These changes largely followed the proposal by the Committee of Inquiry, with some amendments by the government. The changes came into force on 20 July 2021, when the temporary law ended. According to the changes introduced, temporary residence permits are the general rule for beneficiaries of international protection; while resettled refugees are granted permanent permits. Residence permits should remain limited to three years for refugees and 13 months for subsidiary protection status holders, in both cases extendable by two years subject to a new assessment, as was already the case through the temporary law. Beneficiaries of international protection can get permanent residence permits after having temporary permit for at least three years, but need to demonstrate their ability to provide for themselves and, already as of the age of 15, so-called ‘good conduct’, i.e. can be expected to have an honest, non-criminal, lifestyle (vandelskrav).[3] The condition to provide for oneself does not apply to children, persons who are eligible for retirement pensions, or if there are other particular reasons. According to the proposal by the above-mentioned Cross-party Committee, in a later stage new conditions to demonstrate civic education skills, and a good knowledge of Swedish language will also be required to obtain a permanent residence permit.

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”, was suspended through the temporary law.[4] and was struck out of the Aliens Act as a consequence of the changes that came into force on 20 July 2021.

Convention refugees are, according to both the previous temporary law and the current Aliens Act, granted a three-year temporary permit with the right to Family Reunification. Maintenance and housing requirements have to be met if the application is made more than three months after the reference person has received his/her status. Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are granted an initial period of 13 months temporary residence permit with the same right to family reunification as refugees. The residence 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 the duration of the permit. During that period the person has the same right to medical care as a person with a permanent residence permit.

Until 19 July 2021, persons whose removal would contravene Sweden’s international convention-based obligations and who do not qualify for Convention refugee status or subsidiary protection status could be granted an initial temporary permit of thirteen months which could be prolonged for two years if the grounds persist. The circumstances in the case must also had been considered as being particularly distressing. As of 20 July 2021, the condition that a removal would contravene Sweden’s international convention-based obligations no longer applies. A temporary residence permit may be granted when the circumstances in the case are particularly (for children) or exceptionally (for adults) distressing. The circumstances regarding the applicant’s health condition, his/her private life in Sweden, and the situation in his/her country of origin should be taken into account when assessing this ground for a residence permit. An adult who has already lived in Sweden with a temporary residence permit and has acquired a particular affiliation with Sweden will need to show particularly, and not exceptionally, distressing circumstances. The initial temporary permit is granted for thirteen months, it could be prolonged for two years if the grounds persist. 443 first time applicants were granted permits for these reasons in 2021.[5]  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.

In 2021, the Migration Agency granted residence permits in 3,310 first time asylum applications,[6] down from 4,922 in 2020 and from 6,540 in 2019 .

The Migration Agency resettled 6,411 refugees in 2021. In 2020 the Agency’s resettlement was paused in March 2020 due to Covid-19 but was resumed again in August. In total, 3,599 refugees were resettled during 2020, although the Migration Agency was tasked with resettling 5,000 that year. In 2021, the resettlement quota was therefore larger than the past years as the remaining 1,400 refugees were transferred to the 2021 quota. Among the resettled refugees 1,500 were Afghans, many of them evacuated from Afghanistan in a special evacuation operation performed by the Migration Agency and other Swedish Agencies.[7] Evacuated Afghans were treated in the same manner as other resettled refugees.

The vast majority of beneficiaries of international protection applying for a renewal of their temporary residence permits have had it granted. In 2021, the Migration Agency received 32,008 applications and took decisions in 27,801 cases. The acceptance rate in cases tried on the merits was 97%.The vast majority of decisions on extensions of residence permits concerned Syrians (9,826 decisions, of which 9,504 were granted, or 99% of those tried on the merits), Afghans (6,445 cases, of which 5,935were granted, or 95% of those tried on the merits), Iraqis (1,704 decisions, of which 1,607 were granted, or 98% of those tried on the merits), Eritreans (2,723 decisions, of which 2,638 were granted, or 100% of those tried on the merits) and ), and Iran (1,158 decisions, of which 1,137 were granted, or 100% of those tried on the merits . The average processing time for applications to extend residence permits based on protection status was 193 days in 2021.[8]

During 2020 the Swedish Embassy in Tehran postponed all interviews from 17 August 2020 due to COVID-19. The Embassy in Tehran again started to conduct interviews in January 2021, and other Embassies also remained open. The Migration Agency has continued to conduct interviews, while taking precautionary measures such as the use of plastic shields or interviews by videoconference. Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 made it difficult for some applicants to travel to Embassies to submit or attend appointments in relation to their application..[9]




[1] Lag om tillfälliga begränsningar av möjligheten att få uppehållstillstånd i Sverige, 2016:752, available at: :

[2]  See e.g. Swedish Government, ‘Government proposes measures to create respite for Swedish refugee reception’, 24 November 2015, available at:

[3] SOU 2020:54, En långsiktigt hållbar migrationspolitik, available in Swedish at:, 25-28

[4] Section 3 of the Temporary Law. The temporary law only allows for this protection status to be granted to children and families with children who applied for asylum before 24 November 2015, provided that the child in question is still underaged when the decision is issued. Asylum applications from persons meeting these conditions have most likely already been processed.

[5] Migration Agency, Monthly statistical report December 2021 :

[6] Migration Agency, Monthly statistical report December 2021.

[7] Migration Agency, Annual Report 2020, available in Swedish at:, 56.

[8] Migration Agency, Monthly statistical report December 2020, 10-11.

[9] Swedish Migration Agency, The embassy in Tehran is postponing all interviews until 2021, available at:

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