Overview of the main changes since the previous report update


Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 30/11/20


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The report was previously updated in March 2019.


Asylum procedure


  • Length of procedure: The average processing times significantly decreased in 2019. It took on average 288 days (i.e. 9,6 months) compared to 507 days (i.e. 16.9 months) in 2018. This is mainly due to the significant decrease in the number of applications for international protection and pending cases in the last years.


  • Age assessments: Age assessment procedures and the methods used in their context continue to be heavily criticised both by civil society organisations and medical experts. In May 2019, the Swedish Refugee Law Center and Civil Rights Defenders brought a case of a wrongful age assessment of an unaccompanied child and the violation of its rights before the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern). The case was rejected as the result of the age assessment conducted by the National Board of Forensic Medicine (Rättsmedicinalverket, RMV) indicated his majority. However, a second assessment conducted by private medical experts as well as several personal documents seemed to support the boy’s claim of being a minor.[1]


  • Subsequent applications: In order to be able to lodge a subsequent application, Swedish law foresees that “a valid reason” must be provided for not having presented new circumstances at an earlier stage of the procedure.[2]  However, the Migration Court of Appeal clarified on 10 April 2019 that, if there are reasonable grounds to assume that a foreigner would be in danger of death, corporal punishment, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment upon return to the relevant country, it is not required that the applicant shows a valid reason in order for a subsequent application to be admitted.[3]


  • Safe country of origin: The safe country of origin concept is not applicable in Sweden. However, on 19 June 2019, the government initiated an investigation regarding the possibility to introduce a list of safe countries of origin. A government memorandum was published on 30 January 2020, which outlines the legislative changes necessary to that end.[4] The government has expressed as a goal to implement the required legislative changes during the fall of 2020.


Reception conditions


  • Limitation to the right to private housing: On 1 January 2020, a new provision came into force which limits the right of asylum seekers to choose the place of residence during the asylum procedure.  It foresees that asylum seekers can lose their right to a daily allowance if they independently decide to secure private housing. As regards the choice of the place of residence for private housing, it must be located in a part of a municipality which – at the time of moving in and during the time the asylum seeker resides in it – is considered to face social and economic challenges. The government may issue instructions on which municipality is to be considered as such. However, this provision does not apply to cases where it is obviously unreasonable to withhold economic assistance.


Detention of asylum seekers


  • Length of detention: On 22 October 2019, the Migration Court of Appeal delivered a ruling in which it clarified that twelve months is the maximum time an alien may be held in detention for the purpose of enforcement of a removal order.[5]


  • New detention centre: A new detention centre was opened in Ljungbyhed in southern Sweden. There is now a total of six reception centres in the country, with a total of nine units and an overall capacity of 528 persons.


Content of international protection


  • Length of residence permits: On 18 June 2019, the Swedish Parliament (Riskdag) extended the Temporary Law on residence permits until July 2021.[6] The law, voted in July 2016, foresees reduced standards for individuals who have lodged an application for international protection since 24 November 2015. This means inter alia that beneficiaries granted refugee status and subsidiary protection will continue to receive residence permits valid for 3 years and 13 months respectively, rather than permanent residence permits.


  • Permanent residence permits for stateless persons: The extension of the Temporary Law includes a provision which allows for a permanent residence permit to be issued to a foreigner who was born in Sweden and who has been stateless since birth.


  • Family Reunification: The extension of the Temporary Law has removed the ban on family reunification for beneficiaries of the subsidiary protection. This is mainly the result of litigation efforts and the fact that the Migration Court of Appeal ruled in a case that the denial of family reunification for a young Syrian child was in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Articles 3, 9 and 10 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC).[7] The adopted provision grants the right to family reunification subsidiary protection status holders who have well-founded (“reasonable”) prospects of being granted a permanent residence permit.[8]


  • Infringement procedure: Following a complaint filed in 2018 by FARR and the Stockholm City Mission regarding Sweden’s violation of the applicable time limits to process applications for family reunification, the European Commission (EC) launched an infringement procedure through its letter of formal notice of 17 July 2019.[9]  According to information provided by the EC in February 2020, it is currently examining the response of the Swedish authorities to the letter of formal notice. The EC further stated that discussions are ongoing with the relevant Swedish authorities on several matters concerning beneficiaries of international protection, including delays for processing applications for work and granting residence permits. The Swedish authorities are reportedly working towards improving these procedures and reducing the processing times.


  • Future reform of Temporary Law: On 14 June 2019, the Swedish Government established a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry with the aim to draft proposals for Sweden’s future migration policies.[10] The Committee will look in particular into whether persons granted asylum should be issued temporary or permanent residence permits, the length of temporary permits (if temporary permits are proposed) and under which conditions permanent permits can be issued. The Committee will also consider whether a new ground for protection on humanitarian grounds should be introduced, who should be entitled to family reunification and if a maintenance requirement should be used and, if so, what it should entail. In addition, the Committee is also tasked with examining the rules applicable in other European Union (EU) Member States and assessing which possible pull-factors contribute to persons applying for asylum in Sweden. The Committee is expected to submit its conclusions to the Government on 20 August 2020.


[1] ECRE, ‘Sweden: Case against the State on Medical Age Assessment Before Chancellor of Justice’, 10 May 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3aJJ7Sx.

[2] Chapter 12 Section 19 of the Aliens Act

[3] Migration Court of Appeal, UM 12194-18, MIG 2019:5, 10 April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2XBNzg0.

[4] Ministry of Justice and Migration, Uppenbart ogrundade ansökningar och fastställande av säkra ursprungsländer Ds 2020:2, 30 January 2020, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3b4MpkN.

[5] Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2019:17.

[6] Swedish Riskdag, Extension of the law on temporary restrictions on the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden – Social Insurance Committee 2018/19: SfU26, 18 June 2019, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/34ltaAw.

[7] Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2018:20.

[8]Law on temporary restrictions on the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden, Section 6.

[9] European Commission, July infringements package: key decisions: https://bit.ly/2SEFyqs.

[10] Government of Sweden, Parlamentarisk kommitté ska utreda migrationspolitiken, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3fpADDJ.


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