The report was previously updated in May 2022.
- Key asylum statistics at first instance: In 2022, 16,738 preliminary applications for international protection were lodged in Sweden. This marks an increase of 48% from 2021, compared to a more than 50% EU-wide. Most first-time applications were lodged by nationals of Afghanistan (2,009), Ukraine (1,976), Syria (1,379), Iraq (1,266) and Russia (746). At first instance, the overall recognition rate was 37%, a slight increase from 32% in 2021. The recognition rate for Afghans was 60%; 90% for Syrian nationals. The backlog of pending cases at the end of 2022 was 6,859, a slight increase from 2021. The average length of proceedings further decreased from 256 days in 2021 to 166 days in 2022. 9,307 subsequent applications were lodged, particularly from nationals from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Ukraine.
- The Government platform agreement – Tidö Agreement: In the agreement between the parties in the new government (formed in October 2022) and the Sweden Democrats, the Tidö Agreement, it is stated that a review of the asylum process will be conducted with the aim of enhancing its quality, consistency, and legal certainty. The review shall among other things look at criteria for legal representatives, interpreters and lay judges and the assessment of conversion and LGBTQI+ cases. The agreement also states that a review will be done of the existing regulations on safe countries of origin to allow for countries where parts of the country can be considered safe to be brought up on the list. They also consider shifting responsibility for the list of safe countries from the Swedish Migration Agency to Government Offices. The Government has initiated an information campaign about the so called ‘paradigm shift’ in migration policies, with information provided to Swedish foreign missions and targeted communication to foreign news agencies.
- Right to stay: In February 2022, the Migration Court of Appeal ruled in the case MIG 2022:2 that, in a case where a family member presents new grounds for asylum during the proceedings in the Migration Court, the starting point should be that the assessment of the family member’s right to reside in Sweden is kept together until the entire family’s right to stay in Sweden can be determined.
- Migration Courts’ procedural duties: The Migration Court of Appeal ruled in May 2022 in case MIG 2022:4, that the Migration Court’s investigative responsibility becomes relevant when it is clear that the appellant has communication difficulties and that these may have affected both the appellant’s ability to explain his reasons for asylum and the assessment of the appellant’s credibility.
- Age assessment: following the interim report of the specific inquiry in 2021, the National Board of Forensic Medicine published an updated methodology on 5 September 2022, containing a more comprehensive account of uncertainties and factors affecting the model. However, in December 2022 the new Swedish government decided to discontinue the inquiry, which was supposed to continue working and publish final findings by May 2024 at the latest, a decision criticised by several organisations.
- Family unity: In November 2022, the Migration Court of Appeal ruled in case MIG 2022:9 and expressed that the principle of family unit does not include a separate right to refugee status for a family member to a refugee if the family member lacks individual protection grounds.
- Afghanistan: In December 2022, the Migration Agency published new legal guidance on Afghanistan, in which it assessed that the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan was so severe that they should be regarded as refugees in general.
- The Government platform agreement – Tidö Agreement: According to the political agreement between the Government political parties and the Sweden Democrats the migration legislation will be subject to comprehensive changes with the aim of restricting the rights of asylum seekers to a minimum level in accordance with international obligations. In the agreement they also intend to end altogether the possibility for asylum seekers to choose and arrange their own accommodation. It is proposed that transit centres where asylum seekers are to spend the entire asylum process be introduced. An ongoing inquiry will be given new instructions to analyse and develop proposals on this.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Detention conditions: In March 2022 the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO) made an inspection in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture at the detention centre in Märsta. JO expressed concerns about several issues: detainees secluded for longer periods of time; secluded rooms having camera surveillance all day long, a very serious breach of a person’s privacy; personal information about the detainees written by staff on boards in a manner that made it possible for other detainees to see. In a decision dated in May 2022 the Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concerns at the very serious allegations concerning the lack of appropriate treatment provided to a detainee in Sweden for his health condition and recalled that all persons detained must be treated with humanity.
Content of international protection
- The Government platform agreement – Tidö Agreement: According to the political agreement in October 2022 between the new Government political parties and the Sweden Democrats a new inquiry shall propose additional conditions to qualify for Swedish citizenship, such as longer habitual residence, and sufficient resources to maintain oneself. The agreement also expresses that further restrictions and conditions for family reunification shall be assessed by an inquiry.
- Family reunification: In December 2022, the Migration Court of Appeal ruled in case MIG 2022:11 and found that when determining the age of the sponsor the relevant time should be the time of application for family reunification if the reference person is under 18 years when the application for family reunification is lodged. There shall be no condition that the application must be lodged within three months from the decision of residence permit for the reference person if the reference person is under 18 years at the time of application. In September 2022, the SMA issued a legal position in 2022 regarding the relevant time for determining the age of the applicant or the sponsor. For a child who apply to a reunite with a parent in Sweden the relevant time is the time of application for family reunification, or, in cases when the application for family reunification is made within three months from when the parent was granted residence permit and protection status the relevant time is when the parent applied for asylum. For a parent who applies to reunite with a child in Sweden the relevant time for determining the age of the child/reference person is the time of application for family reunification, or, in cases when the child was under 18 years when applying for asylum but has turned 18 years at the time of application for family reunification, that child is still considered as a child if the application for family reunification was lodged within three months from the date the child was granted residence permit.
- Key temporary protection statistics: In 2022, the Swedish Migration Agency registered 50,357 applications for temporary protection. Of those applications, 49,275 were Ukrainian nationals, and 203 were Russian nationals. The Migration Agency took decisions in 49,266 of these applications, and of those tried on the merits, 47,310 (100%) were granted residence permit.
Temporary protection procedure
- Asylum and expulsion enforcement: On 24 February 2022, the Swedish Migration Agency decided to suspend decision-making in Ukrainian asylum cases and to suspend the enforcement of expulsion decisions to Ukraine. The Temporary Protection Directive has been transposed into Swedish law and can be found in Ch. 21 of the Aliens Act.
- Scope of temporary protection: after initially only granting Temporary protection to persons falling within the narrow scope of persons eligible for protection under the EU Council decision, for persons who left on or after 24 February 2022, the Government decided to expand the scope to also include persons falling within the scope of article 2.1 and 2.2 of the European Council’s implementing decision, who had entered Sweden from 30 October 2021 to 23 February 2022 and remained in the country.
- Online procedure: The Swedish Migration Agency developed online tools for applying for Temporary Protection, both for first-time applicants and for those applying for extensions.
Content of temporary protection
- Financial support: Temporary protection holders are only provided with financial support at the same low level as for asylum-seekers, which has not been increased since 1994, and are only entitled to healthcare that cannot be postponed.