In Sweden, all asylum applicants have access to the benefits of the reception system, allowing them to access housing and a daily allowance. An exception applies to certain applicants since 2016 (e.g. persons subject to a deportation order etc.), as is explained further below. If they have resources, they are required to use these first, as the provision of reception conditions is conditional upon a lack of sufficient resources. Upon the lodging of the asylum application, the Migration Agency reception officer enquires about the applicant’s financial situation.
Daily allowance should only be paid to a foreigner who does not have sufficient funds. An individual assessment must be made. If applicants have or obtain access to cash, bank deposits, or other assets that are easily converted into cash and cash equivalents, they must primarily use these for their livelihood. The applicants’ ability to use any assets that exist in another country for their daily life should also be taken into account. Such an individual needs test is a prerequisite for the application of the provisions on reduction of the daily allowance.
Following an amendment to the Reception of Asylum Seekers Act (LMA) introduced in 2016 some applicants no longer have the right to reception conditions. Applicants who have received a decision on refusal of entry or deportation which can no longer be appealed, or whose period for voluntary return has ended, lose their right to reception conditions i.e. the right to a daily allowance and accommodation provided by the Migration Agency. If they refuse to leave their accommodation at that point, they may be forcibly removed and be subject to criminal sanctions. Consequently, many persons in this situation are left destitute and homeless or reliant on support from individuals or civil society organisations. In cases where it is considered “obviously unreasonable” to cease the right to reception conditions, the right to such conditions will not cease and particularly vulnerable persons can therefore be exempted.
Restricted access to reception conditions are also applied to subsequent applicants. Subsequent applicants who are adults are not able to get subsidised health care or medicines. However, they always have the right to emergency health care (health care that cannot be deferred, maternal healthcare, healthcare related to abortion and health care in relation to contraception). If subsequent applicants are comprised of a family with children, they are entitled to a reduced allowance as adults but standard allowance for children and have a right to accommodation. These restrictive changes have led to criticism from civil society, as organisations such as the Red Cross have pointed out that the reform has led more people to turn to civil society organisations to ask for assistance with accommodation, food and health care.
Another situation where a person in need of protection may be exempted from the benefits of the reception system is where the applicant already has a residence permit in Sweden but wants to be granted protection status. The Supreme Administrative Court has found that in such situations the persons do not fall within the scope of LMA and thus cannot claim assistance for accommodation and allowances for asylum applicants.
Reception conditions were not restricted as a result of COVID-19. The Migration Agency maintained the ability to apply for asylum and subsequently to access the reception system.
In 2020, new rules were implemented for asylum-seekers who choose to settle in so-called socio-economically challenged areas. These persons are no longer entitled to a daily allowance. The aim with this measure was to combat segregation and encourage more asylum-seekers to settle in areas with better prospects. Municipalities can report if certain areas or the whole municipality is “socio-economically” challenged. The Country Administrative Boards decide which areas may be considered as “socio-economically challenged”. The legislation covers 32 municipalities.
Reports from the Swedish Migration Agency indicate that this legislative change did not result in a change of practice yet, as asylum seekers continue to settle in “socio-economically challenged areas”. According to the Swedish Migration Agency 3,067 asylum seekers settled in such areas in 2021. In 2022, 6,526 asylum seekers settled in such areas.
On 14 October 2022 the parties in the now new Government and the Sweden Democrats expressed in the Tidö Agreement that it intends to end altogether the opportunity for asylum seekers to choose and arrange their own accommodation. The government wants to introduce transit centres where asylum seekers are to spend the entire asylum process. An ongoing inquiry will be given new instructions to analyse and develop proposals on this.
 Section 17, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Section 15, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Sections 11-12a, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Sections 11, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Section 7, Law (2013: 407) on health care for certain foreigners staying in Sweden without the necessary permits (Lag (2013:407) om hälso- och sjukvård till vissa utlänningar som vistas i Sverige utan nödvändiga tillstånd).
 Sections 11-12a, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137; Swedish Red Cross, Consequences of the amendment to Sweden’s Reception of Asylum Seekers Act, 2016, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3XFLfEc; VSIU, Report about Legal Uncertainties in the Asylum Process For Unaccompanied Minors in Sweden, 26 February 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/3Jbwqoz; Rapport om rättsosäkerhet i asylprocessen för ensamkommande barn och unga, September 2017, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/2C5QySC
 Section 10a, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137
 See section 7a-7c, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Förordning (2018:151) om statsbidrag till kommuner med socioekonomiskt eftersatta områden Svensk författningssamling 2018:2018:151 t.o.m. SFS 2020:1266 – Riksdagen, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/3J9kAeC. To check whether an area is considered ”socio-economically challenged” it is possible to use this site: http://bit.ly/3XE3Wbj
 Information received 11th of January 2023 from the Statistics Unit at the Swedish Migration Agency via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
 Information received 11th of January 2023 from the Statistics Unit at the Swedish Migration Agency via e-mail.