Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Sweden

Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 21/04/21

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In Sweden, all asylum applicants have access to the benefits of the reception system, granting them the possibility 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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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. Although 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).[5] 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.[6]

In 2020, access to reception was not restricted as a result of COVID-19. The Migration Agency maintained the possibility to apply for asylum and subsequently to access the reception system. Moreover in 2020, new rules have been implemented for asylum-seekers who choose to settle in so-called socio-economically challenged areas. The rules foresee that these persons are no longer entitled to a daily allowance.[7] The aim with this measure is to combat segregation and encourage more asylum-seekers to settle in areas with better prospects. Municipalities could report if certain areas or the whole municipality was “socio-economically” challenged. The government decided that the Country Administrative Boards shall decide which areas may be considered as “socio-economically challenged”.[8] As of the end of 2020, a total of 11 municipalities reported that their municipality was facing socio-economic challenges. However, the legislation covers 32 municipalities.[9]

Recent 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”. Between the 1 July and 30 December of 2020, 2,195 asylum seekers settled in such areas.[10]

 

 

[1]  Section 17, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.

[2]  Section 15, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.

[3]  Sections 11-12a, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.

[4]  Sections 11, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.

[5] 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).

[6]  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: http://bit.ly/2Fw1wr7; VSIU, Report about Legal Uncertainties in the Asylum Process For Unaccompanied Minors in Sweden, 26 February 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2FEuiD2; Rapport om rättsosäkerhet i asylprocessen för ensamkommande barn och unga, September 2017, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/2C5QySC.

[7] Section 10a, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137

[8]  Regeringskansliet. Regeringen beslutar om nya regler för att motverka att områden utan sociala och ekonomiska utmaningar undatas ebo-lagstiftningen. Available at: https://bit.ly/3ay9WuQ

[9]  Migration Agency, Nu finns Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.

[9] Section 15, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137den första förteckningen över områden som omfattas av nya EBO-regler. Available at: https://bit.ly/3jf4alG

[10]  SVT,  Migrationsverket ser ingen tydlig effekt av nya ebo-lagen, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3k1cCW7.

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