Under the Law on the Reception of Asylum Seekers (LMA), asylum seeker’s allowance can be reduced for adults if they refuse to cooperate in the asylum procedure or refuse to abide by an expulsion order. A lack of cooperation may consist e.g. in refusing to take measures to obtain identity documents or refusing to appear at arranged appointments with the Migration Agency. Persons that were not returned or deported from Sweden can thus end up living with such a low allowance for many years.
According to the LMA the right to financial assistance ceases when there is a deportation decision that is legally enforceable and when the time limit for voluntary departure (which is usually four weeks) has expired. In 2022, there were 18,922 persons with legally enforceable removal orders registered with the Migration Agency. According to Section 11 LMA, the right to financial assistance does not end if the decision on rejection or deportation cannot be enforced as a result of the Migration Agency or a court having decided on inhibition or having granted a new trial in accordance with ch. 12. Section 19 of the Aliens Act. Section 11 LMA also states that it is possible to allow a person continued financial assistance if it is considered “obviously unreasonable” to cease this right.
A decision by the Migration Agency to reduce or cease aid may be appealed to the Administrative Court. An appeal must be submitted no later than three weeks after that the person concerned was notified of the decision. In June 2017 the Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta Förvaltningsdomstolen), decided that a rejected asylum seeker who is absent or not cooperating to follow a removal decision falls under the scope of the LMA-regime and therefore does not have the right to any social or emergency aid according to the Social Services Act. This applies even though the person is not entitled to any aid under the LMA. Bearing in mind that it is very hard to be considered as cooperating in the enforcement of a removal decision, the ‘cooperation criterion’ excludes all absconded families from any social aid.
In June 2018, the Supreme Administrative Court decided on social aid for an irregularly residing migrant who had never been subject to the LMA regime. According to the court, applicants in an irregular situation have the right to emergency aid, and in extraordinary situations the aid can even exceed that threshold. In this case, such an extraordinary situation applied as the applicant could not be deported because he was subject to forensic psychiatric care, a penalty due to criminal activity. Since deportation was not an option under these circumstances the Court concluded that the applicant should be treated in the same way as applicants who had been granted residence permits with regard to the Social service Act.
In a judgment of 2019 concerning an adult Bidoon from Kuwait, the Administrative Court of Appeal of Stockholm stated that the applicant had not taken sufficient initiatives to try and leave Sweden for example by obtaining a certificate from the Kuwaiti authorities stating he would not be admitted to Kuwait. His appeal concerning the right to remuneration and housing was therefore denied.
On 3 May 2021, the Supreme Administrative Court decided on whether a refusal to cooperate to leave the country is an act falling within the scope of Section 10 of the LMA, which states that aid can be reduced if a person without a valid reason refuses to cooperate to an action necessary in the process of enforcing a removal decision. The court ruled in the affirmative.
Asylum seekers that have been allowed to work during the asylum process may continue to work until they leave the country or until their decision becomes final. The right to work ceases to apply if the person does not participate in the enforcement of their decision on rejection or deportation when it has become legally binding.
 Section 10, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Section 11, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Migration Agency, Monthly statistical report for December 2022, including year-end numbers, Dnr: 22.214.171.124-2022-1381.
 Section 22, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Supreme Administrative Court, Decision 1527–1529-16, 5 June 2017, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/3HwXeOX.
 Supreme Administrative Court, Decision 4464-17 and 6418-17, 11 June 2018, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/3JejjCQ.
 Administrative Court of Appeal of Stockholm, UM 4419-19.
 Supreme Administrative Court, HFD 2021:4, Mål: 4234-20 – Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen, available at: https://bit.ly/3Lr0ZnF.