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 with 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. The restriction of material reception conditions is not applied to children, however.
Asylum seekers have the right to appeal these decisions to the Administrative Courts, however appeals are almost always rejected. These reductions are phased and amount initially to 35-40% of the allowance as indicated in the section on Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions. 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 2020, there were 6,594 persons with legally enforceable removal orders registered with the Migration Agency and who had not absconded in this situation. They also lose the right to work after a final decision is taken on their case. However, according to Section 11 LMA, if a deportation decision is not practically enforceable and the applicant has cooperated to the furthest extent possible, then there could be an exemption from the removal of aid. This always applies if there are minor children in the household but the level of support for the adults is in any case also when such exemption is granted, reduced from 61 SEK/6.02 EUR a day to 42 SEK/4.15 EUR. However, if the family goes into hiding or leaves the reception system then no allowance is paid.
A stated above, a decision by the Migration Agency to 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 an 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. According to the Court this applies even though the person is not entitled to any aid according to LMA. Bearing in mind that it is very hard to be considered as cooperating in the enforcement of a removal decision, the ‘cooperation criteria’ basically 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. In this case, 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 this led the court to conclude 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.
At the time of writing of this report, there was another case pending before the Supreme Administrative Court. The Court has to clarify 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.
 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 2020, including year-end numbers, DNR: 126.96.36.199-2020-143, 21
 Section 22, Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others, 1994:137.
 Administrative Court of Appeal of Stockholm, UM 4419-19.
 Supreme Administrative Court, Case 4234-20.