Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 16/04/24


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Asylum seeking children have full access to the Swedish school system and they are to a great extent integrated in regular schools. They are not covered by the law obliging children between the ages of 6 and 16 to attend school but have the right to attend, if they so wish. The right to go to school has also been confirmed in law for those children still present in Sweden with an expulsion order and who have absconded with their parents.[1]

Children between 16 and 18 often have to attend a preparatory course to improve their skills in Swedish and other core subjects before being able to access vocational education. Nevertheless, once they have gone through this preparatory phase they are not prohibited in theory from taking a vocational course. If a teenager begins a 3-year course at the age of 16 or 17 and is still in Sweden without a permit 2 years later, they will be allowed to continue their course. However, persons who are over 18 upon arrival in Sweden have no right to access secondary education. This being said, there is nothing that officially restricts or stops municipalities from offering secondary education if they have the possibility to enrol more students.[2]

Children also have the right to lessons in their own mother tongue on a regular basis, if there are more than 5 pupils with the same language in the area. Itinerant mother tongue teachers are employed for that purpose.[3]

Following several legislative changes[4] there are (limited) possibilities to get a residence permit allowing applicants to continue their studies.[5] There are many factors that may affect whether the person may get a residence permit for upper secondary education studies. The rules are different for asylum seekers and for people with a temporary residence permit that they wish to extend. The rules also vary depending on whether the person is an unaccompanied child, whether they are studying on a national program or on an induction programme, and in some cases on the date the first application for asylum was received, the duration of the processing time of the asylum application at first instance and whether the asylum seeker was considered to be an adult or a child at the date of the first instance decision.

The duration of the residence permit depends inter alia on the length of the course and whether it is a national or induction programme. A residence permit can be granted for 4 years or 13 months. The applicant can also get a residence permit that is valid for 6 months after the course is completed. The amendment is not only applicable to unaccompanied children; young persons coming to Sweden together with their families may also apply for a residence permit on the grounds of their upper secondary school studies. It also applies to people over the age of 18 but under 25.[6]

There have been criticisms pointing out that very few people match all criteria to be granted residence permit on this ground.[7] On 1 July 2018, a new legislation was introduced which made it easier to be granted residence permit to finish secondary education. Those who met the criteria in the new provisions were able to re-apply for a residence permit.[8] By August 2019, 7,303 persons were granted residence permits based on this provision.[9] This specific provision was only in force for a limited period. No new residence permits can now be granted based on this provision further to first-time applications.

No particular issues were reported regarding the access to education during COVID-19 as schools remained open, although some teaching classes were also organised remotely.




[1] Swedish Parliament, Betänkande 2012/13:UbU12 Utbildning för barn som vistas i landet utan tillstånd, available at:

[2] Skolverket, Nyanländas rätt till utbildning, available in Swesidh at:

[3]  The 2011 School Regulation (Skolförordningen 2011:185), Chapter 5, Paragraph 7.

[4] For an overview see AIDA, Country Report Sweden, 2021 Update, May 2022, available at:, 101.

[5] Migration Agency, ‘Frågor och svar om uppehållstillstånd för gymnasiestudier’, available in Swedish at:

[6] Swedish Refugee Law Center, Kan jag få uppehållstillstånd enligt gymnasielagen, available in Swedish at:

[7] Swedish Television, ‘Migrationsverket: ”Gymnasielagen ingen räddning’, 6 October 2017, available in Swedish at:

[8] Section 16 f, Law on temporary limitations to the possibility of being granted a residence permit in Sweden.

[9] Swedish Red Cross, Mitt liv räknas, February 2020, available in Swedish at:

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