Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 10/07/24


Swedish Refugee Law Center Visit Website

Asylum-seeking children have full access to the Swedish preschool and school system, and they are to a great extent integrated in regular schools. It is the municipality where the asylum seeker live that is responsible for ensuring that asylum seeking children and young people get access to preschool and school under the same conditions as everyone else who lives in the municipality.  Small children who have turned one year old are entitled to attend preschool while their parents work or study. From the autumn term of the year in which the child turns three, he or she is also entitled to 15 hours of preschool per week without paying any fee.[1] Asylum seeking children 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 wish so. 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

Following several legislative changes[5] there have been (limited) possibilities to get a residence permit allowing applicants to continue their studies.[6] There were many factors that affected whether the person could get a residence permit for upper secondary education studies.

The duration of the residence permit depended inter alia on the length of the course and whether it was a national or induction programme. A residence permit could be granted for 4 years or 13 months. The applicant could also get a residence permit that was valid for 6 months after the course was completed. The amendment wasn’t only applicable to unaccompanied children; young persons coming to Sweden together with their families were also able to apply for a residence permit on the grounds of their upper secondary school studies. It also applied to people over the age of 18 but under 25.

There have been criticisms pointing out that very few people matched all criteria to be granted a 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.

The regulations on being able to get a residence permit for studies at upper secondary level or the equivalent ended on 20 December 2023. At the same time, the regulation on being able to get a residence permit to continue studying at an introductory programme also ended. It is therefore no longer possible to be granted a residence permit residence permit for studies at upper secondary level. The possibility to make subsequent applications based on the legislation will remain until 20 January 2025.[10]




[1] Migration Agency, Education – School for asylum seeking children, available at:

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

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

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

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

[6] Migration Agency, ‘Frågor och svar om uppehållstillstånd för gymnasiestudier’, 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:

[10] Lag (2017:353) om uppehållstillstånd för studerande på gymnasial nivå, SFS nr: 2017:353, 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