Asylum regulations

On this page you can read about who can be granted asylum i Sweden. A person who wants to receive protection in Sweden must submit an application for asylum at one of the Migration Agency application units, or with the border police when entering Sweden. The Migration Agency cannot approve an application which has been submitted at a Swedish embassy. Those who are not able to come to Sweden to apply for protection can turn to the UNHCR.

Asylum seeker

An asylum seeker is a person who makes their way to Sweden and applies for protection (asylum) here, but whose application is not yet decided.

Reasons to grant asylum seekers residence permits

Sweden has signed the UN ConventionRelating to the Status of Refugees. This entails, among other things, that Sweden shall examine each asylum application individually. The individual examination includes taking the applicant's gender and sexual orientation into account; e.g., whether the applicant is homosexual, bisexual or transgender.

Sweden shall grant a residence permit to a person who is a refugee in accordance with the UN Convention but also to persons in need of "subsidiary protection" in accordance with joint EU regulations as well as other persons in need of protection in accordance with the national Aliens Act.


In accordance with the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Swedish legislation and EU regulations, a person is classed a refugee when they have well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to:

  • race;
  • nationality;
  • religious or political beliefs;
  • gender;
  • sexual orientation; or
  • affiliation to a particular social group.

The persecution may originate from the authorities of the native country. It may also be the case that the authorities are unable or unwilling to offer protection against persecution from individuals or groups.

A person who is granted a residence permit as a refugee can request to receive a refugee status declaration; internationally acknowledged status based on both the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and EU regulations.

A person who is not a refugee in accordance with the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees may also be eligible for a residence permit as a person in need of protection. There are two categories of protection in the Aliens Act:

  • subsidiary protection (in accordance with EU regulations)
  • other protection (in accordance with Swedish legislation)

Subsidiary protection

A person deemed in need of subsidiary protection is one who:

  • is at risk of being sentenced to death
  • is at risk of being subjected to corporal punishment, torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment or
  • as a civilian at serious risk of injury due to armed conflict.

A person granted a residence permit as a person in need of subsidiary protection may receive subsidiary refugee status declaration based on EU regulation.

Other protection

Other protection is a category that only exists in the Swedish Aliens Act; it has no equivalent in international conventions and in EU legislation.
An asylum seeker may be assessed as a person in need of other protection if he or she

  • cannot return to their native country due to armed conflict or due to serious opposition in the native country
  • feels a well-founded fear of being subjected to serious violation or
  • cannot return to their native country due to an environmental disaster.

Persons in need of other protection may receive refugee status declaration but this is only applicable in Sweden.

Exceptionally distressing circumstances in exceptional cases

Asylum seekers may, in exceptional cases, be granted a residence permit, even if they do not need protection from persecution. This relates to exceptionally distressing circumstances directly linked to their personal circumstances, such as a exceptionally serious health issue, adaptation in Sweden and the situation in their native country. A collected assessment of such circumstances may result in a residence permit. Children can be granted a residence permit if there are particularly distressing circumstances.

In these instances as it is not a matter of offering protection, refugee status declaration is not applicable.

Permanent residence permit is most common

Regardless of whether a person is granted status declaration as a refugee, subsidiary protection, other protection or is granted a residence permit due to particularly distressing circumstances, the most common occurrence is that the residence permit is without time limitation – "permanent residence permit" (PUT). In exceptional cases, the period of validity may be restricted but the permit is never valid for less than one year.

The Dublin Regulation determines where the asylum application is examined

Here you can read more about the Dublin Regulation.

Asylum seeking children

The Aliens Act states that the Swedish Migration Agency shall take special consideration to the best interest of the child. All children, who can and wish to, have the right to speak and be heard. The asylum reasons of children shall be particularly examined – a child may have other reasons for asylum than the parents. When the child's reasons for asylum have been examined, the administrator tries, as much as is possible, to adapt the investigation taking the child's age, health and other circumstances into consideration. The child has the right to be accompanied by an adult in the investigation. This may be a parent, a public counsel or a trustee, if the child has no parent in Sweden.

Here you can read more about the rules regarding asylum-seeking children.

Aliens Actexternal link, opens in new window
The Geneva conventionsexternal link, opens in new window (link to the website of the International Committee of the Red Cross)
UNHCRexternal link, opens in new window (the UN Refugee Agency)

Dublin RegulationPDF

Information for LGBTQ-persons who have sought asylum



Application for status declaration, form number 158011 (only in Swedish)PDF

Last updated: 25 January 2016