7 April 2017

The first medical age assessment will be ready soon

The National Board of Forensic Medicine is expected to send the first opinion of an asylum seeker's age to the Swedish Migration Agency within a month.
– This means that we will soon be able to make the first decision in which the National Board of Forensic Medicine’s age assessment is included as part of the evidence, says Daniel Salehi, the Swedish Migration Agency’s process manager for age assessments.

The Swedish Migration Agency has since the beginning of March been given applicants the opportunity to undergo medical age assessment in cases where the applicant's age is unclear.

The medical age assessment is voluntary and is carried out by the National Board of Forensic Medicine, which receives backing of contracted receptions around the country.

So far, 1340 people have received an offer to undergo medical age assessment and 1207 have accepted by signing a form.

The Swedish Migration Agency can send up to 3 000 orders per month to the National Board of Forensic Medicine.

As a basis for the medical age assessment, the applicant will need to have two examinations: An X-ray examination of the wisdom teeth and an MRI of the knee joint. After examinations and analysis of the images, a medical examiner will assess if the person is over or under 18 years. The National Board of Forensic Medicine’s assessment is called a forensic opinion on age.

– The opinion does not state exactly how old you are, but an assessment if the person is over or under 18 years, says Ann Lemne, Director of Development at the National Board of Forensic Medicine.

Overall assessment

The forensic opinion about age is sent to the Swedish Migration Agency, which then makes an overall assessment of the report and other supporting evidence, such as school records and the applicant's story.

This, together with the protective grounds which the applicant is citing, is the basis for the Swedish Migration Agency's decision on the residence permit.

According to a bill that comes into force on 1 May, the Swedish Migration Agency will make a provisional decision on the age of the applicant, at the beginning of the asylum process. Faced with such a temporary decision, a medical age assessment may be included.

Just under 18,000 unaccompanied minors are still waiting to get their residence permit application examined by the Swedish Migration Agency. Among them are people who sought asylum in 2015 and later.

– All these people will not be considered for medical age assessment, because for instance, we believe that there is already a document showing that the person is likely to be a minor, says Daniel Salehi.

Just under 38,000 unaccompanied minors have sought asylum since 2015. In 2016, the Swedish Migration Agency made 9542 decisions on residence permits for unaccompanied minors. From January to March 2017, 1471 decisions have been made. The rate upheld was 78 percent in 2016 for unaccompanied minors. The average turnaround time for 2016: 328 days. Age evaluations 2016: 3400 persons. 2017, Jan-Mar 278 persons.