1 August 2017

Forecast: Continued stable growth in the number of asylum seekers in Sweden

The number of asylum seekers who reach Sweden remains at a stable level. Just over 13,000 people have applied for asylum so far this year, which is somewhat lower than previously assumed. At the same time, work on resolving old asylum cases will continue into next year.

Since the spring of 2016, the number of asylum seekers reaching Sweden has remained at approximately the same level. 29,000 people applied for asylum during 2016, and so far this year, just over 13,000 people have applied. This is fewer than anticipated, in terms of both the total figure and the number of unaccompanied minors. This development is expected to continue throughout the year, and the Swedish Migration Agency is now planning to receive approximately 28,000 asylum seekers this year.

"Although a lot of people, mainly from Africa, are currently heading for Italy, the Swedish Migration Agency does not see a development where these groups will travel to Sweden. A restrictive approach, with border controls and other measures being taken in Europe, also makes it unlikely that there will be a large increase in those seeking asylum in Sweden", says Fredrik Bengtsson, Director of Communications at the Swedish Migration Agency.

The abolition of ID checks has not had any significant effect on migration to Sweden, and there has not been any major increase in asylum seekers during the summer. The Swedish Migration Agency believes that the agreement between Turkey and the EU will hold, and that this is an important factor for future development. In the event that the agreement falls through, there is a contingency plan for 38,000 asylum seekers in Sweden.

The Swedish Migration Agency is making adjustments

The large number of asylum seekers in 2015 and at the beginning of 2016 meant that the Swedish Migration Agency needed to expand its activities greatly in order to manage the work. Now that the growth in the number of asylum seekers remains constant, the Swedish Migration Agency is preparing to adapt its activities to the new circumstances. At the same time, the Swedish Migration Agency also has to settle cases that are still awaiting a decision – both asylum cases and employment and close family-ties cases. Reducing available resources, while at the same time maintaining a high rate of decisions in cases, will be a challenge during the coming year.

Unaccompanied minors who have waited a long time are expected to receive a decision this year

Despite the fact that the Swedish Migration Agency settled a historically large number of asylum cases in 2016, there still remain outstanding cases from previous years. The Agency now estimates that, in principle, all unaccompanied minors who applied for asylum in 2015 and 2016 will receive a decision in 2017. Work on determining old asylum cases will, however, continue into 2018.

"We are currently dealing with cases mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan, which require more investigation than cases from Syria, for example. At the same time, we have also expanded quite a lot, which is a challenge to all organisations, and we have also needed to make changes in our work to take account of a number of new laws over a relatively short period of time", says Fredrik Bengtsson.

It is expected that waiting times in both asylum- and permit cases will be reduced towards the end of 2018.