29 August 2019

New judicial position concerning Syria

The security situation in Syria continues to be very serious, however the level of conflict in some of the country’s provinces has decreased slightly. As a result, the situation in the country as a whole is no longer regarded to be such that everyone is at risk of suffering indiscriminate violence.

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This is reflected in the Swedish Migration Agency’s new legal stance concerning the citizens from Syria.

“Despite the fact that we see a somewhat reduced level of conflict in certain provinces, many Syrians continue to be granted asylum in Sweden due to the uncertainty of the situation in the country,” comments Fredrik Beijer, Director of Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Agency.

In six provinces, the level of conflict remains such that it means that each and every person who is presently there is at risk of suffering indiscriminate violence. This applies to the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa, among others. No one who is domiciled or has their ordinary residence there will be deported to there.

The assessment of the security situation in other parts of Syria, is that except in the province of Tartous in the western part of the country, there exists internal armed conflict, however not at such a severe level that the violence is indiscriminate.

Previously, the Migration Agency was of the view that the situation there was so serious that each and every person there was at risk of suffering from the violence, however now a different assessment has been made, keeping in mind that the security situation varies widely within and between these provinces.

In Tartous, there are other severe conflicts in such a manner so that there are no armed groups there right now.

Since 2012, the Syrians constituted the largest group of applicants for asylum in Sweden, and since the start of the conflict, in 2011, over 115,000 have been granted asylum.

Currently approximately 1,300 Syrians are waiting for the decision of the Swedish Migration Agency.
Significantly more, 26,500, will have to apply over the next three years at the Migration Agency to extend their temporary residence permit.

“These are not affected by the new legal stance, but rather this affects only new applicants for asylum. Those who are already here in Sweden and who have received protection status as a refugee or subsidiary protection will retain that status. They do not need to state new reasons for asylum when applying for an extended residence permit, as long as the reasons are the same as before,” observes Fredrik Beijer.

“This is due to that a person who has been granted a protection status retains it. Only in the event of a long-term and significant change in the security situation may it be relevant to revoke the protection status, and at present we do not see such occurring,” concludes Fredrik Beijer.

Read the new judicial position concerning Syria in its entirety (only in Swedish)PDF

Read the news article about the judicial position concerning Syria in ArabicPDF

Brief facts

In 2018, 2709 Syrian citizens applied for asylum in Sweden.
It is estimated that in 2019 some 2,300 Syrians will seek asylum, and the following year the number will be closer to 2,600. This is based on the Migration Agency’s latest forecast, published 29 July 2019.

Frequently asked questions about the Swedish Migration Agency’s judicial position regarding the security situation in Syria

  • What is a judicial position?

    Judicial positions are the Swedish Migration Agency’s general recommendations regarding the application of laws and ordinances within the Swedish Migration Agency. Judicial positions for a specific country are published when the Swedish Migration Agency has monitored developments in a country for a period of time and deems that a new legal guidance document is needed.

    The positions are an aid to the staff of the Swedish Migration Agency and are intended to achieve a uniform and consistent application of law and handling. The Swedish Migration Agency’s staff must follow the judicial positions when they review individuals’ applications for residence permits.

  • What is new in this judicial position compared with what applied before?

    Since 2013, the Swedish Migration Agency has deemed that the conflict level in Syria is so serious that everyone and anyone is at risk of being affected by random violence that people who come from there should be granted asylum. The Swedish Migration Agency’s assessment is now that the conflict intensity has subsided in some provinces. This means that it is no longer a given that everyone is entitled to asylum.

  • Why is a judicial position on Syria coming now?

    The Swedish Migration Agency is updating the assessment of all major asylum countries, and we assess that such changes have gradually occurred that we are now making a different assessment of the security situation in Syria.

  • How does the judicial position affect the Syrians who already have a residence permit in Sweden and are to apply for a residence permit extension – are they at risk of receiving a rejection and being deported?

    No, the new assessment does not affect Syrians who are to apply for an extension. Those who are already here in Sweden and have been granted protection status as a refugee or as a person in need of subsidiary protection keep that status. They do not need to provide new grounds for asylum when they apply for a residence permit extension if the grounds are the same as before.

  • How does the judicial position affect Syrians who are waiting for a decision in their asylum case?

    It affects asylum seeking Syrians such that the Swedish Migration Agency in its review also weighs in what town or city the applicant comes from in addition to the individual grounds for protection.

  • What is meant when the Swedish Migration Agency is said to consider it possible to refer to internal refuge in Syria?

    The Swedish Migration Agency considers that the city of Damascus may be a relevant and reasonable internal refuge alternative in clear exceptional situations for anyone who has sufficiently favourable social and financial circumstances.

  • How does the judicial position affect the possibility for Syrian families to be reunited?

    The judicial position does not affect the possibility for reunification. One of the requirements to be entitled to reunification is that the person with family ties – the person who has a residence permit in Sweden – has the status as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection. The Syrians who are here in Sweden and have been granted protection status as a refugee or as a person in need of subsidiary protection keep that status.

  • Does the judicial position mean that many Syrians will now have their asylum applications rejected?

    No, the Swedish Migration Agency’s assessment is that there will still be many who are granted asylum on the basis of the security situation in Syria.

  • What does it mean for people who have already been granted a residence permit with a refugee or subsidiary protection status? Do they risk being deported if they come from an area that you no longer assess to be as serious?

    People who are already here in Sweden and who have been granted refugee or subsidiary protection status will keep that status. The reason for that are special regulations in the Aliens Act Sweden, which are based on EU law together with court practice. These regulations state that a protection status cannot be revoked unless the situation in the home country has changed “substantially and permanently”. The Swedish Migration Agency does not feel that this is the case in the country.

    People who apply for an extension of their residence permit do not need to provide new reasons for asylum when they apply for an extension of their residence permit, as long as the reasons are the same as before.

  • How can the Swedish Migration Agency make different assessments of the need for protection for asylum seekers and people who have already been allowed to stay?

    That is because a person who has already been granted protection status will keep that status according to EU law (the basic protection directive). Only if there is a permanent and substantial change in the safety situation can there be a question of revoking the protection status, and at the current time we do not see a situation like this.

    Therefore, people who are already living in Sweden and have been granted refugee or subsidiary protection status will keep that status. They do not need to provide new reasons for asylum when they apply for an extension of their residence permit, as long as the reasons are the same as before.