Meet an asylum seeker – Perwin, born in 1996 in Aleppo, Syria

"From one moment to the next it had been decided that we would leave our home. Now we are going. No more details. I did not know where we would go or why exactly. We went to Turkey. And I left my heart in Syria."


– We went from freedom to war. It was summer when we left Syria and full winter here in Sweden when we arrived in December 2012. I was so terribly  frozen and I had never heard of a  country called Sweden before in my life. At home I had a reason for everything. Here, I had nothing.

– When you are forced to start over in a new country and in a new language, you don’t even start from scratch, you have to start over all over again. In the beginning, I cried every day. All my thoughts started with "why"? So, one day I said to myself: Now you have to start your life. I realised that I couldn’t return.

– With school and the language, everything changed. When I also realised that you wouldn’t get anywhere being shy, things started happening. Going to school means a future and that means everything, because if you don’t have a future, why live? Now I have freedom. Another type of freedom. The freedom we all win is the greatest: to think what you want.

– Some things haven’t changed. I still want to be an engineer. My focus is now on completing studies at secondary school but the dream is that the war will end and I can return. Then I could help to rebuild towns and buildings again. I also have another dream: to be able to stand on a stage and sing in front of a large audience.

Those who are persecuted or at risk of persecution or inhuman treatment in their home country can apply for asylum in Sweden


Everyone has the right to seek asylum, it is a human right. The Swedish Migration Agency will investigate if the person seeking protection is entitled to a residence permit under the Aliens Act.

Refugees are people who are outside the country in which they are citizens, because they feel a well­ founded fear of persecution because of their

  • race
  • nationality
  • belonging to a certain social group

or due to

  • their religious or political beliefs
  • their gender or sexual orientation

and, because of this fear they cannot or do not want to take advantage of the protection of the country where they are citizens.

Asylum seekers are those who come to Sweden and apply for protection (asylum) here, but who have still not had their application decided.

Subsidiary protection

Those eligible for subsidiary protection

  • risk facing the death penalty
  • risk being subject to corporal punishment, torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment or
  • are at serious risk of injury as a civilian for reasons of armed conflict.

Those who receive a no to their application for asylum, must leave Sweden

Anyone who has received a final decision of rejection or expulsion that has come into effect, is no longer entitled to accommodation and subsistence from the Swedish Migration Agency. The law makes exceptions for families with children who are allowed to stay until their travel home can be arranged.

An application for asylum can only be made after entry  into Sweden

All foreigners, except EU citizens, who wish to reside in Sweden must have a residence permit prior to entering Sweden. The application is either made via online or through a Swedish embassy. Exceptions are people who are seeking protection.

Since 20 July 2016, Sweden has a temporary law that will apply for three years

According to the law, asylum seekers who have the right to protection will receive a temporary residence permit to stay in Sweden. Those who receive a refugee status declaration will receive a residence permit for three years, and those who obtain the status of persons eligible for subsidiary protection will receive a residence permit for 13 months. When the permit runs out, a new examination will be done regarding the possibility of returning the person to his or her country of origin. The temporary law also limits asylum seekers’ ability to reunite with their families. Only those who receive refugee status and a three­-year residence permit will be given an opportunity for family reunification.

Read more about protection and asylum in Sweden

Last updated: 2018-08-01

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