Forecast for the number of asylum seekers unchanged
The Swedish Migration Agency still aims to settle 54,000 asylum cases this year, and a clear reversal of the trend, with shorter processing times, can be seen.
“Our work is going in the right direction. We are now settling the last of the older cases”, says Veronica Lindstrand Kant, head of the Swedish Migration Agency’s National Coordination Department.
Just as in the latest forecast issued by the agency in February, it is estimated that approximately 23,000 people will seek asylum in Sweden this year. This is in the context of migrants still having limited opportunities to reach and pass through Europe. The main scenario for the forecast assumes that border controls and other border obstacles will persist over the course of the year, and that the statements made by the EU and Turkey concerning migration will remain valid.
Due to stable migration, changed working methods, and the fact that the Swedish Migration Agency will soon have decided almost all of the older cases, a clear reversal of the trend can now be seen: The Swedish Migration Agency’s processing times will be substantially shortened in the future.
The agency is working to an increasing extent to sort cases into different fast-track pathways, based on the need for more efficient handling and processing. An increased focus on digitalisation will also contribute to better service and accessibility for applicants.
In terms of the processing of cases in Asylum Examination, there is a visible reversal of the trend. Of those who sought asylum during 2017, two-thirds have already received a decision, but with an average processing time of three months. For work permits and cases concerning family ties, the Swedish Migration Agency will achieve the regulation-stipulated processing times of four months and nine months by mid-year and year’s end, respectively.
“We are now progressing and working towards the goal with a more efficient, but smaller agency, where we aim to handle the cases at the same pace as they come in. Focus is therefore gradually shifting from Reception and Asylum Examination to issues related to judicial review, return and detention”, says Veronika Lindstrand Kant.
The Swedish Migration Agency is simultaneously working on the last asylum cases that were received during 2015 and 2016.
“Of the 192,000 cases that we have at the moment, we have settled 95% of them”, Lindstrand Kant says. And by mid-year, the Swedish Migration Agency will have made decisions on 99% of all cases from 2015.
The fact that older cases are not complete today is mainly due to the reductions in staff numbers brought about by the agency’s restructuring. More Asylum Examination staff have gone on to new jobs than had been expected by this time.
“The restructuring has of course had an impact on us, but we mustn’t forget that in a short time, we are implementing one of the larger agency downscaling operations ever. We have lost valuable team members, but at the same time, I feel very secure with the staff we have and the capability that still remains here at the Swedish Migration Agency”, says Lindstrand Kant.