Question and answers about resettled refugees

To offer protection to refugees and people otherwise in need of protection who cannot return to their countries of origin and cannot be guaranteed permanent residence and security where they currently are. Providing the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, with an annual refugee quota is also a way to share responsibility for the situation of refugees.

First, UNHCR makes an assessment of which refugees should be offered resettlement. They present individual refugees or groups of refugees to countries that have resettlement programmes. After this, the respective countries investigate whether the grounds for protection that have been presented for the refugees are consistent with the countries’ laws, and with the national conditions that have been established for Reception of resettled refugees.

The UN provides no financial support to countries that accepts refugees for resettlement. On the contrary, it is the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, that receives financial support from member countries, including Sweden, one of the largest donors in the world. Accepting refugees for resettlement is a voluntary commitment by the Swedish state.

Ever since 1950, the Parliament has decided each year how much money will be set aside for the resettlement. After this, the Government gives the Swedish Migration Agency responsibility for selecting the refugees and transferring them to Sweden. In recent years, the annual quota has been around 1,900 persons. The migration policy agreement made in the autumn 2015 included the goal of Sweden gradually increasing the Swedish resettlement programme to 5,000 during the Government's term of office.

The Government has given the Swedish Migration Agency the responsibility for making decisions on resettlement and for granting permanent residence permits in Sweden.

Not everyone who is under UNHCR protection fits into the Swedish “refugee” category according to the Aliens Act. Refugees that Sweden accepts for resettlement must be classifiable as either refugees or persons eligible for subsidiary protection under Swedish law. Thus, not everyone will be classified as a refugee.

After a decision concerning a residence permit, it generally takes a few months to prepare the trip to Sweden. Times can vary depending on which country a person is travelling from. During this time, the Swedish Migration Agency works to find a municipality that can prepare accommodation and reception. Then, passports, airline tickets and exit permits are arranged, among other things. Sweden is responsible for all costs connected with the trip.

All selected refugees will receive written information when they receive a decision on a residence permit and their travel booking. The Swedish Migration Agency is now looking into other possibilities for preparatory programmes for refugees selected for resettlement.

Persons who are granted asylum in Sweden receive financial support from the state during the first two years, on the condition that they follow the establishment plan that they have made together with the Swedish Public Employment Service. During this time, they receive instruction in Swedish, public service information, and assistance in finding a job and supporting themselves.

As soon as a resettled refugee has received a residence permit and settled in Sweden, he/she has the same rights and obligations as all other residents. Those with a permanent residence permit are entitled to e.g. childcare, education, healthcare and social security. The same obligation to try to work and support oneself, to ensure that children attend school, and to follow the laws, applies to everyone who resides in Sweden.

Like other immigrants, resettled refugees receive voting rights in county council and municipal elections after three years in Sweden. However, Swedish citizenship is required in order to participate in parliamentary elections. Those who are refugees according to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees can be granted citizenship after four years, whereas those in need of subsidiary protection normally require at least five years. Husbands/wives and children of persons with refugee status can receive travel grants so that the family can be reunited.

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