This is how resettlement works

To be selected for resettlement to Sweden and be offered resettlement in Sweden, one must be registered with UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. UNHCR evaluates which people are in need of resettlement to a new country. They then present them to some of the countries – Sweden being one of them – that accept refugees for resettlement.


There are currently 68.5 million displaced people. Of these, UNHCR estimates 1.4 million are sufficiently vulnerable that they should be resettled to a third country. The UNHCR identifies those most in need and presents their cases to the Swedish Migration Agency. There are 5,000 such individuals in 2020.


UNHCR identifies refugees that need resettlement by sending personal files, with documentation, on each person and family to the Swedish Migration Agency. Sometimes, this foundation is enough for the Swedish Migration Agency to determine whether a person can obtain a residence permit as a refugee or person otherwise in need of protection under the Aliens Act.

The Swedish Migration Agency also travels to various countries to conduct interviews with persons that the UNHCR has submitted for resettlement. This can be related to e.g. a new refugee group or the Swedish Migration Agency’s need for more information than is found in the material the UNHCR provides. Decisions on who can be offered a residence permit in Sweden are thus based on both the personal files sent in, and on the interviews.

Only people who are refugees or persons eligible for subsidiary protection according to the Aliens Act will receive a residence permit. Permits for quota refugees are permanent. About 95 percent of those investigated in the context of resettlement receive a residence permit in Sweden.

Prepa­ring to move to Sweden

When a refugee has received a permit to come to Sweden, the Swedish Migration Agency assigns a municipality to receive the refugee. Preparations are then made for transfer to Sweden. Resettled refugees travel directly to their municipalities and their entry is therefore dependent on whether accommodation and reception have been arranged.

The municipality that receives a resettled refugee gets information based on the UNHCR's written personal files about the refugee. It has information relevant to the resettlement, for example if the person is ill or has special needs.

Selected quota refugees receive written information about Sweden. Previously, they received information through the so-called Cultural Orientation Programme, where selected persons meet with staff from the Swedish Migration Agency and municipalities, and discuss what will happen and what quota refugees can expect. The Swedish Migration Agency is now looking into other possibilities for preparatory programmes for refugees selected for resettlement.

Transfer – the move to Sweden

When a refugee has received a residence permit and accommodation in a municipality, the Swedish Migration Agency will arrange a transfer to Sweden. People who do not have a valid passport will receive an emergency alien's passport, which will be sufficient for travel to Sweden. The so-called UT card (residence permit card) is commissioned by the embassies or by the team sent out by the Swedish Migration Agency. Sometimes, an entry visa is arranged so that a quota refugee will be able to travel to Sweden. IOM and UNHCR assist in arranging the necessary permits so that people are able to leave the countries where they are staying.

Resettled refugees may travel to Sweden on their own, in families or in groups. Sometimes, they are accompanied by staff from IOM and the Swedish Migration Agency. Upon arrival at Arlanda Airport, or the local airport, the municipality meets up with them. After this, the municipality, along with the Swedish Public Employment Service and other local parties, is responsible for supporting these individuals at the start of their time in Sweden.

Last updated: