Children in the asylum process
Children’s rights during the asylum process are different from the rights of adults. Here we have gathered information about the rights of children and opportunities for support, in connection to both their asylum review and practical issues.
Sweden has signed the UN convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention states the rights of all children. These rights are in force for all children living in Sweden, whether they are Swedish citizens, living here temporarily, or are seeking asylum.
In Sweden you are considered a child until you turn 18. Most children seeking asylum have arrived here with one or both parents. There are also many children arriving to Sweden without a parent or guardian; these unaccompanied minors require special support.
Children seeking asylum have the right to have their say
According to Swedish law the Migration Agency has to specifically consider a child’s best interests. All children have the right to have their say and be listened to. Their reasons for seeking asylum are to be examined individually, as a child may have other reasons for seeking asylum than the parents. When the child’s reasons for seeking asylum are examined, the Migration Agency official must adapt the examination as much as possible to the child’s age, health, and maturity. The child has the right to be accompanied by an adult during the examination. It can be a parent or other legal guardian, a custodian, and/or public counsel.
All children have the right to attend school and preschool
All children and young adults have the same right to attend school and preschool as other children living in Sweden. The municipality where the children live is responsible for making it possible for them to go to school like the other children and young adults in the municipality. This concerns preschool, compulsory school, and secondary school. To be able to attend upper secondary school young adults seeking asylum must begin their studies before they turn 18.
The Migration Agency is not allowed to supply information to about children seeking asylum to the municipality without the parents’ consent. You can give your consent to the Migration Agency, which will give the municipality your child’s name, birth date, language, country of origin, and case number. You can also contact the municipality and let them know that you want your children to go to school or preschool.
All children are entitled to health care
Children seeking asylum have the right to the same health care and dental care as other children living in Sweden. Dental care is free of charge for those under 18 years of age. In most county councils or regions, health care for children is free as well. Contact the county council or region where you live for more information.
Children are entitled to reunite with their families
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children are entitled to be with their families. That is why Swedish authorities attempt to locate the parents or other guardians of unaccompanied minors. The search for relatives continues while the Migration Agency is investigating the child’s asylum application. In the first place, the objective is for the family to be reunited in their country of origin. If the child’s relatives are safe in another country the reunion may take place there. If there are no other options for a reunion somewhere else, the child’s family may be granted residence permits in Sweden if the child has received a residence permit in Sweden as a refugee.
More about the rights of the child
All Swedish authorities must consider the best interests of the child when making decisions, and there are several authorities with a special commission to protect the rights of children. Social Services in the municipality where the child lives are responsible for taking care of the child, if the parents are unable to do so or if the parents hurt the child. Sometimes the Police may need to assist in taking an abused child into protective custody. Hitting children or circumcising girls, for example, is not allowed. Nor are children under 18 years of age allowed to get married.
These pages can also be of use if you want to know more about asylum and how to apply for asylum, or for aiding adults in explaining the asylum process to children.
The digital book Welcome
A pedagogic family book for new arrivals about life in Sweden.