The asylum process
This part is about the asylum process, i.e. the steps an asylum seeker has to go through, from when you come to the Swedish Migration Agency for the first time, through the decision you are given until either you are settled in Sweden or you must leave Sweden.
Here you can read about what the law says about who has the right to asylum in Sweden, how the Swedish Migration Agency makes a decision and what you can do if you do not agree with the decision. You can also read about what happens if you must go home.
At the first meeting with the Swedish Migration Agency you have to answer a lot of questions, you are given information about the asylum process and you can also get help to call your parents or other relatives to tell them where you are and how you are feeling.
With the help of an interpreter you can, for example, tell us
- who you are
- what language you speak
- about your family
- whether you are married
- how you feel
- how you travelled to Sweden
- why you have left you country of origin and what you think will happen if you go back
- if you have friends or relatives in Sweden that you want to live with or close to.
If you have special needs, for example a disability, you should say so. If your disability makes it difficult for you to speak to the Swedish Migration Agency, you have the right to help.
The staff ask these questions in order to enter you in the Swedish Migration Agency's IT system and to prepare your application for investigation. You will get similar questions from both the Swedish Migration Agency and the municipality you are going to live in. This is because the Swedish Migration Agency and the municipality have different IT systems.
Show who you are
The Swedish Migration Agency wants to know who you are and where you come from so as to be able to make the right decision. It is your responsibility to show what your name is, how old you are and where you come from. The best way to show your identity is by handing in a passport or identity card.
It is particularly important for the Swedish Migration Agency to know how old you are since children seeking asylum have different rights from adult asylum seekers.
Photo and fingerprints
You will be photographed and fingerprinted. To have your fingerprints taken, you press your fingers against a machine that reads your fingerprints. If you are 14 or older the Swedish Migration Agency checks whether your fingerprints are registered in any other country in Europe. Children under the age of six do not need to give fingerprints at all.
If your fingerprints show that you have already applied for asylum in another country and an investigation shows that you have been given a decision in that country, the Swedish Migration Agency can decide that you have to go there.
After the initial interview
When your application for asylum has been registered, you get a receipt that you have applied for asylum. After a couple of weeks you can exchange the receipt for an LMA card that proves that you have applied for asylum and have the right to stay in Sweden while you wait for a decision. An LMA card does not count as an identity document; i.e. it does not prove who you are, just that you are an asylum seeker in Sweden.
The Swedish Migration Agency contacts the municipality, which makes sure that you get accommodation and a guardian. The Swedish Migration Agency also appoints a public counsel who helps you with your application.
Waiting for an asylum investigation
The next stage in the asylum process is that you have to come to an asylum investigation; this is an interview where you have to tell us more about why you want asylum in Sweden. How long you have to wait for an appointment for an asylum investigation can differ from person to person. It is important that you come to the meetings you are summoned to. If we must re-book an asylum investigation, it can take time for you to get a new appointment.
The asylum investigation is an interview in which you have to tell us more about why you want to have asylum in Sweden. The Swedish Migration Agency wants to hear your own account of what you have experienced and what you think will happen to you if you must return.
Your public counsel has to accompany you to the asylum investigation. Your guardian can also accompany you, if you so wish. A person from the Swedish Migration Agency is in charge of the investigation and writes down what you talk about in a record. Sometimes two people from the Swedish Migration Agency may be present at an investigation; then one person asks the questions and the other person takes notes. An interpreter translates what you all say so that you understand one another. The interpreter may sit in the room or be present by video link or telephone.
Things that are difficult to talk about
An asylum investigation takes between two and three hours, and you will be asked questions about things that it can be difficult or embarrassing to talk about. It is important that you tell the Swedish Migration Agency the truth, even if it is hard. If you need to take a break, you can ask to do so.
When the Swedish Migration Agency investigates your grounds for asylum, the case officer tries to adapt the investigation to your age, maturity and health. If you do not understand a question, you should say so. If you do not understand the interpreter, it is also important to say so.
At the asylum investigation you will be asked questions about your identity, your family, what has you have experienced in your country of origin, how you came to Sweden and what you think will happen if you must return. You are sure to have heard these questions before, but now you will have the opportunity to say much more than you have done in previous meetings with the Swedish Migration Agency. The case officer will ask follow-up questions and ask you to give more detail in order to really understand your account. Try to answer all the questions as accurately as you can. If you are asked the same question several times, it does not mean that you have given the wrong answer; just that the case officer needs more information.
If you have any proof you must bring it to the investigation. Example of proof can be identity documents or something else that shows that your account is correct.
After the investigation
After the investigation the case officer sends the record to your public counsel, who goes through it together with you and your guardian. If anything is wrong, or if you think that case officer or interpreter has misunderstood you, it is important that your counsel notifies the Swedish Migration Agency quickly so that the record is corrected – otherwise it may be difficult for you to explain what is correct later on. Also tell your counsel if you think of something important that you forgot to say at the investigation.
The Swedish Migration Agency decides whether to give you asylum in Sweden by looking at everything you have said and presented and at what we know about the situation in your country of origin. Then this is compared with what the law says about who is to be given asylum in Sweden.
When the Swedish Migration Agency has made a decision on your application for asylum, you and your guardian are summoned to a meeting. At the meeting the case officer explains the decision and what will happen after it. The asylum decision is written in Swedish, but a case officer at your reception unit explains what it means with the help of an interpreter.
The case officer who tells you about the decision does not need to be the same one who interviewed you and made the decision. Decision are always made by two people together. This is so that we will be confident that it is the right decision. Case officers at the Swedish Migration Agency are not allowed to decide on the basis of their own opinions but must follow the law.
“Yes” or “no”
If you get a “yes” to your application for asylum, you are given a residence permit and you have the right to stay in Sweden.
If your application is refused this means that the answer to your application for asylum is “no”.
Swedish law says who can get asylum in Sweden. The Swedish Migration Agency examines whether the grounds you have described are sufficient to get asylum.
In Sweden, all applications for asylum are examined individually by the Swedish Migration Agency. Sweden has to give you a residence permit if you are a refugee or a person eligible for subsidiary protection or need to stay for other reasons.
Under the UN Refugee Convention and Swedish law, you are a refugee if you have reason to fear persecution on grounds of
– for example, the colour of your skin
– for example, your citizenship, language or ethnic group
– which god you believe in, or if you do not believe in any god at all
- political belief
– for example, your opinions about how your country of origin should be governed
– if you are a boy or girl
- sexual orientation
– for example, if you are a girl who falls in love with girls or a boy who falls in love with boys
- membership of a particular social group
– sometimes children can be regarded as a separate social group.
Sometimes it is the people in power in a country that persecute and threaten people so that they have to flee. But individuals can also apply for asylum if they are being persecuted by individual persons or groups, and the authorities in their country of origin (the police, for instance) are not able or willing to protect and help the individuals subjected to this.
It is not sufficient for you to have experienced that kind of persecution. There must also be a great risk that you will be subjected to it again if you return. This is why the case officer at the Swedish Migration Agency asks what you think will happen if you must go back to your country of origin.
If you are regarded as a refugee, you get a residence permit for three years.
Person in need of subsidiary protection
Under Swedish law a person can sometimes get asylum in Sweden even though they are not regarded as a refugee in the way described in the points set out above, but are still afraid to return to their country of origin.
You are said to be a person in need of subsidiary protection if you risk torture, the death penalty or other inhuman or degrading treatment in your country of origin. You can also get a residence permit as a person in need of subsidiary protection if there is so much war in your country of origin that everyone who remains there risks being killed.
A person regarded in need of subsidiary protection is given a residence permit for 13 months.
Residence permits in other cases
In certain cases an asylum seeker can get a residence permit even though they do not meet the legal requirements to be called a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection. When the Migration Agency makes a decision, an overall assessment is made of the person’s state of health, adaptation to Sweden and the situation in the country of origin.
A residence permit means that you have been given a YES to your application for asylum. You are allowed to stay in Sweden
If you get a residence permit, you and your guardian will be summoned to a meeting at your reception unit. A case officer will tell you about the decision and explain why you are being allowed to stay and what will happen after that.
After the decision
You and your guardian have to visit the Swedish Tax Agency to register you in the population register. One thing this means is that you will be given a personal identity number with the last four digits.
One month after you get your residence permit, you will be discharged from the Swedish Migration Agency. You will no longer get daily allowance and your debit card will stop working. If you need the money on the card, it is important that you take it out before you are discharged from the Swedish Migration Agency. Then your asylum case is closed. From then on, the municipality where you live will have the full responsibility for you. Your social worker will tell you more about what happens after that.
How long is my residence permit valid for?
Most asylum seekers get temporary residence permits. This means that you are allowed to stay in Sweden for a certain amount of time, generally 13 months or three years. When your residence permit expires, you can apply for an extension. If you still need protection, you can get a residence permit for two more years.
Permanent residence permit
When you have held a residence permit for three years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit at the same time as you apply for an extension. If you are aged 15 or over, it is a requirement that you are living an orderly life in order to be granted a permanent residence permit. Your application for a permanent residence permit may be refused if, for example, you have committed a crime. If you are aged 18 or over when you apply for a permanent residence permit, it is also a requirement that you can support yourself financially.
If you do not meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit, you may still be able to receive an extended residence permit if you are still in need of protection.
If the Swedish Migration Agency refuses your application for a permanent residence permit on the grounds that you do not meet the maintenance requirement or orderliness requirement, you can appeal the decision.
If you have been given a residence permit, your parents can, in certain cases, be reunited with you in Sweden. The case officer who tells you that you have been given a residence permit can tell you more about how this is done.
A refusal means that you have been given a NO to your application for asylum. If your application has been refused, you have two choices: You can accept the decision and leave Sweden or you can appeal to the migration court.
A refusal of your application means that the Swedish Migration Agency makes the assessment that you do not have sufficient grounds to be given asylum in Sweden. You and your guardian have to come to a meeting where a case officer explains why you have been given a refusal and what happens now.
Accept the decision
If you accept the decision, you have to sign a paper saying that you do not want to appeal. When you have accepted the decision, you can get help from the Swedish Migration Agency to prepare your journey home.
You can appeal the decision if you do not agree with the Swedish Migration Agency’s decision. To appeal, you and your guardian have to write a letter to the Swedish Migration Agency saying why you think the decision is wrong. Your public counsel can help you write an appeal. The decision says how much time you have to appeal.
The Swedish Migration Agency will read your appeal and assess whether its decision should be changed. If the Swedish Migration Agency does not consider there is reason to change the decision, your appeal is forwarded to the migration court. The migration court goes through your appeal. If the migration court agrees with you, the court changes the Swedish Migration Agency’s decision and you are able to stay.
If the migration court refuses your appeal, that means that they agree with the Swedish Migration Agency’s decision. You can appeal to the Migration Court of Appeal, but that court only examines certain special cases where it is not clear how to interpret the law. If the Migration Court of Appeal decides not to examine your case, this means that you cannot appeal any more and that the Swedish Migration Agency’s decision begins to apply (gains legal force).
You can change your mind at any time and withdraw your appeal and decide to go home instead. You can get help from the Swedish Migration Agency to prepare your journey home.
When your application for asylum has been refused, you have to prepare to return to your country of origin. The Swedish Migration Agency helps you to plan your journey home if you cooperate.
The Swedish Migration Agency will summon you to several meetings to talk about what needs to be done to enable you to return. As long as you cooperate, you will get help from the Swedish Migration Agency to prepare your journey back to your country of origin. If you do not cooperate, the Swedish Migration Agency can pass on responsibility for your case to the police.
If you are still under 18 when you leave Sweden, there must be someone who can receive you when you arrive. It can be a parent, a relative or someone working at a public authority who is responsible for children who do not have custodians. Staff from the Swedish Migration Agency travel with you and make sure that someone meets you at the airport when you arrive.
If your parents are in safety in a country other than your country of origin, the Swedish Migration Agency can try to help you be reunited with them there instead.
The Swedish Migration Agency helps you
You do not have to like the decision that you have to leave Sweden. But if you accept the decision and agree to return willingly, the Swedish Migration Agency will help you to plan your journey. You can, for example, get help to book your journey, arrange a passport and contact relatives in your country of origin.
In certain cases you can also apply for financial support or other forms of support to make it easier for you to enter society after your return.
If you do not follow the decision
The Swedish Migration Agency can only help you to prepare your return if you yourself agree to leave Sweden. If you do not come to the meetings that the Swedish Migration Agency summons you to, if you hide or if you show in some other way that you do not intend to go back, the Swedish Migration Agency can pass your case on to the police. That means that it is the police who are responsible for you following the decision and leaving Sweden. If you have turned 18, you lose the right to financial support if you do not follow the decision.
New events after refusal
Sometimes something can happen after the decision that means you cannot leave Sweden. It may, for example, be that you become too ill to travel or that new grounds for asylum emerge or new evidence for your grounds for asylum comes to light that the Swedish Migration Agency was not aware of when we made our decision. If so, you and your guardian should write to the Swedish Migration Agency to say what has happened. Then the Swedish Migration Agency decides whether the new circumstances are sufficient to stop the expulsion.
Sometimes the expulsion can be stopped temporarily to give the Swedish Migration Agency time to investigate the new information. A temporary stop is called a suspension.
While waiting to travel home
You have the right to attend school, receive healthcare and get help with money and accommodation as long as you are still in Sweden. Your guardian helps you until you leave Sweden or turn 18.