The Swedish refugee quota

Sweden has been receiving quota refugees since 1950. The process of selection and organised transfer of refugees is called resettlement. Each year, the Swedish Parliament provides funding to enable the Swedish Migration Agency to transfer between 1,700 and 1,900 persons within the refugee quota. Today 27 countries accept quota refugees on an annual basis.

The refugee quota is primarily intended for refugees and other people who are in need of protection. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) presents such cases when all other options have been exhausted.

A refugee is a person who has left his or her country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of

  • race
  • nationality
  • membership of a particular social group, or due to
    • his/her religious or political beliefs
    • gender or sexual orientation
    • and who because of this fear is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself the protection of that country. The refugee quota may also include people otherwise in need of protection.

The government may also determine that the allocated funds can be used, for example, to make it easier for people in refugee camps to reside in the local area, as well as for medical projects.

How many quota refugees come to Sweden?

The focus of the selection as well as the actual number of quota places is determined by the Swedish government. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Sweden received 1,900 quota refugees. In 2015 the quota comprises 1,900 persons. The nationalities and where the refugees come from is determined in cooperation with UNHCR.

How does the selection process work?

In order to be selected for the quota, an individual must be registered as a refugee at UNHCR. UNHCR then prioritises which people are to be presented, and for which country. Each country then makes an assessment, an takes the decision whether the person is to be granted a residence permit.
Refugees are selected either through delegation selection or through dossier selection. Delegation selection means that the refugees are selected in the country where they presently live. They are interviewed on site by persons seconded from the Swedish Migration Agency.

For dossier selection, UNHCR sends its analysis to the Swedish Migration Agency who then decide based on the evidence. 

Swedish cultural orientation program

Within the framework of the budget appropriation to transfer refugees to Sweden, the programme known as the Swedish cultural orientation program can be implemented for refugees who have been granted permits in Sweden. The programme aims to inform refugees of the conditions in Swedish, and to prepare them before their trip and arrival in Sweden.

Before transfer to Sweden

When a quota refugee is granted a permit to come to Sweden, the Swedish Migration Agency must find an appropriate municipality in which the person can stay. Quota refugees travel directly into a municipality and their entry is therefore dependent on accommodation and a municipality place being organised. The quota refugees' family composition, language, age, education, health, work experience and similar have a bearing on municipality location. It is the municipalities that determine whether they can receive or not.

Cooperation important

The Swedish Migration Agency collaborates with several operators in order to ensure the best resettlement conditions possible.
Important partners are:

  • The UNHCR, which, among other things, presents cases to the Swedish Migration Agency so that we can determine whether there are any relatives in Sweden, their names, parentage, addresses and more.
  • Embassies and consulates in the countries where the refugees are located. They issue permits and ensure that the refugees have the necessary travel documents. In some cases, the Red Cross can also assist with travel documents.
  • The IOM helps the refugee on site to get a travel permit and to book airline tickets. When the Swedish Migration Agency knows what municipality the refugee is destined for, we ask IOM to book airline tickets.
  • Municipalities and local actors in the host society.

More information

The Swedish Refugee Quota – a brochure made in collaboration between the Migration Agency and UNHCR: Swedish,PDF ArabicPDF, English,PDF FrenchPDF

Resettlement of quota refugees in Sweden – the process (A3 format): Swedish,PDF EnglishPDF

Last updated: 12 May 2015