Asylum in Sweden

How to apply for asylum in Sweden?

To apply for asylum in Sweden, submit your application within the country. Upon arrival via an airport, land border, or seaport, inform the border police of your intent to seek asylum. They will ask preliminary questions and direct you to the Swedish Migration Agency to formally submit your application. You’re eligible to apply if you fear violence, persecution, war, or serious harm in your home country or the country where you previously lived. Applying for asylum is the initial step towards receiving international protection in Sweden.

What happens after I apply for asylum

Step 1 – Registration

Once you submit an asylum application in Sweden, the Swedish Migration Agency first determines which country is responsible for processing it under the Dublin Regulation. If Sweden is responsible, the Agency will assess your application. During this period, you can stay in Sweden and will be granted asylum-seeker status until a final decision is reached. You’ll receive an LMA card, which is a certificate of your asylum-seeker status, not an ID card, allowing you to remain in Sweden while awaiting the decision.

As an asylum-seeker, you can work if you have an ‘AT-UND’ certificate, indicating no need for a work permit. If you can’t support yourself financially, you may apply for financial assistance through the Swedish Migration Agency.

The Agency can provide accommodation if you don’t have a place to stay, but you’re also free to arrange your own housing.

Step 2 – Interview

In Sweden, you’ll have a crucial individual interview with a Swedish Migration Agency employee to explain why you’re seeking asylum. This interview is a key part of the asylum process, where you should provide detailed information and any documents supporting your claim. It’s vital to fully describe your experiences and fears about returning to your home country. Feel free to disclose any specific needs and request specialized support during the interview. If you require an interpreter, one will be provided.

Rest assured, all information and documents you provide during the asylum process, including interview records, will be kept confidential by Swedish authorities and not shared with your home country or others.

Step 3 – Decision

After reaching a decision on your asylum application, the Swedish Migration Agency will notify you using your provided contact details. The decision, provided in written Swedish, will be orally explained through an interpreter in a language you understand.

The asylum process has four potential outcomes:

1. Refugee status with a 3-year temporary residence permit, extendable every two years.
2. Subsidiary protection with a 13-month temporary residence permit, extendable every two years.
3. Residence permit under exceptionally distressing circumstances with a 13-month initial duration, extendable every two years.
4. Denial of your asylum application.

If granted asylum (refugee status, subsidiary protection, or residence permit under distressing circumstances), you’ll have the same rights to live and work in Sweden as Swedish citizens. You will receive a residence permit card as proof.

Upon receiving a temporary residence permit, register with the Swedish Tax Agency’s population register immediately for access to social security benefits and Swedish language courses. After registration, you can also apply for a Swedish identity card.

If your application is denied, you can either accept the decision by signing a ‘declaration of acceptance’ or appeal the decision if you disagree.

How can I appeal a negative decision?

If your asylum application in Sweden is denied, or if you disagree with the type of residence permit granted, you have the right to appeal to the Migration Court. Submit your appeal to the Swedish Migration Agency, which may reconsider its decision before forwarding it to the court.

If you have a lawyer, they can assist with the appeal. If not, the Swedish Refugee Law Center can provide help. The appeal must be filed within 3 weeks from the date you received the decision. For detailed information on the appeal process and deadlines, visit the Swedish Migration Agency’s website.

The Migration Court will either revise or uphold the Migration Agency’s decision. If the decision is negative and upheld, you can further appeal to the Migration Court of Appeal.

You may stay in Sweden with asylum-seeker status until a final decision is reached by either the Swedish Migration Agency or the courts.

Useful Facts

The average length of the asylum process in Sweden has fluctuated in recent years, decreasing from 507 days in 2018 to 288 days in 2019. It rose to 302 days in 2020, largely due to the impact of COVID-19, which led to the suspension of interviews by the Migration Agency in March 2020. The agency adapted by increasing remote interviews and equipping rooms with protective equipment. By 2021, the duration decreased to 256 days and further dropped to 166 days in 2022, with 1,620 out of 13,252 investigations conducted via video.

In 2022, the Migration Agency made 44,156 decisions on international protection applications, including 14,245 new applications and 29,911 renewals for temporary protection. The backlog of cases rose from 5,906 at the end of 2021 to 9,096 by the end of 2022.

The Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) aims to decide on asylum applications within 6 months, extendable by up to 9 months in exceptional cases. If this timeframe isn’t met, applicants can complain to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, which may result in criticism of the SMA. Applicants also have the right to request a decision from the SMA post-deadline.

The Swedish Refugee Law Center notes significant disparities in approval rates between SMA’s asylum assessment units. For instance, Stockholm had an 85% approval rate for Afghan asylum cases in summer 2022, compared to only 28% in Gothenburg, based on a limited sample of decisions.

For assistance or advice on obtaining asylum in Sweden, contact our asylum lawyers for a consultation via messenger or by mail or our contact form. We offer comprehensive support, including accompanying you to all authorities and providing expert advice throughout the procedure, help to appeal the refusal.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Asylum in Sweden FAQ

Are asylum seekers allowed to work in Sweden?
You are exempt from needing a work permit if you have proper identification or help prove your identity, and your application is being processed in Sweden.
How long is the asylum process in Sweden?
The Swedish NAO reports that in 2020, the wait time for an oral hearing at the Migration Court in Gothenburg was about 800 days. In Malmö, it was half that duration, while in Luleå and Stockholm, it was about a quarter of that time.
What benefits do asylum seekers get in Sweden?
As an asylum seeker, you're eligible for a daily allowance and possibly a special grant. If you're under 16, your legal guardian must apply for these benefits on your behalf. If you're 16 or older, you can apply for them yourself.
How do I apply for asylum in Sweden?
To apply for asylum in Sweden, visit the Migration Agency upon arrival; applications cannot be made before entering Sweden. If you encounter border police upon entry, inform them of your intention to seek asylum.