Archive: Åsa Romson, Minister for Climate and the Environment, Deputy Prime Minister

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Government proposes measures to create respite for Swedish refugee reception

In the worst refugee situation since the Second World War, Sweden has taken greater responsibility than any other country in the west. We are a small country that is making an enormous contribution and the Swedish people are showing great solidarity in a difficult time. We stand up for the international right of asylum.

Since the summer, the number of refugees arriving in Sweden has increased dramatically and in the last two months alone, 80 000 people have sought asylum in Sweden. Of these, there are so many children and young people that it is equivalent to more than 100 new school classes each week. Public authorities and municipalities are now finding it difficult to cope with the pressure. Municipalities report themselves for irregularities (Lex Sarah reports) since they can no longer manage reception in a secure manner. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has raised the alarm that important public services cannot cope with the strain. Sweden can no longer guarantee a roof over the head of those who make their way to our country and in the last week people have had to sleep outdoors.

Therefore, the Government now proposes measures to create a respite for Swedish refugee reception. This requires a dramatic reduction in the number of people who seek asylum and are granted a residence permit in Sweden.  The Government therefore wants to temporarily adjust the asylum regulations to the minimum level in the EU so that more people choose to seek asylum in other EU countries.

At the same time, capacity in reception must be improved. Many municipal services are under severe strain or face major challenges. These include social services, schools and trauma care. Another major challenge is to meet the rapidly growing population’s need for housing. There is still much to do in this regard.

The measures that the Government now proposes are necessary in the current acute situation, but are not in themselves a long-term way forward. The refugee situation must be handled in a concerted manner within the EU. The Government will therefore continue to advocate a system where all countries, without compromising on individual asylum examination, take a shared responsibility for refugee reception. The Government wants the Dublin Regulation to be revised and replaced by a new, permanent relocation scheme in the EU.

Measures proposed by the Government

The Swedish legislation will be temporarily brought into line with the minimum requirements in international conventions and EU law.

With the exceptions indicated below, the legislation will apply to asylum decisions taken in the period during which the legislation is in force. It is temporary legislation, which will be in force for three years and will entail the following temporary exceptions to the provisions of the Aliens Act.

Temporary residence permits for all persons in need of protection except quota refugees.

Refugees and persons eligible for subsidiary protection who are granted protection in Sweden will be granted temporary residence permits. Refugees will be granted a residence permit for three years when their case is first examined, and persons eligible for subsidiary protection for one year. These permits will be renewable. In the case of extension, the general rule will also be that a temporary permit will be granted.

Exceptions will apply for children and their families who registered their applications before the agreement was presented and who are still in Sweden. The current rules will apply in their case, provided that the child is still under the age of 18 when the decision is taken. In addition, a permanent residence permit may be granted when the first temporary residence permit expires if the applicant can show that they have an assessed income that is sufficient to support themselves.

Quota refugees will continue to receive permanent residence permits.

Limited right to family member immigration for persons in need of protection with temporary residence permits.

Refugees with temporary residence permits will only have the right to be reunited with immediate family members. In the case of married couples, both parties will have to be at least 21 years of age to be granted the right to family reunification. Persons eligible for subsidiary protection who have temporary residence permits will not have a right to family reunification.

Tougher maintenance requirements.

A maintenance requirement will apply to all family member immigration except when refugees apply for family reunification during the first three months after having been granted refugee status.

The maintenance requirement will be broadened to include a requirement that the sponsor must be able to support family members who come to Sweden.

Persons otherwise in need of protection will not be entitled to a residence permit.

Persons in the category ‘otherwise in need of protection’ will not be entitled to a residence permit.

The provision on residence permits on grounds of exceptionally/particularly distressing circumstances will be replaced by a provision allowing a residence permit to be granted on humanitarian grounds in certain very limited exceptional cases.

There will not be any special provision on residence permits for children, but the fundamental provision on the best interests of the child will continue to apply.

The Government wants to introduce medical age determination of asylum seekers

The question of whether an asylum seeker is under the age of 18 is important for housing and care as well as for the issue of a residence permit. It is important to find a system that allows medical age determination of asylum seekers to be used in cases where there is a lack of reliable documents that can verify a person’s exact age and when doubts remain about the age that has been given. 

Sweden will soon introduce ID checks on all modes of public transport to Sweden

This will mean the ID checks already in place will be supplemented by ID checks on the ferry between Helsingör and Helsingborg as well as on trains and bus traffic across the Öresund Bridge.