Migration and asylum policy

Swedish migration policy covers refugee and immigration policy, returns, support for repatriation and the connection between migration and development. It also includes cooperation at international level on these issues.

Migration and asylum policy is by nature a cross-border issue. People move between different countries in the world. Some are forced to flee persecution, while others move for economic and social reasons. They may do so to start a family, work or study in another country. They may also move to another country in the hope of finding better prospects for the future. Migration often has a major impact on the development of both country of origin and country of destination.

The objective is to guarantee a migration policy that is sustainable in the long term and that, within the framework of regulated immigration, safeguards the right of asylum, facilitates cross-border mobility, promotes needs-based labour immigration, makes use and takes account of the development impacts of migration and deepens European and international cooperation.

Sweden must take its share of the responsibility for the international protection of refugees. An important part of this responsibility is to provide protection - through resettlement in Sweden - for people fleeing in a third country who do not have access to any other permanent solution. Sweden is to engage in constructive cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and to have a humane refugee policy, as well as be a place of refuge for people fleeing persecution and oppression. The possibility of seeking asylum must be safeguarded and the trend in Europe towards more closed borders must be opposed. One of the Government's primary objectives in the area of migration is common asylum rules for countries in the EU. All EU Member States must share the responsibility for offering protection to refugees. If Sweden has to shoulder a disproportionate share of the responsibility for refugee situations around the world in relation to comparable countries, this will eventually raise questions about the sustainability of our asylum system.

Sweden has created an efficient and flexible system for labour immigration. The new rules for labour immigration entered into force on 15 December 2008 and their aim is to facilitate the recruitment of labour from third countries. An employer who cannot meet his or her labour needs with employees from EU/EEA countries or Switzerland is allowed to employ a third-country national if it can be ensured that the terms of employment and insurance protection are equivalent to those that would apply for an employee already in Sweden.

EU cooperation

A large part of the political work in the area of asylum and migration takes place within the context of EU cooperation. The EU ministers responsible for asylum and migration issues meet regularly in the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA). The JHA Council usually meets two to four times per six-month period.

With the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam, asylum and migration issues became part of Community law. In the 2004 Hague Programme the Member States decided to develop a common asylum system. The Stockholm Programme adopted in 2009 states that a common asylum process is to be established by 2012 at the latest. The goal is to achieve a higher joint level of protection and more equal protection throughout the EU, and to ensure greater solidarity among the EU Member States.

The migration issue has come to play an increasingly prominent role in EU external relations in recent years. The EU helps, in partnership with third countries, to build up institutions, legislation and other capacity for dealing with migration in countries of origin and transit.


The Government and the Riksdag determine the direction of migration policy.

The Swedish Migration Board is responsible for migration, refugee, repatriation and citizenship issues.

Decisions of the Swedish Migration Board in asylum and citizenship cases can be appealed to one of the four migration courts, i.e. the administrative courts in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Luleå. Reviews of the decisions of migration courts are made in a third instance, a Migration Court of Appeal, which is the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm.