How to apply for asylum in Sweden?

Sweden is the only country in Europe with an abysmal increase, from one year to the next, in the number of asylum applications. This happened in 2015, when the State received more than 162 thousand requests; the 2014 record was around 81 thousand cases. For this reason, at present, it has a more robust legislative system for refugees and foreigners; coupled with a strict control of its borders.

It follows that it is not an impossible immigration procedure, but it is quite demanding, benefiting people who really need international help. If you are interested in knowing what steps you will have to follow to be part of the Swedish refugee list, then read on.

First considerations for applying for protection in Sweden

The Swedish Migration Board (DGMS) is the administrative body responsible for asylum applications, the reception system during processing and the logistics of voluntary or forced return, as the case may be. In addition, it is the competent authority for the implementation of the procedure and resolution of the requests.

As of 2015, the DGMS implemented a new registration system for international protection requests. With it, the collection of initial data, to classify cases according to their size, became more efficient. However, the results have not been as expected and the waiting times are getting longer and longer; so you will have to be patient.

Types of protection

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When applying for international aid in Sweden, you can opt for the refugee status or by the subsidiary protection. The latter applies when:

  • Returning to your home country would cause a risk of death or corporal punishment, torture or other inhumane treatment.
  • You are unable or, because of your fears, unwilling to avail yourself of the protection of your home country.

As of 2019, persons who are granted refugee status in Sweden are granted a residence permit valid for three years, with the right to renewal. And in the case of the subsidiary protection benefit, the authorization to stay is valid for 13 months, with an option to extend for another 24 months if the conditions of fear persist.

Now, if you have sufficient resources to remain in the country, the validity of the granted permit may be extended and may even be replaced by a permanent residence. But if this is not your case, do not forget that Sweden constantly makes humanitarian exceptions to support your legality in its territory.

Procedure for processing an asylum request in Sweden

If you are on Swedish soil, and you need to apply for international protection, you must notify the border authorities of your reasons for seeking asylum. Currently, there are only three registration offices for adults in the country, and they are located in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg. Unaccompanied minors can go to the above-mentioned offices and additionally to Boden Nörrkoping, Sundsvall, Umeå and Örebro.

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Step 1. Notification

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When you report your status to the border police, the officers will ask you some questions about who you are, why you need asylum and how was your travel scheme to Sweden. After answering you will be transferred to the DGMS, where the interrogation will continue; and, in addition, you will have to hand over the identification documents, being valid:

• Birth certificate.
• Military service book.
• Marriage certificate.
• Identity card.

If you feel it is necessary, request the services of an interpreter, a public defender, or that the officer handling your case be of a specific gender. You may also express the desire not to share a room with asylum seekers of a particular gender.

Step 2. Liability investigation

At the DGMS you will have your photograph taken, which will be used for registration and for the reception law card for asylum seekers and others (LMA). This will allow you to prove to the Swedish authorities that you are a candidate for international protection and have the right to remain in the country until the procedure is resolved.

They will also register your fingerprints and those of your children over the age of six. The purpose of this is to check whether you have applied for protection in another Schengen country. If so, the DGMS will apply the guidelines set out in the Dublin III Regulation (see here).

Step 3. Personal interview

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Once your details have been recorded, you will undergo an interview, during which you will have to explain verbally and in detail who you are, why you decided to emigrate and what was your route to Sweden. You will also be asked questions about your family and your state of health, both physical and mental. Here you will still have the right to request an interpreter for the language you speak.

However, if you have a functional disability, whether physical, mental or intellectual, it is essential that you notify the DGMS so that they can use resources to facilitate communication. Similarly, you will be eligible for housing adapted to your limitations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, you will be informed about the next steps of the application, as well as your rights and duties as an applicant. Some of them are:

• Having a place to live
• Receive financial assistance and health care
• To have access to schools for your children.
• Covering your expenses while you are waiting for the application decision, if you have the resources.

If necessary, you will be summoned to a Second interview where they will ask you for more details about the reasons that forced you to flee your country, and why you consider that you would be in danger if you returned. It is essential that you prepare well for the meeting; since, if the DGMS determines that you do not have grounds for asylumwill immediately issue a expulsion decision at short notice.

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Step 4. Decision on your asylum application

interview sweden

When the DGMS makes a decision on your asylum application, you will be summoned to a meeting at the offices of the immigration unit to be notified of the decision and what it means. The options will be:

  • Application approved. You will be issued a residence permit and will have the right to live and work in Sweden. In addition, you will receive a declaration of refugee status, which is for international use and is based on both the Geneva Convention regulations and the EU directive on qualification for protection.
  • Rejected application. This means that the DGMS considers that you did not provide sufficient grounds for international protection. So you can either accept the decision and return to your country or appeal the case to be re-evaluated, but this time before a competent court. In the second case, Sweden will still require you to plan your departure from the territory.

If you decide to accept the removal or deportation decision of your own free will, you must sign a document called a declaration of conformity. This makes it impossible for you to appeal the decision.

Work during the refugee claim in Sweden

Sweden will require you to pay your living expenses during the time in which your status in the country is decided. You will be able to work; but, you will have to have a certificate that guarantees that you are exempt from obligation to have a work permit (AT-UND)which they award when:

  • You present valid identity documents, or if you collaborate in another way to know who you are.
  • The government decides that your case will be processed in Sweden.
  • You have well-founded arguments to make the request.

When you receive a resolution related to AT-UND certification, the information described above is automatically recorded on your LMA card and will remain in effect until the case is resolved or abandoned. In this regard, your employer will be able to verify your work exemption by scanning the QR code.

Please note that, from the age of 16 onwards, you will need an AT-UND to work in Sweden. And it applies if you came to Sweden with your family or if you are an unaccompanied minor. However, if your asylum application is denied, but you worked during the time the application was pending, you can apply for a work permit. More information here.


In recent years, Sweden has become one of the main destinations for people seeking international protection within the EU. As a result, the state is constantly reaching out to help those in need, without discriminating against any nation.

In fact, it is one of the few countries that grants a four-month stay permit if the asylum application is rejected. This is enough time for you to organize or file an appeal, which you can write in your native language.

Undoubtedly, if you are violated, persecuted, threatened or discriminated against in your home country, you have an open door in Sweden. You just have to be honest, respect their laws and follow every step stipulated for a successful outcome.

come sweden

Maya Martinez

Legal advisor for immigration processes. In addition to providing support in the legal procedures, I offer integral and informative support in relation to the obligations that are acquired when arriving to a new country.

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