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Sweden sets immigration record in 2012

Sweden sets immigration record in 2012

Published: 03 Jan 2013 17:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Jan 2013 17:30 GMT+01:00

Sweden issued a record number of residence permits in 2012, with the total tally ending up at 110,000, a 19-percent hike from 2011 with refugees accounting for the bulk of the increase, statistics from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) show.

As a group, people in need of protection (skyddsbehövande) saw the biggest increase, with 37 percent more applications being approved in 2012 compared to 2011.

Almost 4,600 people arrived in Sweden per month in the latter part of year, accelerated in large part by the civil war in Syria.

There were more than 7,000 applications from Syrians, of which about 5,000 were granted.

In total, Syrians stood for 18 percent of all applications, with Somalis and Afghans at 13 and 11 percent respectively. They together formed the majority of asylum seekers to Sweden.

Migration Board head Anders Danielsson thinks the authorities still manage to treat all applications fairly.

"But our resources are under a lot of pressure," he told the TT news agency.

The authorities sped up the time it took to process applications for unaccompanied minors who sought asylum (ensamkommande flyktingbarn). It now takes on average 108 instead of 149 days to get a decision.

Afghanistan is the country of origin of most of the unaccompanied minors, although the authorities noted a rise in young migrants from previously less-represented countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Uganda and Syria.

Almost 3,600 children and teens sought asylum in 2012, a 35-percent increase from the year before.

Sweden grants residence to the highest number of underage asylum seekers in Europe.

The Swedish authorities also noted a rise of applications from the Western Balkan nations. Serbia stood for more than half, trailed by Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania, with migrants leaving for "socio-economic reasons", the Migration Board noted.

The total number of asylum applications clocks in at 44,000. In comparison, Germany went through 64,000 asylum applications in 2012 while France processed 60,000.

People coming to Sweden to join relatives made up the biggest group of new residents - 41,000 applications were granted, up by 27 percent from the previous year.

A court decision from the Migration Court in January 2012 also set a legal precedent and opened the door for more relatives to join their families. It affected mostly the Swedish-Somali community but migrants from Thailand, Iraq and Serbia also dominated the applications.

About 8,000 people were granted residency permits because a member of their family was either an asylum seeker or needed special protection. The majority were Somalis.

Family members joining people who work in Sweden increased to 9,700 from 8,200 the year before. India, Syria and China were highly represented in the statistics.

And about 17,000 working permits were granted to citizens of non-EU countries.

The Migration Board noted that IT workers from India and China were the second biggest group, trumped only by seasonal berrypickers from Thailand.

From outside the EU, 7,000 new foreign students arrived in Sweden in 2012, almost half compared to two years ago because of the introduction of university fees for non-EU students, the Migration Board noted.

Chinese students are the most numerous, followed by Turkey, the US, Australia, and India.

EU students instead increased by 68 percent to 3,500 students, most of them from Germany, France and Spain.

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