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IMMIGRATION

UN to monitor Swedish migration board

The United Nations refugee organ, the UNHCR, plans to spend nine months closely monitoring the work methods of the Migration Board (Migrationsverket). The UNHCR regularly directs criticism at Swedish migration policies.

An official from the UNHCR is set to spend nine months following 200 asylum cases on site at the Migration Board, and then formulate a report with recommendations based on the experience.

“This is an evaluation project where we invite the UNHCR to follow up our asylum decisions,” the board’s legal head Michael Ribbenvik told the TT news agency.

Together with a reference group, including staff from the board and the United Nations, the official will follow the handling of cases through to their conclusion, as well as participating in inquiries and decisions.

The UNHCR has previous been a stern critic of Swedish migration policies, specifically since deportations to Iraq were resumed.

The organ has directed criticism over deportations to Baghdad, among other places, which the UNHCR did not consider to be sufficiently safe.

But according to Ribbenvik, there are no existing conflicts at all between the UN organ and his own authority.

“We work together on a daily basis, and have the whole time been in agreement over the situation in Baghdad. UNHCR criticizes the actions of states, and this is to be welcomed, but we can not always follow the recommendations due to the nature of Swedish legislation,” Ribbenvik said.

“I can not think of a better partner in a development cooperation than the UNHCR,” he said.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

In Sweden, a sambo is domestic partner – someone you’re in a relationship with and live with, but to whom you aren’t married. If you, as a non-EU citizen, are in a sambo relationship with a Swedish citizen, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of that relationship. But meeting the requirements of that permit is not always straightforward.

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

An American reader, whose son lives with his Swedish partner, wrote to The Local with questions about the maintenance requirement her son and his partner must meet in order to qualify for a sambo resident permit.

“Their specific issue is that they meet the requirements for a stable relationship and stable housing, but have been told that qualifying for a sambo visa based on savings is unlikely,” she wrote, asking for suggestions on how to approach this issue. Her son’s partner is a student with no income, but whose savings meet maintenance requirements. But, they have been told by lawyers that Migrationsverket will likely deny the application based on the absence of the Swedish partner’s income.

How do relationships qualify for sambo status?

In order to apply for a residence permit on the basis of a sambo relationship, you and your partner must either be living together, or plan to live together as soon as the non-Swedish partner can come to Sweden. Because this reader’s son is already in Sweden as a graduate student, he can apply for a sambo permit without having to leave the country, provided that his student permit is still valid at the time the new application is submitted.

The Migration Agency notes that “you can not receive a residence permit for the reason that you want to live with a family member in Sweden before your current permit expires”. So once your valid permit is close to expiration, you can apply for a new sambo permit.

What are the maintenance requirements for a sambo permit?

The maintenance requirements for someone applying for a sambo permit fall on the Swedish partner, who must prove that they are able to support both themselves and their partner for the duration of the permit. This includes both housing and financial requirements.

In terms of residential standards that applicants must meet, they must show that they live in a home of adequate size – for two adult applicants without children, that means at least one room with a kitchen. If rented, the lease must be for at least one year.

The financial requirements are more complicated. The Swedish partner must be able to document a stable income that can support the applicant and themselves – for a sambo couple, the 2022 standard is an income of 8,520 kronor per month. This burden falls on the Swedish partner.

While the Migration Agency’s website does say that you may “fulfil the maintenance requirement (be considered able to support yourself) if you have enough money/taxable assets to support yourself, other persons in your household and the family members who are applying for a residence permit for at least two years”, it is unclear how proof of this would be documented. On a separate page detailing the various documents that can be used to prove that maintenance requirements are met, there is nothing about how to document savings that will be used to support the couple.

Can you apply on the basis of savings instead of income?

Well, this is unclear. The Migration Agency’s website does suggest that having enough money saved up to support both members of the sambo relationship is an option, but it gives no details on how to document this. It is also unclear whether applying on the basis of savings will disadvantage applicants, with preference given to applicants who can show proof of income from work.

The Local has reached out to an immigration lawyer to answer this question. 

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