Asylum seeker held 18 months on remand

Mehdi Kadirou, a rejected asylum seeker, has been kept locked up for 18 months in an Uppsala cell while the police and migration authorities decide where to return him, according to a report in the local Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper.

“I have not come across another case of a person being held in custody for so long,” said Tobias Iwarsson, duty officer at Uppsala remand prison, to the newspaper.

Kadirou’s eighteen months on remand has so far cost the penal system 1.2 million kronor ($ 161,000) and is considerably longer than average.

The 29-year-old, who claims to come from Algeria – a country he left as a 13-year-old, describes his situation as “torture-like”.

“You can’t imagine the nightmare in which I am living. Second after second locked up like an animal,” Mehdi Kadirou told the newspaper.

Kadirou came to Sweden in 2007 and applied for asylum. The same year he stole a jacket from a store after threatening staff with a pair of scissors. He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and then deportation.

After serving his sentence for the robbery, Mehdi Kadirou’s problems began.

The Algerian embassy in Stockholm declared itself unwilling to get involved in his case. He is unable to prove his identity as since fleeing the north African country he claims that he has lived on the streets and has never possessed any identity papers.

The Swedish police are working to determine his identity, a process which will be resumed in two months time and could in theory continually indefinitely, the newspaper writes.

According to Swedish law a person may not be held remanded in custody for a period longer than two months unless there are “extreme circumstances”.

Tobias Iwarsson is critical that Mehdi Kadirou remains in his care pending the completion of the investigation.

“It would be one thing if he were violent, but this case concerns a diligent person,” Iwarsson said.

Kadirou’s legal counsel, Helena Jonsson, has submitted a request for her client to be transferred to one of the Migration Board’s detention centres during the course of the police investigation but the application has been rejected.

A psychiatrist that has met Mehdi Kadirou in custody has concluded that the long periods of solitary confinement have caused the onset of depression and delusional behaviour.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture under the Council of Europe visited Sweden’s prisons and remand prisons in 2009. The subsequent report noted that Sweden had on previous occasions been urged to desist from holding people for extended periods on remand.

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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.