Iraq calls on Sweden to halt forced deportations

Iraq wants to put a stop to the forced deportation of Iraqis from Sweden after their asylum claims are rejected, but Sweden’s migration minister sees no reason to adjust the practice.

Iraq calls on Sweden to halt forced deportations

Iraq’s ambassador in Stockholm, Hussain al-Ameri, told Sveriges Radio his country wants to see an end to the forced deportations.

“The Iraqi government is ready to accept those who return voluntarily. But there are serious questions around forced deportations,” said the ambassador.

An agreement between Sweden and Iraq signed governing the return of Iraqis came into force in 2008. Since then, around 5,000 Iraqis have returned voluntarily, while more than 800 have been send back against their will, according the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

However, Iraq’s Minister of Immigration & Immigrants, Dindar Najman Shaifiq al-Dosky, now wants to launch a dialogue with Sweden and other countries about the forcible return of Iraqi’s who lose their bids for asylum.

According to the agreement, Iraqis who are deemed not to need protection and don’t want to return voluntarily will be “ordered to leave Sweden”, but that the return to Iraq should occurred “step-wise, humanely, and in an organised manner”.

While Iraq has started to question Sweden’s interpretation of the agreement on returns, Sweden’s migration minister Tobias Billström sees no reason to stop the forced deportations, emphasising that Iraqis who aren’t granted asylum in Sweden should leave.

“The cooperation between Swedish and Iraqi authorities has worked very well,” Billström told SvD, adding that Iraq hasn’t requested the agreement be renegotiated.

Chartered flights carrying Iraqis back to their homeland from Sweden were stopped for several weeks earlier this winter following a request from the European Court of Human Rights, which was looking into appeals launched by would-be Iraqi refugees in Sweden who contested their deportation orders.

Flights resumed in mid-December however, with the next flight of Iraqis being forced to leave Sweden set to take off from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport on January 19th, according to SvD.

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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.