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IMMIGRATION

Sweden braces for asylum application spike

Swedish migration authorities have ratcheted up their forecast for the number of asylum seekers and labour migrants who will arrive in Sweden during 2012.

Sweden braces for asylum application spike

Previously, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) estimated that 31,000 people would seek asylum in Sweden this year.

But in a forecast submitted to the government on Thursday, the agency raised its forecast by nearly 10 percent, estimating 34,000 asylum seekers will come to Sweden by the end of 2012.

The agency also expects a greater number of immigrants from Somalia to come to Sweden on the basis of family ties and has thus requested an increase in funding from the government.

“We’ve seen for a long time that there is an increase underway and there is continued unrest in Afghanistan and Somalia,” said Oskar Ekblad, division head for asylum cases at the Migration Board, told the TT news agency.

According to the agency’s new forecast, there have been more asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Somalia this year compared to the same period in 2011. There has also been an increase in the number of people from Syria seeking asylum in Sweden.

In addition, a migration court ruling from January that makes it easier for family members of recently arrived refugees to stay in Sweden is expected to cause more family members of recently arrived refugees from Somalia to seek residency in Sweden.

While the Migration Board had previously estimated it would receive 18,500 applications from Somalia last year, it now expects to receive 20,000 applications in 2012.

“Sweden is clearly becoming a destination country,” said Ekblad.

The agency also expects an increase in labour immigration in 2012.

As a result of the expected increase in refugee and immigration applications, the Migration Board has requested additional funding of 65 million kronor ($9.6 million)for this year, and 214 million kronor for 2013.

“We need to be able to receive and assess the applications,” said Ekblad.

TT/The Local/dl

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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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