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IMMIGRATION

Sweden asylum seeker figures jump 30 percent

The number of people seeking asylum in Sweden increased by 30 percent during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period last year, new statistics show.

Sweden asylum seeker figures jump 30 percent

So far this year, 16,335 asylum seekers have come to Sweden, up from the 12,595 people who applied for asylum during the first six months of 2011, according to new figures from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

In addition, 1,467 of the asylum seekers who have come to Sweden so far in 2012 are unaccompanied minors, an increase of 52 percent from the same period last year.

A majority of the children come from Afghanistan and Somalia, according to the Migration Board.

Following a January ruling by the Migration Court of Appeal (Migrationsöverdomstolen) making it easier for families from Somalia to be reunited in Sweden, the number of asylum seekers from Somalia has risen by 58 percent to 2,507, making Somalis the largest group of asylum seekers in Sweden.

The second highest number of asylum seekers, 2,012, came from Afghanistan, an increase of 32 percent compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the number of asylum seekers from Syria has increased more than four-fold, from 254 during the first six months of 2011 to 1,212 in the first half of 2012, making Syrians the third largest group of asylum seekers.

The Migration Board also reported a drop in the number of people seeking residence in Sweden based on family ties.

The number of immigrants coming to Sweden based on newly-established family ties fell by 800 to 12,707, while the number of immigrants seeking residence based on established ties dropped by 9 percent from 3,322 to 3,017.

Excluding seasonal berry pickers, the number of labour migrants from outside the EU/EES-area fell slightly with 6,215 people being granted work permits so far in 2012, compared to 6,734 in the first half of 2011.

Computer specialists are the the largest category of non-EU labour migrants, with 1,733 being granted temporary work permits in Sweden during the first six months of the year, an increase of 40 percent from last year.

The number of engineers and other technical specialists granted work permits has also increased, with most coming from India, China, and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the trend of fewer labour migrants working in the restaurant and service branch continued.

However, the number of berry pickers offered work permits in Sweden has increased dramatically, jumping from 494 during the first half of 2011 to 5,240 for the first six months of 2012.

According to the Migration Board, the rise can be explained to some extent by the fact that many applications were filed after July 1st last year.

Nevertheless, the number of berry pickers is expected to be substantially higher this year compared to 2011.

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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