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IMMIGRATION

Syrians largest asylum seeker group in Sweden

The number of refugees seeking asylum in Sweden has doubled since last year, with the largest group being from Syria, according to data from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

Syrians largest asylum seeker group in Sweden

In the year to date, 4,474 people fleeing Syria’s civil war arrived in Sweden, with 1,506 of those arriving in the past five weeks.

Last year, 640 Syrians applied for asylum in Sweden.

So far this year, a total of 29,713 people have sought protection in Sweden, a 48 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

As these figures emerged, three leading Green Party politicians labelled Sweden’s refugee policy “inhumane”.

Åsa Romson, the Green Party spokesperson, Mehmet Kaplan, party spokesperson for legal rights issues and Maria Ferm, spokesperson for migration policy, made the accusation in an opinion piece for the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The piece was published ahead of a weekend Green Party conference in Linköping, central Sweden, focusing on migration and legal rights.

“The reception of refugees is a national commitment according to international conventions”, the three politicians wrote.

“But while the Assad regime in Syria bombs its people and many are forced to flee the country, several Swedish municipalities are turning away unaccompanied refugee children.”

The authors called for all Swedish political parties to cooperate to create a “more humane Sweden”. They also called for a change in the law to ensure that no municipality will be allowed to turn away unaccompanied refugee children.

“When people are forced to flee the battles in Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan we all have a responsibility. Children who have lost their families and have escaped to Sweden need a safe home.”

Sweden is currently accepting more refugees from Syria than any other European country.

Between January and August 2012, 43 unaccompanied children arrived from Syria, according to statistics from the Swedish Migration Board. This was a 430 per cent increase on the same period last year, when 10 unaccompanied Syrian children arrived in Sweden.

AFP/The Local/nr

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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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