Swedish teachers lash out at Afghanistan deportation plan

Hundreds of Swedish teachers have expressed anger at a new deal that could see pupils deported to Afghanistan.

Swedish teachers lash out at Afghanistan deportation plan
A home for unaccompanied minors in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Sweden’s tougher new line on refugees and asylum seekers undermines educators and destabilizes the lives of children who have already suffered terribly, write 300 teachers in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. 

“We demand that Sweden not go ahead with deportations to Afghanistan,” they write. 

When the government signed a bilateral repatriation deal with Afghanistan earlier this month, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson hailed it as a “success for Sweden”.

Afghanistan has pledged to shield returning citizens from harassment and persecution, while Sweden will cover the transport costs as well as honouring an earlier promise to pay families up to 70,000 kronor ($8,000) to facilitate their return. 

With Afghanistan agreeing to accept returnees, Sweden was free to begin deporting the 838 Afghans whose asylum applications had been rejected. 

A further 36,000 Afghans are awaiting asylum rulings. 

Unaccompanied minors can only be deported if family members or other guardians can give them a home. 

“A few days ago one of our pupils received his deportation order. He is 15. In three years he will be deported to Afghanistan. He is far from alone and now risks spending years of his development at war, in refugee camps, underground, or on the run.” 

With much of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban, and institutional racism against Persian-speaking Hazaras commonplace, many of the young Afghans had never even set foot in their parents’ homeland, the teachers claim. 

Instead many grew up in Iran, where they toiled as child workers without any rights.  

“It would be shameful to deport children and youths en masse to Afghanistan. The government must immediately halt all such plans! What is a government even worth if if is incapable of protecting children in its own country and giving them hope for the future?”

For members


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.