How many people are expected to apply for Swedish work permits in 2020?

How many people are expected to apply for Swedish work permits in 2020?
The coronavirus pandemic has hit people's ability and willingness to travel to Sweden. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT
Sweden expects asylum applications to drop to their lowest level of the millennium, following the impact of the pandemic on global travel. Work and study permits are also expected to decrease.

The Migration Agency's latest forecast predicts that between 10,000 and 17,000 people will have sought asylum in Sweden by the turn of the year, down from almost 22,000 applications last year.

“It's a historically low number. We have to go back to 1999, when there were 11,000, for similar levels,” Migration Agency director-general Mikael Ribbenvik told Swedish newswire TT.

The downturn is caused by travel restrictions and other measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, he said, and should not be interpreted as a sign that the state of the world is improving. Instead of fleeing starvation and conflicts, refugees now have little choice but to remain in their countries or in camps.

Many of the people who have applied for asylum during the pandemic were already in Sweden at the time of their application. In the first months only around 12 percent had recently travelled from abroad. Today, around half of weekly asylum seekers are already in Sweden, and half have recently travelled here.

Several categories of international residents are affected by the impact of the coronavirus. For example, far fewer people than originally predicted are expected to apply for residence permits in Sweden this year.

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Around 39,000 people are expected to have applied for a first-time residence permit linked to working in Sweden by the end of the year, according to the Migration Agency's new predictions. That's around 20,000 fewer than last year, and 12,000 fewer than the last forecast in May.

First-time student permit applicants are meanwhile expected to fall from just over 19,400 last year to around 14,000 this year – 6,000 fewer compared to the May forecast. Student permit holders are now included in the exemptions to the EU entry ban, but the uncertainty of knowing how their studies will be affected by the coronavirus and travel restrictions has affected many people's situation, as The Local has reported.

The number of permit extensions in both categories is expected to stay largely the same (around 32,000 work permit extensions this year – similar to last year and 2,000 more compared to the May forecast).

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