The Asylum Process
This information is based on details provided by the Swedish Migration Agency’s website.
Seeking Asylum as an LGBTQ Person
In Sweden, it is the Migration Agency that first reviews applications for asylum. The rules regarding who can be granted asylum are contained in the UN’s Refugee Convention and the relevant Swedish law, the Aliens Act.
How Do I Seek Asylum?
You may request asylum at the border, upon entering Sweden. The police are responsible for border control and will check that your passport is valid.
In many cases, travellers can cross the border into Sweden without controls because Sweden is part of the Schengen area. Everyone who has the right to reside in a country that is part of the Schengen agreement can travel freely within the area, however, border control in non-Schengen countries is thorough. If asylum is request, the police hand over the case to the Swedish Migration Agency.
You should seek asylum at the Swedish border. If you have already entered the country, you can apply at one of the Migration Agency’s offices in Gävle, Märsta, Göteborg, Malmö, Norrköping or Stockholm.
The Migration Agency decides if you should apply in Sweden, or if another country is obliged process your case. If it is obvious that you lack grounds to seek asylum, the Migration Agency can make a quick decision, for example, if you are a citizen of another EU country.
You will be called to many meetings at the Migration Agency during the early part of your time in Sweden. It is important that you show up for these meetings. It is also a good idea to learn what your rights and obligations are to get as fair an investigation as possible. If you contact RFSL Newcomers, you can get support and information about your rights.
Why it is Important to Get a Good Counsel
You will be provided a public counsel who will support you through the application process. If you want a specific counsel, you have to advise the Migration Agency as soon as possible. Aino Gröndahl is RFSL’s Asylum Lawyer, who works with asylum-seeking LGBTQ people, and you can ask the Migration Agency to have Aino Gröndahl as your counsel. If you are unsure, contact RFSL Newcomers to receive support and find out what best suits your needs.
As not all counsels have LGBTQ competence and many lack awareness of LGBTQ issues, this can harm your application process and prevent you from receiving a fair investigation.
If you contact RFSL Newcomers at the start, or before your process begins, you can get support and good legal advice from the beginning. If you already have a counsel who you feel does not have LGBTQ competency, please contact RFSL Newcomers and receive support.
No one better than you knows why you left your country. For the Migration Agency to make a fair investigation of your reasons for coming to Sweden, it is important that you tell them exactly what has happened in your country from the start. As an LGBTQ person, it is important that you disclose your sexuality and/or gender identity at the first visit. You can be granted asylum in Sweden if you are an LGBTQ person who is persecuted in your native country.
The Migration Agency will ask questions about your identity, so you must bring your passport or other identification documents. The documents should state your name, date of birth, and citizenship. You are expected to state why you are seeking asylum and what has happened to you. Some things may be hard to talk about, but these can be especially important. If you need to, you can take a break in the interview. You can bring information that supports your story or provides details about your country of origin.
Swedish law requires that the asylum seeker presents evidence for the asylum process, together with their public counsel.
Choosing a Place to Live
The Migration Agency provides asylum seekers a place to live that is free of charge and is either a regular apartment in a residential area or refugee accommodation of different sorts.
The asylum seeker manages their own household, however, families can expect to share an apartment with other people, and single adults get to share a room.
More than half of those seeking asylum in Sweden choose to find their own place to live with friends or family.
What can you do if you have experienced discrimination, harassment, threats or violence where you live?
RFSL Newcomers meet many asylum-seeking LGBTQ people who have been subject to discrimination, harassment, threats or violence at refugee accommodation provided by the Migration Agency. Please contact RFSL Newcomers for support and advice.
Everyone who seeks asylum in Sweden is issued with an identification card that shows that they are asylum seekers – an LMA card (LMA is an abbreviation of the law of reception of asylum seekers). The card is supposed to facilitate contact between the asylum seeker and society, for example, with the County Council. Asylum seekers with their own money should pay for their expenses, however, if they have no money, they can apply for a daily allowance that is supposed to cover food costs, clothing, phone, hygiene, newspapers, and leisure activities.
The daily allowance is:
71 kr/day for adults
61 kr/day for co-habitants
37-50 kr/day for each child (0-7 years) (when the number of children exceeds 3, the allowance is halved)
The daily allowance can be reduced if the asylum seeker is absent and complicates the investigation.
Asylum Seekers’ Right to Healthcare
It is the County Council that is responsible for the healthcare of asylum seekers. The County Council is reimbursed by the state, through the Migration Agency. All asylum seekers in Sweden are offered a free medical exam. Adults in need of emergency care (or other care that needs immediate attention) pay a patient’s fee of 50 kr. For prescription medication, there is a fee of 50 kr, and 40 kr for transportation. Asylum-seeking children have the same right to healthcare and dental care as other children in Sweden.
In some cases, asylum seekers and other foreigners can be taken into custody. People are taken into custody if they need to be present during an investigation. It can be necessary to keep someone in custody to investigate their identity.
If someone is to be deported, custody can also be an option, but only if the authorities believe that the person will flee. It is rare that children are taken into custody and then only with their parents.
At the holding facilities, you can participate in activities, go outdoors, and receive visitors. Instead of taking someone into custody, it can sometimes be enough to let the police hold the person’s documents and for the asylum seeker to report to the police station.
When you seek asylum in Sweden, you receive a receipt for your application and a few days later you get a so-called LMA card. The card replaces the receipt and shows that you are an asylum seeker and have the right to be in Sweden during your waiting period. The card will give you reduced fees in healthcare. Even though the LMA card has the same format as an identity card (ID), it is not a recognised legal ID card. It only validates that you are registered at the Migration Agency under the name on your card.
You must return the card if you receive a residence permit or if you have to leave Sweden.