How can refugees or subsidiary protection holders in Sweden reunite with their relatives?
If you are a refugee or “subsidiary protection” holder in Sweden, you may apply for a residence permit for some family members. Your family members can use this residence permit to travel to and stay in Sweden.
If you have refugee status or subsidiary protection in Sweden, you may apply for your spouse and children to join you. If you are under 18, you may apply for your parents to join you. This is called petitioning for your relative. You are the sponsor (also called “reference person”).
When you fill out the form, answer questions about the sponsor with information about yourself. Your relative is the “applicant.” The applicant does not need to show that they were persecuted in their country.
In “exceptional circumstances” you may sponsor other relatives. Exceptional circumstances are when a relative depends on you for support like money, psychological support, or emotional support. You will need to include evidence of this in your application. In this situation, you may sponsor other relatives like your siblings who are less than 18 years old, or if you are an adult you can sponsor your parent.
Who is eligible?
General Applicant Requirements
- The applicant must prove who they are. Usually, the applicant must submit a valid national passport. However, if an applicant meets the requirements below, they can instead submit a DNA test:
- The applicant and the sponsor are part of a family with common children. If the applicant is the parent or child of a sponsor in Sweden, they must be biologically related. If the applicant is the spouse of a sponsor in Sweden, they must have common children together.
- The applicant has “made their identity probable.” The applicant will have an interview at a Swedish Embassy. At the interview, the applicant must explain who they are and where they come from. The Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) will decide if the applicant meets the requirement.
- The applicant and sponsor give “coherent information” about who the applicant is.
- The applicant cannot get a passport or ID because their home country's government may persecute them. The applicant can also meet this requirement if Sweden does not recognize documents from the applicant’s home country. Sweden does not recognize Somali documents. Sweden currently recognizes documents from all other countries.
- If the applicant is the sponsor’s spouse, they must have lived together as a couple outside of Sweden before the sponsor came to Sweden.
Applying for your spouse or partner
- You may apply for your spouse or partner in any of the following three situations.
- First, if you are legally married.
- Second, if you are in a registered civil partnership.
- Third, if you are in a “cohabitation partnership” and want to live together in Sweden.
- You may be in a cohabitation partnership if you were not married but lived together like you were married. If you only lived together for a short period of time, you may not be able to prove you are in a cohabitation partnership.
- In most cases, you and your spouse or partner must have gotten married when you were both at least 18 years old. Your spouse or partner must usually also be at least 18 years old now. Child marriages are usually not recognized in Sweden.
- Sweden does not recognize some proxy marriages. If you or your spouse were not in the same place at the marriage ceremony, then you may have had a proxy marriage or contract marriage. If you or your spouse were in Sweden or had a connection to Sweden, when the marriage happened, then Sweden will not recognize the marriage.
- You should register your marriage with the Swedish Tax Agency before you submit a family reunification application. This is not required, but it may be helpful.
Applying for your child
- Your child must be unmarried and less than 18 years old.
- Your child must be less than 18 years old when you file the application. If your child turns 18 while their application is waiting on a decision from the SMA, then they can still qualify.
Applying for your parent
- If you are a child living alone in Sweden and want your parents to live with you, then you can sponsor your parents.
- You must be unmarried and must have been less than 18 years old when you applied for asylum.
- If you turned 18 years old after you applied for asylum, then you must apply for your parents no more than three months after receiving your asylum application decision.
- You must have arrived in Sweden without your parents or other guardians or have been abandoned after arriving in Sweden.
- You cannot sponsor your parents if you have been granted Swedish citizenship.
You may have to meet housing and financial requirements. The requirements change based on how old you are and when you file your application.
If you (the sponsor in Sweden) are less than 18 years old, then you do not have to meet housing and financial requirements.
If you (the sponsor in Sweden) are 18 or older, and you apply for family reunification within 3 months of being granted refugee or subsidiary protection status in Sweden, housing and financial requirements generally do not apply. The 3-month period starts when the SMA notifies you that you will receive international protection. If you were resettled to Sweden, the 3-month period starts when you arrive in Sweden.
When you apply, the Swedish government will decide if you and your family can safely resettle in another country. They will look at where your family has ties. If they decide you can resettle to another country where you have ties, then you must meet the housing and financial requirements.
If you apply more than 3 months after being granted refugee or subsidiary protection status in Sweden, then the housing and financial requirements apply.
This is the “maintenance requirement.” The requirement has two parts:
- First, you must show that you can financially support your relatives after they arrive in Sweden.
- Second, you must show that your apartment is big enough for your relatives to live with you in Sweden.
The Swedish government uses standards for both requirements.
The Swedish government looks at the cost of your rent in Sweden and a monthly amount of money based on your family size. The monthly amounts for 2022 are below. They will increase slightly starting 1 January each year:
- SEK 5,158 for a single adult
- SEK 8,520 for a couple living together
- SEK 2,756 for children aged 0-6
- SEK 3,308 for children aged 7-10
- SEK 3,860 for children aged 11-14
- SEK 4,411 for children aged 15 or over
If you receive a child allowance from the government, you can subtract that amount when you calculate the financial requirement. You can learn more about this government benefit in this Swedish government website.
For example, if you are a refugee living in Sweden and want to petition for your husband and two children (ages 6 and 12), you will need:
- SEK 8,520 for you and your husband, plus
- SEK 2,756 for your 6-year-old child, plus
- SEK 3,860 for your 12-year-old child, plus
- the cost of your rent, and then subtract
- any child support government benefits your family is receiving.
When you finish your calculation, you have a total monthly amount. If your income is greater than the total monthly amount, you can satisfy the financial requirement.
The housing requirement will change depending on the size of your family. Your family includes your relatives living with you now in Sweden, and the family members you want to bring to Sweden. For two adults without any children, a home is big enough if it has a kitchen or kitchenette and at least one room. If children are going to live in the home, there must be more rooms. Two children can share a bedroom.
The SMA will review whether you meet the income and housing requirements. You will need to meet the requirements at different times.
- First, you will need to meet the requirements when you file the application.
- Second, you will need to meet the requirements when the government decides your application.
- Third, you will need to show you will meet the requirements for one year after the decision.
This can often be difficult because the SMA takes a long time to make a decision. If you have a job, it may be helpful if you become a member of an unemployment benefit fund (unemployment insurance).
If your family situation changes during the reunification process, you should inform the SMA.
- If you change jobs, you should tell the SMA about your change in salary. Make sure to send them your new contract.
- If you or someone in your household has a child, tell the SMA about your new household size.
- If you move, tell the SMA about the new size of your residence and the new rent amount.
How to Apply
Who can file online
You (the sponsor) can apply online if you meet the requirements below.
- You and the applicant are 18 years of age or older.
- You have an email address.
- You can pay the application fee by Visa or MasterCard.
- You are able to scan or photograph the required documents.
If you are a child in Sweden applying for your parents, then you do not need to be over 18 years old. It is also possible to file online for children applying together with a parent. Instructions for the online application form are available here.
If you are eligible to apply online but you are not able to, you will need to send the completed application and all supporting evidence to this address:
903 03 Umeå
Cases not eligible for online filing
If you are filing a reunification application ONLY for your child or children who are under 18, you are not eligible to file online. Instead, you should complete this application form. The application must be submitted to the Swedish Embassy or Consulate in the country where your child is living.
If the applicant is applying at an Embassy or Consulate, they will pay the fee when they hand in their application in person.
Some applicants do not have to pay application fees. If you are applying for your spouse, cohabiting partner, registered partner or unmarried children under the age of 18, then there are no fees.
If you are applying for your parents or siblings, they will need to pay fees.
Documents you will need to include in your application
Evidence of Your Relationship to Your Relative
If you are applying for your spouse or partner, you will need to include the documents below.
- Valid passport or another identification document for your spouse or partner.
- Marriage certificate (if married).
- If your spouse or partner is not in their home country, documents that they have legal status where they live (for example, a UNHCR Refugee Card).
- While it is not required, we recommend that you submit other documents showing your ongoing relationship. Examples of documents are photos of your wedding, communication, money transfers, a letter describing how you met and how you were separated, etc.
If you are applying for your child who is under the age of 18, you will need to include the following documents in your application:
- Valid passport or another identification document for your child.
- Birth certificate listing you as the parent.
- If this document is not available, you can submit a religious document (such as a baptism certificate) or a legal document listing you as the legal guardian of the child.
- A court order if you have sole custody of the child, or a death certificate if the child's other parent is deceased.
- If your child is travelling alone without their other parent, the parent who is staying behind will need to provide their consent for the child to travel to Sweden through this form.
- Adoption papers if the child is adopted.
Evidence that you meet the financial and housing requirements
If you are applying more than 3 months after you were granted international protection status in Sweden, you must include documents to show you meet the financial and housing requirements. More information on the documents that are relevant based on your housing and employment situation can be found here.
What happens after you apply?
When you apply, you (the sponsor) will receive an email questionnaire from the SMA. It will have questions about your income, housing, and relationship with the applicant (your relative). You must complete the questionnaire and send it to the SMA within 14 days.
The SMA will usually take 12 to 24 months to make a decision. It may take more or less time for applications for different family members (spouse, children, etc.) or different nationalities.
To update the SMA about changes in your case, you can email them at email@example.com. Include your case or control number when you email them.
Appointments at the Swedish Embassy
After the SMA makes an initial decision, you (the sponsor) will receive an email. The email will explain how you can book an appointment for the applicant at a Swedish Embassy. It could take up to one year for an Embassy to schedule an appointment.
All of the applicants, including children, will need to attend the appointment. During the interview, the Embassy official will ask the applicants (your relatives) questions about their relationship with you, the sponsor. The applicants should bring the documents listed below to the appointment:
- Their passports or any other identification documents they have.
- Original copies of the documents submitted with the application (such as marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.).
If your child needs to attend the Embassy appointment alone, a guardian should come with them to the interview. Your child’s guardian will need to show their ID and a valid power of attorney at the Embassy.
As a general rule, the interview will take place at a Swedish Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s home country or where they lawfully reside. However, there are exceptions to this rule. This website has more information on where an interview can happen.
To check that an Embassy or Consulate is accessible in the country where your relative lives, use this website.
After the Swedish Embassy appointment
The SMA will contact you if they need more information or documents. They will contact you over email with instructions. You will receive an email when the SMA makes a final decision on your case.
If the SMA grants the application, the applicant will need to contact the Embassy or Consulate to collect their residence permit. The SMA will give you instructions in the decision letter.
If the SMA rejects the application, the decision can be appealed. You must appeal within 3 weeks of receiving the decision. The SMA will put information on how to appeal in the decision letter.
Asking for help
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. Here are a few resources:
- Parent in Sweden applying for a residence permit for a child outside of Sweden
- Spouse in Sweden applying for a residence permit for spouse outside of Sweden
- Residence permit for a parent of an unaccompanied child in Sweden