Quantifying the Irregular Immigrant Population
To quantify the extent of irregular migration to Sweden is a difficult task. An inquiry committee that was tasked by the government in 2010 to present proposals on how to regulate access to health care and medical services for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants estimated that there were between 10,000 and 35,000 migrants staying in Sweden without valid residence permits or visas.
In general, it can be assumed, however, that the number of irregular migrants in Sweden is smaller than in central or south European countries. This is attributable to the fact that Swedish society leaves little room for irregular stays.
In 2005, Parliament reformed Swedish asylum law; thereby bringing Sweden in line with EU asylum legislation that had entered into force in previous years. In this context, a measure was introduced for regularizing rejected asylum seekers and people living in Sweden for some years under a deportation order that had not yet been carried out. Those concerned were given the right to submit a new application for asylum by March 2006. The Migration Board was required to apply particularly flexible criteria when assessing these follow-up applications. According to the Migration Agency, about 30,000 applications were submitted, of which just 60 percent were approved. The approval right was as high as 96 percent for applicants from countries to which it was impossible to carry out deportations.
Access to Health Care and Education
Access for irregular migrants to health care and education for undocumented children have been important topics of discussion in Sweden. As equal access to social services is an important issue, as are children's’ rights, a new law entered into force in Sweden in July 2013, giving irregular migrants access to basic health care on the same terms as registered asylum seekers. At the same point in time, it was also clarified by law that children without legal residence in Sweden have the same right to education as legal residents. Both issues were previously not legally regulated.
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