The Swedish Migration Agency has lowered its forecast for the number of migrants it expects to apply for asylum in 2023 and 2024, the government agency wrote in a press release published on Monday, February 6th.
“In recent years, we have seen that an ever-lower proportion of asylum seekers in Europe are applying to Sweden. We are therefore adjusting down the forecasts for 2023 and beyond,” said Annika Gottberg, the director of planning at the Swedish Migration Agency.
The government agency projects that approximately 16,000 people will seek asylum in Sweden in 2023 and 2024, which compared to the prior forecast, represents 2,000 and 3,000 fewer asylum seekers than had been expected for the years 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Addressing the figures, future projections, and the factors involved, Mikael Ribbenvik, the director general of the Swedish Migration Agency, said:
This is a lower figure than before the pandemic. Many factors are at play, such as the fact that it is more difficult to travel, Sweden is further away, the image of Sweden has changed, and new legislation. And when new legislation is introduced in the future, we will probably have reason to change the forecasts again—also downwards and not upwards.
The number of Ukrainian refugees seeking protection in Sweden is also declining compared to last year, Ribbenvik said. Approximately 50,600 Ukrainian refugees sought protection in Sweden in 2022.
The news comes as asylum applications submitted across the European Union’s 27 member states in 2022 climbed to nearly one million, the highest number recorded since the European migrant crisis of 2015. Roughly 1.5% of that figure, around 14,800 people, applied for asylum in Sweden. The previous year, 2% of asylum seekers in Europe submitted applications in Sweden, and the year before that it was 3%, Gottberg said, the Stockholm-based daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvT) reported.
Last year, of those who applied for asylum in Sweden, not counting Ukrainian refugees, some 9,600, or 65%, had only just recently entered the country. The remaining applicants had been in Sweden for a longer period of time, and according to the agency’s press release, likely had had a prior asylum application denied so long ago that the statute of limitations on the decision had run out.
Despite the expected drop in the number of asylum seekers in the immediate years ahead, the Swedish Migration Agency expects an uptick in the number of applications for citizenship in the years 2023 to 2025. This year, some 80,000 applications for citizenship are expected to be submitted, and in 2024 just over 70,000.
“Looking at the outcome in 2022, there is a certain general increase which could be due to more people than before who have long had permanent residence permits applying for Swedish citizenship. We will follow how this develops,” Gottberg said, commenting on the trend.
The migration agency’s press release comes two weeks after Sweden’s center-right government launched an international information campaign that seeks to inform would-be migrants and asylum seekers of the government’s desire and intention to reduce the influx of newcomers into the country, as The European Conservative previously reported.