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IMMIGRATION

Norway suspends deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan 

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and Immigration Appeal Board (UNE) said on Wednesday it would stop forced returns to Afghanistan due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Norway suspends deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan 
The UDI and UNE has suspended deportations to Afghanistan. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

The UDI and UNE will not enforce any returns for individuals to Afghanistan due to the escalation of conflict between the Taliban and Afghan authorities, which the UDI said in a statement has led to a deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation. 

The withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan has led to intense fighting between the Taliban and government forces in the country. 

The deportations will be suspended until September 15th, 2021. 

This means those who have received a final decision on asylum claims or residence applications and have been told they will need to return to Afghanistan will not be obliged to do so until the suspension is lifted. 

The rules will apply to anyone who

  • Has had their application for asylum rejected
  • The decision has been made to deport them from Norway
  • Had had their residence permit revoked
  • Is living in Norway but have had their application for a residence permit rejected

The decision to postpone the deportations has been pushed back until September 15th because all foreign military and peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan will withdraw from the country by the end of August. 

READ ALSO: How did Covid-19 affect immigration in Norway in 2020?

This will give the UDI and UNE time to reassess the situation and whether the suspension should be extended further or lifted, the agencies said. 

People whose cases are covered by the Dublin III convention or the First Asylum Rule will not be covered by the suspension. This means they will be returned to the first European country in which they sought protection. 

The UNE said it did not have figures for the total number of Afghan citizens who are due to be returned to Afghanistan. 

The Police Immigration Unit has said it is aware of the new rules so that no people who fall under the suspension will be forcibly returned to the country. 

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

In Sweden, a sambo is domestic partner – someone you’re in a relationship with and live with, but to whom you aren’t married. If you, as a non-EU citizen, are in a sambo relationship with a Swedish citizen, you can apply for a residence permit on the basis of that relationship. But meeting the requirements of that permit is not always straightforward.

Reader question: How do you meet the requirements for a sambo visa?

An American reader, whose son lives with his Swedish partner, wrote to The Local with questions about the maintenance requirement her son and his partner must meet in order to qualify for a sambo resident permit.

“Their specific issue is that they meet the requirements for a stable relationship and stable housing, but have been told that qualifying for a sambo visa based on savings is unlikely,” she wrote, asking for suggestions on how to approach this issue. Her son’s partner is a student with no income, but whose savings meet maintenance requirements. But, they have been told by lawyers that Migrationsverket will likely deny the application based on the absence of the Swedish partner’s income.

How do relationships qualify for sambo status?

In order to apply for a residence permit on the basis of a sambo relationship, you and your partner must either be living together, or plan to live together as soon as the non-Swedish partner can come to Sweden. Because this reader’s son is already in Sweden as a graduate student, he can apply for a sambo permit without having to leave the country, provided that his student permit is still valid at the time the new application is submitted.

The Migration Agency notes that “you can not receive a residence permit for the reason that you want to live with a family member in Sweden before your current permit expires”. So once your valid permit is close to expiration, you can apply for a new sambo permit.

What are the maintenance requirements for a sambo permit?

The maintenance requirements for someone applying for a sambo permit fall on the Swedish partner, who must prove that they are able to support both themselves and their partner for the duration of the permit. This includes both housing and financial requirements.

In terms of residential standards that applicants must meet, they must show that they live in a home of adequate size – for two adult applicants without children, that means at least one room with a kitchen. If rented, the lease must be for at least one year.

The financial requirements are more complicated. The Swedish partner must be able to document a stable income that can support the applicant and themselves – for a sambo couple, the 2022 standard is an income of 8,520 kronor per month. This burden falls on the Swedish partner.

While the Migration Agency’s website does say that you may “fulfil the maintenance requirement (be considered able to support yourself) if you have enough money/taxable assets to support yourself, other persons in your household and the family members who are applying for a residence permit for at least two years”, it is unclear how proof of this would be documented. On a separate page detailing the various documents that can be used to prove that maintenance requirements are met, there is nothing about how to document savings that will be used to support the couple.

Can you apply on the basis of savings instead of income?

Well, this is unclear. The Migration Agency’s website does suggest that having enough money saved up to support both members of the sambo relationship is an option, but it gives no details on how to document this. It is also unclear whether applying on the basis of savings will disadvantage applicants, with preference given to applicants who can show proof of income from work.

The Local has reached out to an immigration lawyer to answer this question. 

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