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The case concerns the interplay between three legal acts in Sweden: the Law on Reception of Asylum Seekers and Others (LMA, 1994:137), the Residence Act (2016:38), which is for beneficiaries of a form of protection in Sweden and the Temporary Act (2016:752), which notes that the Residence Act does not apply to persons who were granted a residence permit for secondary level studies.
AA applied for a residence permit in Sweden as a beneficiary of protection, stayed in an accommodation centre and received assistance under the LMA. In January 2020, he was granted a temporary residence permit for the purpose of studying at secondary level. The Migration Board decided that AA was no longer entitled to assistance under the LMA, taking the view that a third country national who is staying in an accommodation centre when a residence permit is granted is entitled to continued assistance under the law only if he/she is covered by the Residence Act. For this to be the case, he/she would have to be designated or able to use a designated place in a municipality. In addition, the Temporary Act notes that a group to which the Residence Act does not apply is those who have been granted a residence permit for studies at secondary level.
AA appealed against the decision before the Administrative Court of Gothenburg, which annulled it on 19 March 2020 and declared that he was entitled to continued assistance under the law. The Administrative Court held that the LMA does not provide as a precondition for the right to continued assistance the fact that the foreign national must be covered by the Residence Act. The LMA merely states that the foreign national was not designated or able to use a designated place in a municipality. AA has not been assigned the place, which is why he continues to be entitled to assistance under the LMA.
The Migration Agency appealed before the Administrative Court of Appeal of Gothenburg, which rejected the complaint, stating that the LMA applies irrespective of whether the foreign national is covered by the Residence Act.
The Migration Agency further appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court, which dismissed the action. It noted that the question raised by the case is whether a foreign national staying in accommodation centres, who cannot be assigned to a municipality, is entitled to assistance under the LMA even after a residence permit has been granted.
The court observed that the Residence Act introduced an obligation for a municipality to accept, upon instruction, certain newly arrived immigrants for residence in the municipality. However, according to Section 2, the Act does not apply to all new arrivals, but only to those who have been granted a residence permit under certain specific provisions of the Aliens Act. The court noted that it is difficult to interpret the text differently from the interpretation provided by the district courts, i.e. that a beneficiary of international protection must be provided with accommodation irrespective of whether he/she is covered by the Residence Act. There is no statement in the travaux préparatoires for the LMA to support a different interpretation. Nor does the fact that the relevant legislation is based on the idea of social integration of aliens who are granted a residence permit support a different interpretation. The Residence Act does not apply to those who have been granted a residence permit for the purpose of studying at secondary level, as was the case of AA, nor was he assigned a place in any one of the municipalities. He was therefore entitled to assistance under the LMA even after he had been granted a residence permit. The appeal was therefore dismissed.
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