Sophie gave birth to her son in a hospital in Göteborg, Sweden, in 2016 | Photo: Pixabay
Sophie gave birth to her son in a hospital in Göteborg, Sweden, in 2016 | Photo: Pixabay

Sophie* is from a West African country and arrived in Sweden in 2015. The following year, she gave birth to a baby boy in a Swedish hospital. Since then she has been fighting for her child to be documented as having been born on Swedish soil.

"I arrived in Sweden in 2015. I left my country because I had serious family problems. I decided to go to Sweden because I knew someone here and I thought they could help me get asylum. I filed my first asylum application in 2015, and in 2016, my son was born. After four months, my asylum application was rejected.

I’ve appealed the decision twice but lost both times. At the start of 2020, I filed a new application for asylum with a new lawyer – I was able to do so because I had been in the country for more than four years.

During these four years, I haven’t been able to get documents for my son. His father is also from West Africa but he’s been living in Sweden for a long time. He’s a bus driver. He is eligible for residency and has applied for a residency permit. But because I don’t live with him, my son can’t benefit from his father’s residency rights. Hundreds of women are in the same situation as me here.

Actually, even if we lived together, it wouldn’t change anything. The migration authority wants us to have our son’s documents done in another country. They don’t recognize the fact that he was born here. They say that he has to take his mother’s nationality. On all the documents related to my son, they have written “born in [the country Sophie comes from and does not want to disclose, eds note]” even though he was born here, at Östra Sjukhuset in Göteborg. Despite us having given them all the documents that show that my son was born in a Swedish hospital.

We’ve tried to ask for help, but the problem is that the lawyers don’t even get back to us. They’re unreachable […] They are court-appointed lawyers who are paid by the state whether they win or not, so I don’t think they get involved much.

Today, I’m still living here undocumented. I can work but it’s not easy to find a job because of the language barrier. And it’s not easy to focus on learning a language when you have a lot of problems to deal with.

As an asylum seeker I get an allowance of 2,000 crowns (€200) a month for food.

The migration office rejected my son’s father’s residence permit application [for the child] without even meeting with him. They rejected it because they don’t consider that he has any links with his son, but they didn’t even ask us about it. They just said that because we don’t live together. My son goes to kindergarten so he sees his father during his school holidays.

But on the Swedish migration authority’s website it says that children who are born to a Swedish parent or to a naturalized Swedish citizen are eligible for Swedish nationality. If the father has a residency permit, the child can get it too. But, in reality, if you don’t have any particular problems and you’re healthy, they will always tell you to apply for residency in another country."

*Name changed to protect identity