More than 100 tech workers told to leave Sweden since January 2016

More than 100 tech workers told to leave Sweden since January 2016
The government wants to make the rules more flexible. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
More than one hundred tech workers have had their request to stay in Sweden denied since the start of last year, according to figures by the Migration Agency.

Between early January and July 13th, 56 people working in the IT and tech industry had their application to renew their residence permit rejected, according to Migration Agency statistics reported by newspaper SvD, more than over the whole of last year when 53 got a negative reply to their renewal application.

So far this year, 1,100 have been granted a renewed residence permit, compared to 1,981 in 2016.

Deportations of highly skilled workers, particularly in the tech industry, have sparked heated debate in Sweden in the past year – partly because it is an industry where the Nordic country is fighting to plug a skills gap in the labour market and partly because of the seemingly unfair nature of the deportations.

READ ALSO: Spotify slams 'ridiculous' deportation threat faced by staff in Sweden

Today's strict rules, which are being changed, are designed to prevent employers from exploiting migrant workers by giving them poorer working conditions than promised.

However, there have been several high-profile cases in the last year of workers being handed deportation decisions over what appears to be mere administrative errors, which are often only detected when someone applies for a work permit extension and the Migration Agency looks into their records.

One example is Tayyab Shabab, a developer described as a “world class talent” who, despite having a steady job, had an application for a work permit extension rejected because the Migration Agency discovered a previous employer forgot to take out occupational pension insurance for him.

As The Local has previously reported, the government has proposed making the rules more flexible by allowing employers to fix minor and unintentional mistakes retroactively without the employee being punished. That law change is expected to come into force from December 2017.