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WORKING IN SWEDEN

Sweden approves legislation to tighten up work permit rules

Sweden's parliament has approved a new work permit law which will make it more difficult for some non-EU citizens to be granted a Swedish work permit.

Sweden approves legislation to tighten up work permit rules
File photo of the Swedish Migration Agency's national service centre in Sundbyberg. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

However, the new package of labour immigration laws also contains some laws which could make it easier for certain immigrants to apply for a work permit in the country.

A new kind of residence permit, also referred to as a “talent visa” will be introduced for certain highly-qualified, highly-educated individuals.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Rasmus Ling, migration spokesperson for the Green Party.

At the same time, so-called talent deportations have been targeted in the new law, which politicians hope will lead to a decrease in the number of immigrants being deported for minor errors in their work permit paperwork.

“Talent deportations have been a problem for many years. It’s good that we, once and for all, from the 1st of June, will now have legislation in place,” Jonny Cato, migration spokesperson for the Centre Party told newswire TT.

The old legislation was from 2008. A central aspect of the new law package is the new requirement that applicants must have a signed job contract before they can receive a work permit. Previously, a job offer was enough to secure a permit.

However, some parties want the laws to be stricter, such as the Moderates, who want a salary requirement of at least 85 percent of Sweden’s average monthly salary – a limit of around 27,500 kronor a month, seasonal workers excluded.

“Why should you come from the other side of the world and work as a cleaner in Sweden for 13,000 kronor a month?” said Maria Malmer Stenergard, migration spokesperson for the Moderates.

The Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats also want to remove the spårbyte (track change), which currently allows asylum seekers to apply for a work permit if their application for asylum is rejected. The parties also want to stop or limit labour immigration for jobs in personal assistance, as they believe that this branch has a widespread problem with work permit fraud.

The Social Democrats are open to removing the ‘track change’, with Social Democrat MP Carina Ohlsson stating that these laws were “a first step” and that the party would be considering further measures in the future.

Stenergard promised that the Moderates would tighten work permit rules further if they were to win September’s election. 

“We will take action to stop fraud, stop the ‘track change’, stop labour immigration for personal assistance, and we will introduce a higher wage requirement,” she said.

The new law will come into force on June 1st.

Member comments

  1. “Why should you come from the other side of the world and work as a cleaner in Sweden for 13,000 kronor a month?”
    A: Because there the salary is below 3000 kronor. The people lives in Favela, bad health care, drug dealers teaching kids of 10 years old to shoot. It is much better to receive 13.000 kronor in Sweden that live in this condition. If receive 13.000 kronor can help to bring more poor people from outside to have a better life, why not?

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For members

IMMIGRATION

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

Moving to another country is never easy, as it requires going through cultural changes and administrative formalities. It can be even more complicated when looking for a job.

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

According to new data released by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, the knowledge of the national language and the recognition of professional qualifications are the two most common obstacles experienced by foreign-born people in finding a ‘suitable’ job in countries of the European Union.

Overall, about a quarter of people born outside the EU who had experience in working or looking for work in the bloc reported some difficulties getting a ‘suitable’ job for level of education (without considering the field of expertise or previous experience).

The Eurostat analysis shows that the situation is better for EU citizens moving within the bloc. But there are major differences depending on countries and gender.

Life can be more difficult for women

In 2021, 13.2 percent of men and 20.3 percent of women born in another European Union country reported obstacles in getting a suitable job in the EU place of residence.

These proportions however increase to 20.9 percent for men and 27.3 percent for women born in a non-EU country with a high level of development (based on the United Nations’ Human Development Index) and 31.1 percent for men and 35.7 percent for women from non-EU countries with a low or medium level of development.

Finland (42.9 percent), Sweden (41.7 percent), Luxembourg (34.6 percent) and France (32.1 percent) are the countries with the highest shares of people born outside the EU reporting problems. Norway, which is not part of the bloc, has an even higher percentage, 45.2, and Switzerland 34.3 percent.

In contrast, Cyprus (11.2 percent), Malta (10.9 percent), Slovenia (10.2 percent), Latvia (10 percent) and Lithuania (6.7 percent) have the lowest proportion of people born outside the EU reporting difficulties.

Lack of language skills

The lack of skills in the national language is most commonly cited as a hurdle, and it is even more problematic for women.

This issue was reported by 4.2 percent of men born in another EU country, 5.3 percent of those born in a developed country outside the EU and 9.7 percent of those from a non-EU country with a middle or low level of development. The corresponding shares for women, however, were 5.6, 6.7 and 10.5 percent respectively.

The countries where language skills were more likely to be reported by non-EU citizens as an obstacle in getting a relevant job were Finland (22.8 percent), Luxembourg (14.7 percent) and Sweden (13.1 percent).

As regards other countries covered by The Local, the percentage of non-EU citizens citing the language as a problem was 12.4 percent in Austria, 10.2 percent in Denmark, 7.8 percent in France, 5.1 percent in Italy, 2.7 percent in Spain, 11.1 percent on Norway and 10.1 percent in Switzerland. Data is not available for Germany.

Portugal (77.4 percent), Croatia (68.8 percent), Hungary (58.8 percent) and Spain (58.4 percent) have the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving, while more than 70 percent of non-EU citizens residing in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Norway said they had participated in language courses after arrival.

Lisbon Portugal

Portugal has the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving. (Photo by Aayush Gupta on Unsplash)

Recognition of qualifications

Another hurdle on the way to a relevant job in EU countries is the lack of recognition of a formal qualification obtained abroad. This issue was reported by 2 percent of men and 3.8 percent of women born in another EU country. It was also mentioned by 3.3 percent of men and 5.9 percent of women born in a developed country outside the EU, and 4.8 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Eurostat says this reflects an “unofficial distrust” among employers of qualification obtained abroad and the “low official validation of foreign education”.

The lack of availability of a suitable job was another factor mentioned in the survey. In Croatia, Portugal and Hungary, this was the main obstacle to getting an adequate position.

This issue concerned 3.3 percent of men and 4.5 percent of women born in another EU country, 4.2 percent of men and 5 percent of women born in a developed non-EU country It also worried 3.9 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Restricted right to work due to citizenship or residence permits, as well as plain discrimination on the grounds of origin were also cited as problems.

Discrimination was mostly reported by people born in a less developed non-EU country (3.1 percent for men and 3.3 percent for women) compared to people born in highly developed non-EU countries (1.9 percent for men and 2.2 percent for women).

Citizenship and residence permits issues are unusual for people from within the EU. For people from outside the EU, this is the only area where women seem to have fewer problems than men: 1.6 percent of women from developed non-EU countries reported this issue, against 2.1 percent of men, with the share increasing to 2.8 and 3.3 percent respectively for women and men from less developed non-EU states.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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