• Sweden edition
 

Manpower shortage leads to work permit delays

Published: 08 Jun 2011 10:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jun 2011 10:45 GMT+02:00

Many Swedish companies are in need of foreign workers and the interest in working in Sweden is great, but the agency that deal with issuing their work permits, the Migration Board (Migrationsverket), has been struggling to keep up with the demand.

According to Alejandro Firpo, who headed the agency's work permit unit until his recent promotion, the agency was over-staffed when it was launched in 2008 following the introduction of new labour migration rules.

“We had expected more applications but because of the financial crisis that followed we didn’t receive as many as we had estimated,“ Firpo told The Local.

However, as the financial climate stabilised, the agency started receiving an increasing number of applications.

By 2010, however, the Migration Board was hit by an “explosive” rise in applications.

“It seems that more people found out about the law and we simply couldn’t keep up with the demand,” Firpo said.

The new rules from 2008 stipulated that individual employers rather than the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) decide whether there is a need to recruit foreign workers.

Under the new rules, immigrants are also able to receive an extended work permit for a maximum of four years, after which they can qualify for a permanent residence permit.

But delays in the processing times are causing grumbles among companies that need their staff faster than permits can be issued.

Sadek Yildic runs a recruitment agency supplying staff to catering companies specialising in foreign delicacies.

“We currently have 22 workers that have applied for a permit but are waiting for an answer. We are losing customers, time is ticking away and time is money,“ Yildic told news agency TT.

His lawyer Jan Axelsson, who has handled applications from more than 40 people from outside the EU, is also critical of the system.

“It’s completely useless. Imagine being offered a job and find yourself forced to tell your prospective employer: ‘Yes, I’ll be there. In 6 months’,” he said to TT.

But according to Firpo the delays are a thing of the past, the agency is managing to meet their targets despite a continuing increase in applications.

“Since last year we have a 40 percent rise in applications, but as it is looking right now we are getting more and more efficient,” he said.

Since 2010, the agency has both reshuffled their exiting resources and hired more officers to deal with work permits.

Firpo understands that companies need their workers fast but pointed out that delays often are due to incomplete applications rather than agency inefficiency.

When news agency TT told Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, he expressed concerns about the lengthy processing times for Swedish work permits.

“Of course we hoped that this wouldn’t happen. We want this to be a non-bureaucratic and efficient system and we tend to recommend electronic applications,” he told TT.

Reinfeldt also pointed out that despite delays, he is of the opinion that the system is working well and that several thousand foreign workers so far have arrived in Sweden.

And according to Firpo it is the paper applications that take a long time to process.

“If it drags out, there is generally a good reason,” Firpo said.

A paper application has to be handled by the Swedish embassy in a given country before it reaches the Migration Board, a process which in itself can take several months.

If the application turns out to be incomplete, officers have to start tracking down the right people, as the board can’t approve an application without all the relevant information.

“But when it comes down to electronic applications we are back on track – it is a question of days and weeks from when an application is received to when the permit is issued,“ Firpo told The Local.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

13:40 June 8, 2011 by swedejane
Typical swedish bureaucracy...with all due respect. I've gone through the Kafka-esque swedish paper maze many times, and am always astounded at the complete absence of rational and logical thought I can come up against. It seriously makes most of the US processes look downright efficient and 21st century, which is a real feat. And may god have mercy on you if you don't have an effing personal number...you know, because you're not from here and their own migration rules state you can't be issued a personal number unless you have a 1 year visa to be here. But of course, try getting a 1 year visa without a job and a 100,000sek in the bank. It amazes me that in a country that thinks of itself as so modern, they see no problem with their heavily dependent paper form system. Weird.
14:13 June 8, 2011 by Syftfel
Funny. There is shortage of manpower to issue work visas to needed qualified workers. There appears to be no such shortage in the Asylum Division, or the Family Reunification Division.
14:50 June 8, 2011 by crocadoodledoo
I do not understand swedish bureaucracy, especially when the employer is a swedish company or a university..i am an international phd student employed by KTH. PhD is normally a 5 year programme as we are expected to teach as well. Why cant these migrationsverket ppl issue university employed phd students a residence permit for 4 years to start with ?!.. Students like me have to get their residence permit renewed every year. That itself is a pain in the a$$. To add to the misery, they now take 4 months to process your visa (which is only granted for 1 year at a time). And they dont process it before your visa ends, so you are stuck here in sweden (often overstaying your visa for atleast a couple of months) and cant even make plans to go home/outside sweden lest you cant come back to work in case your current visa ends before your return date. The whole residence permit extrension process is harrowing, inhuman and completely unnecessary.
16:35 June 8, 2011 by johnny1939
It is indeed a scandal. Here we are w/ people ready and willing to work and nobody w/ any sense to help them to do so quickly. As a Swede I cannot understand what the hell is going on?? Maybe to many coffee breaks or time off for whatever? I have also heard that immigrants that are ready and willing to work and get ahead are not allowed to do so for strange and complicated reasons. This is not something new this has been going on as long as I can remember. It is a joke if it was not such a serious matter. Shape up people!!!
18:32 June 8, 2011 by teknowaffle
Here is a new one for people applying for residence permits. (I am an American btw with a Swedish wife)

I applied for my 2 year residence permit to move to Sweden in January.

Recently, (May 20th) the EU required a switchover to biometric cards that contain a chip with photo and fingerprints. My decision was made a couple of business days after to grant me permanent residence, but they hadn't taken my finger prints. I figure, no problem, get them done at the consulate in nearby San Francisco, or a local police station, and send them in.

Nope, I would have to fly out to the Embassy in Washington D.C to get them done, as will apparently any person applying to get a residence permit.

I suppose it will cut down on the number of applications.
19:56 June 8, 2011 by Iraniboy
I think waiting for 6 months for a job permit in unreasonable. But now that less non-EU students come to Sweden they can allocate staff to Work Permit units instead, so what's the problem?
21:10 June 8, 2011 by kenny8076
My visa expires on the 12th of this month. Me and my girlfriend mailed everything in about 2 months ago..... hadnt heard ANYTHING from anyone, so my girlfriend called a couple days ago and they said it would be a few weeks.... they are "flooded".... lol Swedes kill me when it comes to work..... Flooded?! baahahaha.... that's all i did was laugh when my girl told me that......
02:06 June 9, 2011 by ronneby
Absolutely Swedish bureaucracy. I had to wait for atleast 4 months because the case officer has requested for additional documents a day before her summer vacation for two months, and when i submitted, no one else at the migrationverket are allowed to take up the case, since it was already taken by some one.

And the head of Workpermit department replied "I understand everything, but unfortunately, it is the system and all you can do now is to wait!!!"
16:20 June 9, 2011 by gorgepir
Maybe if the idiots at Migrationsverket would not require me to extend my phd visa every year (which can only be done one month before and takes 4 months) they would have more time to do other stuff.

Talk about incompetence.
16:40 June 10, 2011 by Mark S.
Maybe the Migration Board should hire some foreign workers to help out.

The only way it can take several months to process the paperwork is if nobody is working on it. Yes, sometimes nobody is working on it because they are waiting for information from some other source, but a little transparency into the process would at least help the potential immigrants understand.

For example, what exactly is the embassy doing with the application for "several months"? Are they sending private investigators out to check the veracity of your statements? Or is it just sitting in a drawer because they only work on the papers 1 day a month?
12:59 June 15, 2011 by astra2thor6
Unemployment has risen to its highest level for a decade. Unemployment amongst "invandrare" is significantly higher than for Swedish born. Why cannot the currently unemployed be used to fill these empty vacancies?

In many countries in which I've lived diplomas, certificates, and even degrees can be purchased without education. Do those prospective employers verify the authenticity of foreign would-be employees?

Re "teknowaffle" comments above, "Have you ever applied to become an American citiizen (with an American wife)?" Now there's real bureaucracy at work!
Today's headlines
'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Erik the Holy's skull and the crown, believed to be Sweden's oldest. Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

King Erik the Holy died 854 years ago, but scientists have just unveiled his skull at Uppsala Cathedral. READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

Swedish girls report more eating problems
Teen girls. File photo: Chloe Chaplin/Flickr

Swedish girls report more eating problems

A youth wellbeing report from Save the Children found that more teenage girls than in previous surveys reported having an eating disorder. READ () »

'Zlatan will be back for finals': PSG coach
Photo: AP

'Zlatan will be back for finals': PSG coach

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc said on Tuesday that he believed Swedish goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play again before the end of the season. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Advertisement:
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com