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Government presents new labour immigration rules

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18:05 CEST+02:00
Starting December 15th, 2008, it will be easier for non-EU citizens to come to Sweden to work, according to a new proposal put forward by the government on Monday.

The need for additional labour in Sweden is increasing, which has led the government to propose new rules governing labour migration.

The proposal also has the support of the Green Party.

The new rules stipulate that control of deciding whether if there is a need to recruit foreign workers be taken away from the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) and handed over to individual employers.

The basic conditions for being granted a work permit include an offer for a job which pays enough to support oneself. In addition, the terms of employment must be equal to or better than those set out in Swedish collective bargaining agreements or what passes for standard practice in a particular industry.

Citizens from the EU, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland are also to be given preference for open positions.

Under the new rules, immigrants will also be able to receive an extended work permit after two years if they are still employed. And after four years, they can qualify for a permanent residency permit.

In normal cases, work permit applications are to be filed in an immigrant's home country, but job seekers can also receive a visa to attend an employment interview and then apply for a permit while in Sweden without having to first return home.

According to the proposal, asylum seekers who have their applications rejected, but have managed to establish themselves in Swedish labour market would be allowed to switch tracks and apply for a work permit instead.

The Social Democrats are critical of the proposal to allow asylum seekers to “switch tracks” because they feel it will mix up grounds for asylum with labour immigration. In addition, they see a risk that questionable employers may use the new law to employee cheap labour.

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