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Swedish work permit rules 'misused': minister

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Swedish work permit rules 'misused': minister
11:39 CEST+02:00
The Swedish law on labour migration is being used as a means to access other EU labour markets with hundreds of migrants recently travelling onwards within the Schengen area without even passing customs at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.

Some 200 Bangladeshi migrants have recently arrived in Sweden, holding work permits from a Swedish firm to enable them to work as berry pickers but they never worked in the country, and instead flew straight out of Arlanda Airport, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

“The government's position is clear - it is absolutely intolerable if the rules are being misused,” Migration minister Tobias Billström told The Local on Monday.

Billström observed that while “we can discuss how well the control system works”, he pointed out that the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) is responsible for the assessment of visa applications and that in this case the applications were in fact revoked.

“The Migration Board is in constant contact with the border police,” he said as part of the agency's responsibility for tackling the problem of bogus contracts.

Almost since its introduction in 2008 the law allowing for labour migration has come under criticism with some arguing that it has allowed for a new major area of human trafficking.

Detective inspector Per Englund, who is tasked with investigating human trafficking at the Sweden's National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen), told SvD that the law was being exploited.

“There is a gap in the law. If you travel into Sweden with a valid permit, a valid paper, then it is not considered human trafficking,” he said.

Border police at the airport confirmed the situation to the newspaper and explained that there is little they can do when the migrants arrive with valid work permits.

The firm which submitted the applications for the work permits is a Swedish registered subsidiary of a Finnish recruitment company and according to the newspaper the Bangladeshis have paid significant sums to the firm for their visas.

Tobias Billström told The Local that the government is satisfied that existing legislation is sufficient with regards to both human smuggling and labour migration.

“Human trafficking is already regulated within the Aliens Act. One has to be clear that the present rules are working as intended,” he said.

“The law is not being used, it is being misused. There is a clear difference,” he said.

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