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Black market in Swedish work permits 'booming'

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10:37 CET+01:00
Non-Europeans hoping to come to Sweden to work often pay ten thousands of kronor to come to the country, in what is believed to be a widespread illegal trade with work permits.

According to Sveriges Radio (SR) the illegal trade in Swedish work permits today is booming.

Those who want to come to Sweden to work pay up to 100,000 kronor ($14,729) for travel expenses and a valid work permit.

The money is then shared by recruiters, Swedish employers and legal firms, handling the applications.

One lawyer claimed to have been approached by at least ten or fifteen people who said they had been promised work permits but never received them.

The money, they said, had gone to the lawyer's superiors.

"In most cases they said they'd paid 50,000 or even 100,000 kronor,” the lawyer, told SR.

And most of the jobs only exists on paper. Those who have been granted a work permit will show up in the books of a company, without ever actually working there.

However, in order for the tax authorities not to notice anything untoward, the person is forced to pay their alleged employers their tax out of their own pocket.

In order to be able to do that they have to find work somewhere else, often cash-in-hand.

Alejandro Firpo at the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), said that the agency is aware of this practice and is working closely with police to try to combat it.

“What makes it extra hard is that when people are ready to pay instead of being paid, they are also willing to pay these fees for the tax agency. So when the police or someone else tip us off, we conduct checks. And these look good. It looks as if the person has been working and paid tax to the tax agency. Which leaves authorities like us quite unable to do anything,“ Firpo told SR.

The rules were changed in 2008, making it possible for non-European citizens to get a temporary work and residence permit in Sweden, if they can show that they have secured a job within the country.

If one works in Sweden for four years, that person is then eligible for a permanent residence permit.

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