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Gaming industry decries work permit wait times

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Gaming industry decries work permit wait times
08:16 CEST+02:00
The long wait for Swedish work permits facing talented computer programmers from other countries has prompted the Swedish games industry to put pressure on the government to cut processing times.

In a letter to integration minister Erik Ullenhag, a representative from the Swedish Games Industry (Dataspelbranschen) warns that its member companies may lose their cutting edge due to work permit processing times which can average more than six months.

"The long processing times result in games companies losing out on people they'd like to employ," writes the industry association's spokesperson Per Strömbäck.

"The games industry finds itself facing tough international competition; should bureaucracy stand in the way of our ability to compete on better terms?"

Strömbäck points out that Swedish trade minister Ewa Björling considers computer games one of Sweden's "largest cultural exports" and that explosive growth has meant that companies must look outside of Sweden for talented programmers and graphic designers.

But the lengthy process of putting potential recruits' paperwork in order turns many off from moving to Sweden.

"Six months is an unreasonably long time to wait to move to a new country," Strömbäck writes.

He explains further that a new certification system introduced by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) to streamline the recruitment of foreign workers requires companies to hire at least 25 workers per year from other countries, which means many game producers can't take advantage of it.

As an alternative, Strömbäck proposes allowing the industry association to be certified.

"Of course, the best thing would be to reduce the processing time for work permits," he concluded.

David Landes

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