Sweden proposes new rules for work permit holders

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Sweden proposes new rules for work permit holders
A Migration Agency office in Sweden. Photo: Adam Wrafter/SvD/TT

New rules for work permit holders in Sweden could come into force as early as the turn of the year, said Justice Minister Morgan Johansson as the proposals were presented.


A government inquiry on Tuesday presented the first of two reports into proposals to tighten Sweden's rules on labour migration, to crack down on so-called 'talent deportation' and on dishonest employers abusing the system.

The report proposes making it compulsory for work permit holders who want to bring their family to Sweden to prove that they can financially support them – what is usually referred to as the 'maintenance requirement'.

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said that this was a "substantial sharpening" of current rules.

The main applicant would however only need to prove that their salary is high enough to support themselves and their family, not that their home is large enough. The report argues that a housing requirement would make it difficult for big cities – where housing is expensive and hard to come by – to attract international talent.


The report also suggests introducing a talent visa, which would allow foreigners with a postgraduate degree to get a nine-month visa to come to Sweden and look for work – rather than finding a job and applying from abroad.

The government wants to crack down on dishonest employers, who don't live up to what the work permit holder was promised when they agreed to come to Sweden. The second report, due in November, is expected to present more in-depth analysis on the extent of the problem of employers abusing the work permit system.

But another issue affects work permit holders who get deported due to minor administrative mistakes by their employer or themselves – for example not taking enough holidays, and then getting their permit renewal rejected.

While the problem, which has become known as talent deportation, is not as extensive as a few years ago, it still affects many people's lives. The inquiry states that "minor cases" of errors should not lead to deportation, as long as the difference is not substantial and there is a "reasonable" explanation, and that the Migration Agency should make an overall assessment as to how the permit holder's contract compares to industry practice.

The report also proposes removing the time limit on how many times a work permit holder is allowed to apply for a new temporary permit before they have to instead apply to have it turned into a permanent residence permit.


It also proposes that Sweden's Migration Agency should carry out checks of the terms of employment for employers of work permit holders. Employers would be obligated to report any deterioration in these terms, and would be subject to a fine or even imprisonment if they failed to report these changes. The inquiry also suggests a possible alternative of requiring an employment contract in order to have a work permit application granted.

The aim is to crack down on dishonest employers who change the conditions for their foreign workers after their work permit is approved. At the moment, when this happens it sometimes means that future applications for a work permit extension by the employee are rejected – even if they are no longer employed by the company that made the mistake or broke the rules.

The proposals will now be sent out to various agencies and organisations for feedback. After the consultation period and any edits to the proposals as a result, the next stage is to put the final version of proposals to a parliamentary vote.

Johansson said this would happen "as soon as possible" and that the proposed date for the changes to come into effect was January 1st, 2022.

The Local explains the proposals in more depth in this article.


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