Sweden’s opposition leader wants to raise salary threshold for work permit applicants

Sweden's opposition leader wants to raise salary threshold for work permit applicants
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson wants fewer people moving to Sweden to do jobs he thinks Swedes could do. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
Sweden's Moderate Party has said it wants to introduce a minimum salary requirement for those who move to Sweden for work from outside the EU.

The conservative party, which is Sweden's de facto leader of the opposition, put forward its own proposals ahead of a scheduled announcement from the government on Tuesday, in which it will present the results of an inquiry into what future rules for work permit holders should look like.

The Moderates said that a 31,700 kronor ($3,758) minimum monthly salary would “tighten the requirements for jobs that unemployed people in Sweden could do”. The amount was chosen because it was the median salary across Sweden in 2019.

“We need to stop economic migration to less qualified roles that can be done by the people who are here,” Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson said. 

Salary is already regulated by Sweden's work permits, but the only fixed number is that the salary must be at least 13,000 kronor per month. Salaries for work permit holders should also be in line with any collective bargaining agreements that the employer is subject to, or otherwise “in line with expectations for the industry”.

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Average salaries vary significantly not only by profession but also by age and location of workers in Sweden.

Some of the jobs with a lower average salary than the Moderates' proposals include cleaners (24,200 kronor per month), cashiers (22,900 kronor), vets (28,200 kronor), preschool teachers (31,400 kronor), assistant nurses (29,200 kronor) and carers for the elderly (28,900 kronor) according to Statistics Sweden. These figures are based on the mean average, which is calculated differently to the median.

The Moderates also proposed that people moving to Sweden for work be required to prove they could support any family members moving with them, including by having a property of “a certain size and standard”

There was no specific suggestion, but for family reunification permits the current requirement is an apartment with one room plus a kitchen or kitchenette for two adults, and any children must have a separate bedroom (two children can share).

The Moderates' proposals also include a complete stop on people moving to Sweden to work as personal assistants, saying that this was “associated with fraud, abuse and criminality”, and would remove the possibility for asylum seekers who have had their asylum requests rejected to apply to stay in Sweden on a work permit.

The government's report on its own proposals for work permits was presented at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Click here to read The Local's in-depth explanation of what the new proposals mean for you.

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