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How will the new work permit law just passed in Sweden affect foreigners?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
How will the new work permit law just passed in Sweden affect foreigners?
Sweden's new work permit law is designed to reduce talent deportations. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Sohn/TT

The government's work permit overhaul, designed among other things, to reduce the number of talented foreign workers being deported due to minor paperwork issues, passed in Sweden's parliament on Wednesday, meaning it will come into force on June 1st.


The overhaul, which Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced in December shortly after she was elected, is designed to crack down on so-called kompetensutvisningar or "talent deportations" and provide a new visa for highly-educated job seekers wanting to apply for work in Sweden.

The bill will also require those seeking permits to have a signed contract from an employer, and to be able to show they are able to support any family members they bring to Sweden with them.  

What is in the proposal?

The proposal includes a new work permit for "some highly qualified individuals" to come to Sweden in order to seek work or start a business, as well as a proposal targeting talent deportations, stating that work permits do not need to be recalled in cases with "minor cases of deviation" from work permit laws, or "if revoking the work permit does not seem reasonable in light of the circumstances".

In addition to this, work permits will only be issued to applicants who already have a job contract, employers will be liable to report to authorities if the terms of employment are changed and become less favourable, and employers will be subject to fines if they do not provide written information to the Migration Agency about the applicant's terms of employment.

Furthermore, work permit holders wishing to bring family with them will need to prove that they can provide for their family members, and human trafficking laws will be altered to make it easier to prosecute people who have given false information in order to receive a work permit.


Who will be affected by the new law?

The new law will only affect non-EU citizens wishing to work in Sweden, as EU citizens in Sweden for work are issued permits under EU law, rather than Swedish law.

The law will not affect existing work permits, but could apply when existing permits expire and applicants reply for a renewal or extension.

Why were the opposition parties against the proposal?

Although the proposal is likely to be approved, this does not mean that the opposition parties were in total agreement. Over 50 motions were raised by opposition parties in response to the proposal, all of which have been rejected.

These included suggestions from the Moderates, the Sweden Democrats and the Christian Democrats advocating for a minimum salary requirement, meaning that applicants would need to earn above a certain amount in order to qualify for a work permit.

Under current rules, applicants only need to earn a minimum of 13,000 kronor per month in order to fulfil legal criteria for having enough money to support themselves. The Moderates believe this amount should be around 27,500 kronor per month, or around 85 percent of the average Swedish salary (32,000 kronor per month).

The Christian Democrats believe this lower limit should be 35,000 kronor - previously, they had stated 30,000 kronor was sufficient - with exceptions for lower-paid professions - such as nurses and other healthcare personnel - requiring foreign labour.


What will happen now?

The law is proposed to go into effect on June 1st, 2022. Before this date, work permits will continue to be issued under the current rules.

Depending on what happens in September's election, a new government could decide to implement further reforms, which, if approved, would be unlikely to come into effect before 2023.

Will this actually help prevent talent deportations?

According to Amelie Berg, senior legal adviser at the Confederation for Swedish Enterprise, specialising in the labour market and work environment law, it will.

"We've noted that 'talent deportations' already began to diminish a few years ago, primarily due to several new rulings from the Migration Court of Appeal," she told The Local.

"This has led to a more permissive application of the requirements. We still welcome the proposals and our assessment is that they will further reduce the risk of unjust deportations, especially in combination with each other."

However, the proposal is far from perfect. "We advocate a well-functioning system for labour migration and burdensome regulations putting excessive demands on either companies or employees, which in practice are difficult to meet, are not a part of that,” Berg said.

One example of this is the new requirement that permit applicants must have a signed contract before they can apply for a work permit.

"We believe that the requirement to provide a signed employment contract ahead of actually applying for a work permit will be both practically difficult and not in line with neither regular procedures nor legal requirements when hiring,” she said.

The proposal that work permit holders must be able to provide for any family members wishing to join them in Sweden may also cause issues. "The new requirement regarding the demand that labour migrants who bring their family must show that they can provide for the family's livelihood is unclear and may be difficult to meet for many labour migrants," Berg said.


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matiasjavierdm 2022/04/20 19:56
is there any significant change for people that are looking to apply for permanent residence after June?

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