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Sweden proposes new rules for work permit holders

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.

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

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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WORKING IN SWEDEN

EXPLAINED: What do we know so far about Sweden’s new ‘talent visa’?

In the new work permit law which comes into force on June 1st, Sweden is launching a new nine-month 'talent visa', which will allow “some highly qualified individuals” to get temporary residency while they look for jobs or plan to launch a business. What do we know so far?

EXPLAINED: What do we know so far about Sweden's new 'talent visa'?

When was the law passed and when does it come into force? 

The parliament passed the new law on April 21st, and the final text of the change in the law was published on May 5th. It will come into force on June 1st. 

What does the new law say about the ‘talent visa’? 

It says that “in certain cases”, a temporary residency permit can be granted to a foreigner who wants to “spend time in the country to look for work or to look into the possibility of starting a business”. 

To qualify the applicant must: 

  • have completed studies equivalent to an advanced level degree 
  • have sufficient means to support themselves during their stay and to cover the cost of their return trip 
  • have fully comprehensive health insurance which is valid in Sweden 

How long can people initially stay in Sweden under the talent visa? 

The residency permit will be valid for a maximum of nine months.

Which agency will assess applications for the talent visa? 

The government has decided that applications should be assessed by the Migration Agency. The Migration Agency will publish more details on the requirements, such as what qualifies as an advanced degree, what documents need to be submitted, and how much capital applicants will need to show they can support themselves, in the coming weeks. 

The Migration Agency is also likely to develop a form for those wishing to apply for the talent visa. 

What level of education is necessary? 

What is meant by an “advanced degree” has not been set ou in the law, but according to Karl Rahm, who has helped draw up the law within the Ministry of Justice, a master’s degree (MA or MSc), should be sufficient. 

How much capital will applicants need to show that they have? 

According to Rahm, the amount of money applicants will need to show that they have is likely to be set at the same level as the minimum salary for those applying for a work permit, which is currently 13,000 kronor a month. If he is right, this means that someone applying for a nine-month visa would have to show that they have 117,000 kronor (€11,259) in saved capital, plus extra for their trip back to their home country.

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

Can applicants bring children and spouses? 

“You will not be able to bring your family with this kind of visa, since the idea is that it’s for a relatively limited amount of time,  just to see if there is employment for you, or if there is a chance of starting a business,” says Elin Jansson, deputy director at the Ministry of Justice, who helped work on the new visa. “And if you do decide to stay in Sweden, then you apply for a regular work permit for starting up a business, and then you can bring your family.” 

Where will detailed information on the requirements for a talent visa be published? 

The Migration Agency will publish detailed requirements on the talent visa on its Working in Sweden page when the law starts to apply on June 1st. 

What is the reason for the talent visa? 

Those searching for a job or researching starting a new business in Sweden can already stay for up to 90 days with a normal Schengen visa. The idea behind the talent visa is to give highly educated foreigners a little longer to decide if they want to find a job or set up a business in the country before they need to go the whole way and launch a company. 

How many people are expected to apply? 

In the government inquiry on the new work permit law, experts estimated that about 500 people would apply for the new talent visa each year, but it could end up being either much more, or less. 

“It’s really hard to tell. There could be a really big demand. I don’t think it’s anyone can really say before this comes into effect,” Jansson said. 

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