Friday, May 1, 2009


New rules regarding the hiring of employees from outside the EU

By Carl-Fredrik Hedenström

New rules for labour migration to Sweden have just entered into force, constituting one of the most significant reforms of Swedish immigration policy in several decades. The new regulations aim at making it easier for employers to hire staff from non EU-countries.

No authority based labour market probation 

In the previous system, the Swedish Public Employment Office examined the need for recruitment of foreign workers from outside the EU based on a work offer that the potential employer had to submit to the agency. The new rules delegate it to the individual employers to assess whether labour is available within Sweden, other EU/EEA countries or Switzerland. The new rules are based on the assumption that an employer is best suited to decide the recruitment needs for his or her business and not a government agency. 

Under the new rules, the Swedish Migration Board has, however, taken over the responsibility from the Swedish Public Employment Office to control that Community preference is respected, i.e. that job vacancies are made available first to applicants in the other EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, before being offered to non-EU residents. An employer will fulfill his duties in this respect by posting a job offer at for instance the site for open positions at the Employment office before offering it to a non-EU resident. 

Requirements regarding terms of employment
The Swedish Migration Board examines whether the terms offered to the foreign employee, i.e. salary, insurance protection and other terms of employment, are in accordance with the conditions applying for employees already resident in the country. The terms of employment must thus be at par with those set out in relevant Swedish collective bargaining agreements or provided by common practice in the particular occupation or industry. This is to ensure that there is balanced competition for jobs in the labour market and that social dumping is avoided. 

Extended time limits for work permits
Work permits can be granted for the duration of the employment, but for a maximum of two years. The permit can be extended once or several times, if the person’s employment continues after the initial period. The total duration of the permit is limited to no more than four years, after which the person can qualify for a permanent residence permit. Applications for an extension of a work permit can be made while the employee is in Sweden. 

Three months period for finding a new job
Based on a job offer it will also be possible for potential employees to come to Sweden for interviews etc. and if the job is finally offered to the applicant, he/she will not have to leave Sweden while the permit is processed as was the case under the old rules. It may of course also happen that an employment is terminated during an ongoing permit period. To avoid a withdrawal of the residence permit in these situations, the employee will be free to stay in Sweden for an additional three months to apply for a new job. 

Applications by visiting students
Visiting students who have completed at least one semester in a postgraduate program at institutions of higher education are allowed to apply for a residence and work permit without having to first leave Sweden when the education is completed. 

Asylum seekers applying for residence and work permits
In certain circumstances, an asylum seeker whose application for a residence permit has been refused through a final decision will be able to apply for a residence and work permit while in the country. The asylum seeker must have worked for at least six months, have an offer for a permanent job or a job lasting at least one year, and otherwise fulfill the general requirements for being granted a work permit. The application has to be made to the Swedish Migration Board within two weeks of the final decision rejecting the asylum application.