It's now easier for non-EU citizens to work and live in Sweden. In fall 2008, the Swedish parliament voted to let employers themselves decide whether their foreign employees should be able to stay. The new rules, which became law on December, 15, 2008, also state that immigrants can get a work permit for up to four years. After that, they qualify for permanent residence. Students and asylum seekers will also find it easier to get work.
Sweden's Public Employment Service used to decide all cases, but now it's fully up to employers. However, employers do have rules to follow. Swedish collective bargaining agreements and standard industry practices must apply so that immigrant workers can still find decent work they can trust.
Open to All Workers
The new law also opens up Sweden's labor market to workers of all skill levels, in contrast to other EU countries' stricter policies that usually allow only more skilled workers. For many, this makes it much easier to get a visa for attending a job interview in Sweden. The job and the employer can't change for the first two years, however.
Economic Needs Challenge Tradition
The government is planning to emerge from the current economic downturn with a younger, more vibrant workforce. Yet by giving more sway to individual employers, unions and some parties on the left worry that the new rules will threaten Sweden's tradition of solid labor rights and welfare benefits. Some on the right object to the increase in immigration, a trend they already oppose.
Foreign Students Stay for Work
Visiting students who have completed a certain level of study--30 credits or more--can stay and apply for a work permit without having to leave the country first.
Working Helps Asylum Seekers
Asylum seekers who have already worked six months can now apply for a work visa even when the government denies their asylum request.
Steve Anderson has over 15 years of writing experience that includes work in marketing and advertising and a stint in the Associated Press. He has written novels, short stories and screenplays. Anderson also holds a master's in history and was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany. He lives in Portland, Ore.