New rules for work permits starting 1 June

On 1 June, new rules for labour immigration will come into effect. The new rules include the introduction of a requirement for an employment contract and the obligation of employers to report any deterioration of the terms of employment. The purpose of the changes now being introduced is to counteract the exploitation of workers and to attract and retain international competence.

So far this year, nearly 29,000 people have applied for a work permit in Sweden for the first time.

“Sweden is already an attractive country for people who want to come to Sweden to work. The new rules give the Swedish Migration Agency more tools to continue to promote labour immigration that meets companies’ needs for competence and prevents people from becoming the victims of rogue employers,” says Carl Bexelius, Head of Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Agency.

Carl Bexelius emphasises that the new rules are part of several upcoming proposals for changes to the regulations that cover labour immigration. The Government’s investigation into an improved system for combatting labour exploitation, which is expected to come into force in early 2023, will see further tightening aimed at discouraging the exploitation of workers.

More work steps and more complex legislation

The legislative amendments that will enter into force on 1 June, which will require the Swedish Migration Agency to handle more elements to handle in its processing and control, will increase demands on the agency.

“We welcome the new rules and hope that they can improve the conditions for foreign workers in the Swedish labour market. At the same time, we see that these are extensive changes that will require us to navigate more work steps and a more complex legislation. This is likely to affect our processing times for work permits,” says Carl Bexelius.

The Swedish Migration Agency is currently hard at work on the preparations required to start applying the new rules and the increased controls on 1 June.

Any deterioration of working conditions must be reported

One important change is that from 1 June, an employment contract must be attached to the application in order for the Swedish Migration Agency to grant a work permit. The new rules also mean that the Swedish Migration Agency can require that the working conditions be reported and that the employer is obliged to report if the terms of the employment contract become less favourable. An employer who does not report the working conditions at the request of the Swedish Migration Agency may be required to pay a fine.

In addition, the offence of organising people smuggling will be extended to include authorisations issued on the basis of false information.

“With these changes, we will have a greater opportunity to address some of the abuse of the system that occurs, especially in certain industries, while at the same time being able to prevent people from being the victims of rogue employers,” says Carl Bexelius.

Another change is the introduction of a maintenance requirement for family immigration tied to foreign labour. In terms of the maintenance requirement, the rules will be more similar to the rules that apply to other family immigration – but without a requirement for housing of a certain size and standard.

Minor errors do not have to lead to expulsion

At the same time, changes are being made to prevent foreign workers from being expelled due to minor errors. As worded, the rules state that a temporary residence permit for work should not have to be revoked in minor cases of deviations or if a revocation appears to be unreasonable.

“Already today, the practice developed in court gives us some room to deal with minor errors based on an overall assessment, but now we are getting legislation that makes it clear that minor deviations should not have to lead to decisions to expel people who are established in the labour market,” says Carl Bexelius.

Highly qualified people can have up to nine months to look for a job

The changes in the legislation are also aimed at attracting and retaining international competence. A new temporary residence permit valid for up to nine months is being introduced for certain highly qualified people who wish to stay in the country to look for work or start a business here.

“One requirement is that the person has completed studies that correspond to a degree at the advanced level. The person must also have comprehensive health insurance and be able to support themselves,” says Carl Bexelius.

Facts: New rules for work permits

When the legislative amendments enter into force, they will cover not only new applicants, but also those who have already submitted a relevant application and are now awaiting a decision. More than 53,000 applications (including family members) are currently being processed by the Swedish Migration Agency, which in many cases will request supplementary information according to the new requirements.

Among other things, the new legislation means that:

  • a new residence permit is introduced for highly qualified and well-educated people who intend to look for work or start a business in Sweden
  • an employment contract will be required for a work permit, which means that an offer of employment is no longer sufficient
  • a work permit may be granted for a period longer than a total of four years
  • certain employers may be required to report any deterioration of the terms of employment
  • The Swedish Migration Agency will be able to require an employer to report the working conditions of the person who has been granted a work permit, and an employer who fails to do so must pay a fine
  • a maintenance requirement is introduced for family members of workers
  • an entry visa can be issued for those who need to travel abroad on a business trip during the processing of an application for an extended work permit (not valid for personal trips)
  • the possibility exists to refrain from revoking a work permit if deficiencies and deviations are minor or if it would be unreasonable to revoke the permit
  • the offence of organised people smuggling shall also include work permits issued based on false information.

Website of the Parliament: Stricter and improved rules on labour immigration (Bill 2021/22:134) (in Swedish) External link, opens in new window.

More about what the new rules mean for people applying for a work permit

More about what the new rules mean for employers