Immigration Alert – New work permit process to be implemented
Today, the Swedish Government held a press conference announcing that a directional decision has been made which provides instructions to the Migration Agency on how to implement a new process for work and residence permit applications. The current certification, granting faster processing times will be removed and the processing times will instead be based on a priority list. Highly skilled workers will be on top of the priority list benefiting from a processing time of 30 days, likely business days although this is not clear in the communication. Deloitte has summarized the information that is currently available.
In 2011 the Swedish Migration Agency introduced a possibility for companies to become certified. The aim of the certification was to offer fast and efficient processing times for work and residence permit applications where possible. The certification is granted through an application process and once received, it entitles companies to shorter processing times of 10 – 20 business days for the applications of their employees. The prerequisite of the certification is that applications filed should be “ready for decision”, i.e. be complete, correct and contain all the necessary information and supporting documents for the Migration Agency to issue a decision without further investigation. For applications filed outside of the certification, the processing time is considerably longer and can often range between 6-12 months depending on the application type.
The possibility to become certified was initially limited to a few companies and immigration providers adding clients to their own certification. However, these days the certification has been granted on a broad basis. To meet the general conditions of the certification, companies would need to show a stable financial situation and a reoccurring need for third country recruitments. Companies within certain industries deemed riskier from an immigration perspective, e.g. construction companies, cleaning companies, hotels, restaurants etc. were generally excluded from the fast track albeit not always. The certification could be withdrawn by the Migration Agency if companies did not fulfill the quality requirement of submitting correct and complete applications, but these scenarios are quite infrequent.
The certified fast track has been frequently used by companies since it was introduced, and the Migration Agency has for longer periods of time been able to keep up with the agreed processing time of 10-20 business days. However, since December 2021 the processing within the certification has been significantly delayed to around 3-6 months dependent on the application type.
There are several both internal and external causes behind the delays but looking at the major external point mentioned during the press conference, the certification was initially only meant to be accessible by a small number of larger companies to guarantee high quality applications. Now it includes 640 companies, of which 20 percent operate in risk industries.
The New Process
The Migration Agency has been requested by the government to construct a new application process that will enable faster processing times with the goal to maintain Sweden’s place as an attractive destination on the global employment market for highly skilled workers.
Currently, there is very little information regarding the new process. However, according to the information made available at today’s press conference, the Migration Agency’s processing times will be based on four different case types in a falling priority:
1) Highly skilled workers (based on SSYK-code)
Companies that employ this category of employees will benefit from an expedited processing time of 30 business days, provided that the applications are complete and correct. Highly skilled workers are individuals holding executive positions or working in occupations where either in-depth university competence, regular university competence or similar competence is required. This system will be very similar to the current certification.
2) Occupations with specific regulations
An example of occupations with specific regulations are specialists, executives and interns comprised by the EU Intra-corporate transfers Directive corporate transfer directive (EU ICT) that currently has a maximum processing time of 90 days. Apart from the EU ICT, this group also consists of EU Blue card individuals, artists, berry pickers, au-pairs etc.
3) Non-qualified occupations
This category would include most of the remaining occupations where academic skills are not required.
4) Industries that require investigation
This category would likely include the risk industries.
The Migration Agency also announced that it will be adjusting its focus in the immigration process to highly skilled workers. While previous emphasis was placed on the applicant, the Migration Agency now recognizes the importance of including the hiring company in the process. This change in approach involves establishing more direct communication and providing enhanced services to facilitate an efficient and effective recruitment of highly skilled workers to Sweden. As a part of this, new departments focusing on the recruiting of highly skilled workers will be introduced.
The Migration Agency has until the 4th of September 2023 to report back to the government regarding the proposed new immigration system and the changes that are planned to go live by the end of the year.
Last year a total amount of 104 000 applications were submitted to the Migration Agency according to their information, out of which 40 percent were work and residence permit applications handled through the certification fast track. Deloitte was one of the first companies to be granted the certification in 2011 and this process has worked very well for a long period of time. The certification has however not been the same for a while now, due to the vast increase in the number of certified companies and the fact that the requirements have not been met in all cases.
While it remains to be seen exactly how the new process will look in practice, a change was needed - especially considering the current processing delays within the certified process. For 1,5 years companies have struggled to recruit much needed competence from abroad due to lack of predictability which has led to difficulties with business planning and a general feeling of insecurity amongst the applicants.
It is Deloitte’s view based on received information that quality will still be of great importance going forward, especially for the highly skilled workers to be granted the faster processing time of 30 business days (likely business days as previously mentioned). If incorrect or incomplete applications will continue to be filed, the Migration Agency will continue to face difficulties keeping the promised processing times which will result in companies looking for business opportunities outside of Sweden.
Hopefully, the new immigration system that the Swedish Migration Agency has been instructed to create will aim to attract much needed foreign labor by offering a simple, flexible, and most importantly predictable immigration process.
Deloitte will continue to monitor the developments.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us:
Director, Head of Immigration
Global Employer Services
+46 70 080 21 60
Manager, Immigration - Global Employer Services
+46 70 080 32 62
Manager, Immigration - Global Employer Services
+46 70 080 35 48
+46 75 246 26 00