Updates in labour migration regulation

On 4 May 2023 the Swedish Government, together with its co-operative party the Sweden Democrats, presented a proposal to raise the salary threshold for obtaining a work permit from the current SEK 13,000 per month to SEK 26,560 per month.

In the autumn of 2022, the Swedish Government and the Sweden Democrats (Sw. Sverigedemokraterna) (together the “Tidö Parties”) set up an inquiry to, among other things, raise the salary threshold for labour immigrants to a salary level corresponding to the median salary for Swedish employees. Although the now proposed increase constitutes more than a doubling of the current salary threshold, the limit is lower than what was agreed upon by the Tidö parties in the so called Tidö agreement. Instead of reaching the Swedish median salary, the increase corresponds to about 80% of the median salary. However, the Tidö Parties do not rule out the possibility of further increasing the salary threshold in the future.

According to the Tidö Parties, the purpose of the increase is to, among other things, mitigate the risk of economic vulnerability among labour immigrants and to prevent labour market crime. Through the proposal, the Tidö Parties intend to place greater emphasis on highly qualified labour immigration and to counteract labour immigration to low-paid professions with low or no educational requirements. It is the expectation of the Tidö Parties that low-paid professions will be obtained to a greater extent by people who are already in the country but do not support themselves. However, the proposal contains exceptions for certain types of seasonal workers, such as berry pickers.

Between 2019 and 2020, more than 80% of all labour immigrants received a salary of more than SEK 25,000 per month. Thus, the Tidö Parties’ assessment is that the number of individuals who will be affected by the increase amounts to only a few thousand and that immigration may thus decrease by a corresponding number. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sw. Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner) has, however, criticised the proposal of an increased salary threshold and stated that it will make recruitment and the ability to meet the skill requirements in the welfare sector more difficult.

According to the Swedish Migration Agency’s (Sw. Migrationsverket) forecasts, about 100,000 people are expected to apply for a work permit in Sweden during 2023. The number of work permits granted in 2022 amounted to 24,000. The outcome of the proposal, currently open for consultation, is yet to be determined as it awaits a vote in the Swedish Parliament (Sw. Riksdagen). It remains uncertain what implications it will have on labour immigration if passed in its present state. The increased income requirement is proposed to enter into force on 1 October 2023.