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On February 15th, the government received the report "New Rules for Labor Immigration." During Thursday's press conference, the investigator, along with Minister for Migration Maria Malmer Stenergard, presented the changes proposed by the investigation to come into force from June 1st, 2025. The report covers several proposals for stricter rules regarding work permits, as well as actions to promote highly skilled labor immigration to Sweden. These new proposals align with the government's aim to reduce low-skilled labor migration to Sweden while attracting highly skilled labor.

According to the investigation a significant part of current labor immigration concerns occupations with low salary levels and no requirements on higher education. This is something that the investigation has been tasked to counteract. Therefore, the investigator proposes an increase in the minimum salary level for work permits. 

Under the current regulations, individuals applying for work permits need to have a monthly salary equivalent to 80% of the Swedish median wage, currently SEK 27,360. The investigation suggests raising this level so that the salary for those applying for work permits corresponds to the Swedish median wage, currently SEK 34,200. This level will be adjusted annually based on statistics from SCB.

The investigator proposes for certain groups to be exempted from the new minimum salary requirement. Such exemptions could apply to individuals who just graduated from a Swedish university applying for work permits, those with residence permits for research, and also for occupations where there is a need for labor that cannot be filled by the Swedish labor market. Exceptions may also be made if there is a need for a certain type of labor that cannot be met in specific parts of Sweden. The government will decide on such exemptions based on data from the Migration Agency and the Public Employment Service. Individuals exempt from the new salary requirement will still have to get a salary in line with collective agreements or industry practices for their relevant profession.

Further measures proposed to limit low-skilled labor immigration include the exclusion of certain occupations from the possibility of applying for work permits. The occupations listed by the investigation are personal assistants and berry pickers. The investigation also aims to abolish the possibility of so-called "status changes" from asylum to work permit and to increase the special fee for employers hiring foreigners who are not permitted to reside or work in Sweden. 

Additionally, it is proposed to introduce a requirement for a comprehensive health insurance for foreigners granted work permits with validity of less than one year. Employers would also be obligated to notify the Migration Agency if an employee with a work permit terminates their employment or if the employment never commences, to enable the Swedish Migration Agency to revoke the work permit.

The investigation also includes proposals to promote highly skilled labor immigration. Among other things, the investigator wants to introduce the possibility of granting a permit called Blue Card with a validity period of 4 years, instead of the current 2 years. They also want to give individuals with residence permits to seek employment after completing university studies the opportunity to apply for residence permits for research from within Sweden, which is not possible under current regulations.

KPMG's comments

- KPMG sees many of the new proposals as anticipated and in line with the government's desire to tighten the regulations on labor immigration to Sweden and promote highly skilled labor. 

- For some industries, the opportunity to apply for work permits will be significantly limited. This is also in line with the overall perspective to limit low-skilled immigration 

- KPMG anticipate that applying for Blue Card compared to other types of work permits may become more attractive due to longer validity time.

- The matter of needs-based exemptions from the new minimum salary for certain occupations and areas in Sweden is an important addition to support business, especially in the northern parts of Sweden, but it remains to be seen how this assessment will be practically conducted.

KPMG continues to monitor the developments regarding new regulatory framework for labor immigration to Sweden.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss.

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