On Friday the 12th of May, the Swedish Government held a press conference announcing that the current certification scheme for work permit applications (also known as fast track) will be replaced later in 2023. The current director general Mikael Ribbenvik has taken a directional decision for the Swedish Migration Agency, which provides instructions to the authority on how to implement a new process for work and residence permit applications. The current certification scheme, which used to provide a faster processing time will be replaced by a system which will categorize and prioritize applications based on occupation and industry.

When implemented, the certification scheme was only intended for about 20 big companies who had a reoccurring and vast need to employ individuals outside of the EU. Today there are, according to the Migration Agency, far too many companies (640 mentioned during the press conference) who have been included in the certification process, and the authority has been unable to meet the agreed processing times of 10/20 days for around one and a half year. The extensive processing times have resulted in loss of talent and skills for companies in Sweden. The certification scheme has lost its original purpose and will now be replaced with a new system, based on four categories. The last day to apply for becoming a certified operator under the current scheme will be 31 May 2023.

New priority list

The new priority list will consist of four categories. At the top of the authority´s and the government’s agenda is to shorten the work permit application process for highly skilled workers who make out the first category. Provided that these applications are complete when submitted, the Migration Agency guarantees a processing time of maximum 30 days. Agents such as KPMG will still be able to submit applications on behalf of the company and their employees.

Category A covers applications for highly qualified occupations and applies to three areas: managerial occupations, occupations which require advanced university competence and occupations which requires higher education competence or equivalent. This category will be the authority´s way to replace the current certification scheme.

Category B includes applications for work permits in occupations which have specific rules, such as seasonal occupations, intra-corporate transfers (ICT), permits under the EU Blue Card Directive etc. Both ICT and EU Blue Card applications today already have a specific processing time regulated in the Swedish Alien´s Act of 90 days. This category will also include applications to start business activities.

Category C covers applications that do not require a higher education competence and non-highly qualified occupations in sectors that do not require a higher level of case investigation by the authority. This category includes occupations that constitute an important social benefit even though not classified a highly qualified. Applications for major new establishments in growth areas are also part of this category.

Category D are relevant for the work permit applications within the sectors that the Migration Agency defines as particularly demanding in terms of case investigation. These are sectors such as cleaning, construction, personal assistance and hotels and restaurants.

The Migration Agency will be working on implementing this new process, setting up new entities within the authority and will before the 4th of September 2023 report back to the government. The changes are planned to go live by the end of this year.

KPMG's comments

KPMG are positive to see that the government and the Swedish Migration Agency are taking action to improve the current system for work permit applications. For far too long, the certification scheme has failed to deliver on the set-out agreement between agent/company and the authority. At this stage, there is little information on the new process and how it will work but KPMG see the change as positive. Although the fast track, or certification scheme, no longer will be in place, hopefully this new commitment from the government will result in a system which is faster and more predictable,

Several changes have already been enforced when it comes to the process of applying for different types of work and residence permits in Sweden and it has been KPMG´s experience that confusion has followed these changes. Little or no information has previously been communicated by the Migration Agency and it has taken time for the authority to implement and interpret new regulations. KPMG will therefore closely follow the development and look forward to communicating further on the subject

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