Paperwork Problems: Sweden Still Struggling With Jobless Migrants

© AFP 2022 / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDAbdallah Salah (L), President of Islamic Relief Sweden, helps refugee's as they register their names upon arrival to Stockholm central mosque on October 15, 2015 after many hours bus journey from the southern city of Malmo
Abdallah Salah (L), President of Islamic Relief Sweden, helps refugee's as they register their names upon arrival to Stockholm central mosque on October 15, 2015 after many hours bus journey from the southern city of Malmo - Sputnik International
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Last year, 163,000 people came to Sweden in search of asylum. However, only a fraction received work permission from the immigration office. Even fewer - a total of 494 people - actually landed a job.

View of Riddarholmen from Stockholm's City Hall tower. - Sputnik International
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Only 494 asylum seekers who arrived in Sweden last year managed to find a job to support themselves, while waiting for their application to be processed, Swedish television network SVT reported, citing figures from Sweden's employment agency and the Migration board.

An asylum seeker with a valid ID is usually allowed to work in Sweden despite not yet having a residence permit, provided he or she is granted an exception by the Migration board. Typically, such an exception is granted automatically. Last year, however, Sweden was faced with an unprecedented number of asylum claims, which stalled the administrative machinery.

"It was an incredible number of people applying for asylum in Sweden, and we had to de-prioritize certain tasks to simply be able to register them all, and it was the matter of jobs," Lisa Bergstrand of the Migration board told SVT.

Security checks travellers IDs on January 4, 2016 at the train station in Kastrup (Denmark), the last stop before Sweden - Sputnik International
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Last year, SVT hailed the immigrant boom in Sweden as largely beneficial for the economy, pompously describing the influx of mostly low-skilled immigrants as a "rain of competence." However, the brutal truth is that thousands of new arrivals remain jobless as Sweden is still struggling with the aftershocks of the unparalleled refugee influx.

Recent figures suggest that the employment gap between native Swedes and the foreign-born is likely to grow further. In April, unemployment rates among people born in Sweden fell to 4.9 percent, hitting its lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2008, whereas unemployment among the foreign-born was registered as 14.9 percent, Norrköpings Tidningar reported.

In December, Sweden's employment agency made the grim prediction that by 2017 up to 60 percent of the unemployed living in Sweden will be foreign-born. The challenge of finding work will hit the new arrivals in particular, above all those with low levels of education.

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Currently, Sweden's red-green coalition government, comprised of the Social Democrats and the Green, has pondered handing out temporary residence permits in the text three years in order to step up the pressure on asylum seekers to find work. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has previously insisted he will achieve his goal of Sweden having the lowest unemployment rate in the EU by 2020, a task which has proven increasingly hard to perform.

At present, the number of unemployed migrants in the Nordic nation of roughly 10 million is three times as large as the total personnel of the Swedish army, which is registered at 52,325, according to Sweden's armed forces.

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