Just 494 out of the 162,000 refugees who applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015 have managed to get a job, according to government figures released Tuesday.
Refugees are eligible to work while their applications are pending as long as they can show a valid identification document and haven’t been rejected for asylum in the past. A majority of asylum seekers would qualify for a work permit, but the national migration office was only capable of issuing one to one-third due to the high demand.
“There was an incredible amount of people who applied for asylum in Sweden, and for us to be able to register everyone we had to disregard certain areas, and employment was one of them,” Lisa Bergstrand, officer at the Swedish immigration office, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT. “We do what we’ve been told to do.”
Getting migrants off welfare and into the job market has been a problem for most European countries during the ongoing refugee crisis.
Germany announced reforms to its labor laws in May to make it easier for migrants to enter the job market. Migrants are exempt from minimum wage regulations and thousands of “one-euro jobs” — in which refugees can work for low wages of between $1.13 and $2.80 per hour — have been created. (RELATED: Germany To Strip Job Protection From Citizens To Make Room For Refugees)
The center-left government in Sweden has proposed a reform to asylum laws to force migrants into the work force. If an applicant can’t support himself after three years in the country, they won’t be eligible for permanent residency if the reforms pass.
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