Effects of Changes to the Free Right to Employment and Residence Act
On May 1st, 2006, legislation came into effect allowing citizens of eight new European Union Member States – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – to enter the country in search of employment and enter into employment without applying for a special work permit. These citizens must apply for an European Economic Area (EEA) residence permit and employers hiring them must give notice to the Directorate of Labour.
Employers must give notice of employment to the Directorate of Labour within ten working days.
Employers who hire citizens of these countries need to notify the Directorate of Labour. The citizens in question still need to apply for an EEA residence permit in accordance with legislation on foreigners.
Status of those holding temporary residence and work permits prior to May 1st, 2006.
Citizens of the above-named countries who came to this country prior to May 1st, 2006 and who currently hold temporary work and residence permits have the same status as their compatriots arriving after May 1st. They do not need a special work permit in order to work in this country but employers must give notice of their employment to the Directorate of Labour when hiring them.
Status of those holding permanent residence and work permits prior to May 1st, 2006
The legislation that came into effect on May 1st does not have any impact on the status of citizens of the above-named countries who have received both permanent residence permits in accordance with legislation on foreigners and permanent work permits in accordance with legislation on foreigners’ rights to employment. Employers need not give notice when hiring them as they have unrestricted authorization to enter into employment in this country.
Increased preference given to citizens of countries within the EEA.
With this legislation, the preference given to citizens of countries within the EEA is further emphasized. With the EEA Agreement, Icelandic authorities committed themselves to giving citizens of EEA countries preference over citizens of other countries to work in Iceland. Employers are encouraged to look for workers within the EEA.
Granting of work permits to citizens from countries outside the EEA
Previously standing legislation regarding foreign nationals’ right to work will continue to apply in the case of citizens from countries outside the EEA. Before a work permit is granted to citizens of countries outside the EEA, Icelandic authorities must determine if the job has been advertised within the EEA, and if a citizen of a country party to the EEA Agreement is interested in the job, that individual is given preference. This is applicable whether a new work permit is at issue, extension of a work permit or a new application when changing employers.