Iceland Visas

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Iceland Visas, Work Permits and Migration

Iceland is a modern European nation, ranked one of the safest places to live and offering everything found in other developed countries, and a little bit more if you are into volcano eruptions! English speakers are in demand in the health and social care, tourism, teaching, retail, and wholesale industries; healthcare, tourism construction and IT being the leading sectors.

As Iceland has an aging population, immigrants with special skill sets or who can meet the requirements for ‘labor shortage’ positions are particularly welcome. Icelanders are enthusiastic and welcoming of expatriates and experts.

So, if you want to work in or move people into Iceland – how do you make it happen? Border controls are taken very seriously, and mistakes should not be made by individuals or companies over immigration documentation and visa/permit compliance.

Bradford Jacobs, with over 20 years’ experience with their Professional Employer Organization (PEO) specialists and Employer of Record (EOR) platforms can be there to assist. Employment documentation in one of the first steps to be sorted when companies are wanting to expand their businesses into new territories – maybe thousands of miles overseas.

What Types of Work Visas, and Permits for Iceland are there?

The Icelandic authorities, such as the Directorate of Immigration and the Directorate of Labor, determine who requires documentation, for what activities. They are also responsible for implementing and enforcing the rules as well as processing and issuing work and residence permits. The law covering foreign nationals is The Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act and it is up to each individual or company to make sure they follow official requirements to avoid fines or terms of imprisonment.  The first step is to check whether a visa or permit is required. This depends on nationality, purpose of stay and duration.

Main Work Permits of interest to companies

  • Foreign Specialists with Expert Knowledge which was designed to fill gaps in the jobs marketplace for skilled workers. The duration of the work permit depends on the project or the employment contract. Companies need to prove that the TCNs they want to employ, are essential for their business, have a degree or recognized training or professional experience (seven years) – provided no local/EEA/EFTA citizen can be found to fill the position
  • Labor Shortages to cover a growth in particular sectors and lasts as long as the employment contract – provided no local/EEA/EFTA citizen can be found to fill the position

Alongside these work permits come the Residence Permits which are applied for and paid for at the same time by the employee. Although the employer makes an application for the work permit, it is not mandatory that they also pay for it … but is usual.

Other permits which also come with the relevant Residence Permit

  • For athletes
  • For family reunion
  • For students

The best route into the Icelandic job market for Third Country Nationals

  • A job offer and an employment contract with company in Iceland is the first step
  • The contract needs to have been signed by both the employer and employee and included with any application for the Work Permit and the Residence Permit
  • Applicants should check whether they are eligible to be in Iceland during approval and processing of the permits. Staying in Iceland illegally can stop their application and end with sanctions or imprisonment
  • The employer must have made a concerted effort to offer the position first to EFTA/EEA nationals
  • Employers need to confirm that should the foreigner have to be repatriated; they will be responsible for the costs involved
  • Where there is a Trade Union involved with the job position, the employer must send a letter of intention to them regarding employing a foreigner and they have 14 days to reply with recommendations
  • Directorate of Immigration assesses the application (suitability) for the Work Permit and Residence Permit plus checks documentation. Once the Residence Permit is granted, the application for the Work Permit is sent to the Directorate of Labor for approval and issuance
  • Upon approval of the Residence Permit, If a C-Visa is required for the employee to enter Iceland, notification will be sent to the consulate/embassy/Visa Centre for collection by the applicant
  • As soon as there is a decision regarding the Work Permit, both are notified by letter as is the Directorate of Immigration by the Directorate of Labor
  • Health Insurance is also required by the employee to cover his first six months in Iceland  

For Expert Knowledge Work and Residence Permit

  • The employment should not be a temporary position
  • Employer must show that these skills or ‘Expert Knowledge’ is necessary to the company
  • A degree, technical expertise, or professional experience to qualify for this permit (translated into English or Icelandic)
  • Valid for two years and takes from 16 to 32 weeks to process and for the first permit, can be up to six months (extendable)

Labor Shortage Work and Residence Permit

  • Typically, in sectors such as Healthcare, Construction, Tourism, and IT
  • Are qualified for the job position
  • Valid up to 1 year process takes about 16 to 32 weeks and up to 6 months in some cases

However, they can be expedited for an extra fee