Work permits

An employer who intends to hire a foreign national who is a national of a state outside of the European Economic Area, of an EFTA-state or the Faeroe Islands, shall apply for and already have received a work permit prior to the foreign national beginning work. Applications for work permits must be submitted, including the necessary supporting documentation, to the Directorate of Immigration who then forwards the application to the Directorate of Labour if the conditions for the issuing of a residence permit for the relevant foreign national are met.

If a foreigner is a national of a state from within the European Economic Area, an EFTA-state or the Faeroe Islands then it is not necessary to apply for a work permit concerning the foreigner's work for the employer. If it is necessary to obtain an ID number for the foreign national then you need to contact Registers Iceland, see more information at www.skra.is. In order to get information regarding which state's nationals are exempted with respect to a work permit in Iceland click here.

Categories of work permits

Click on the relevant category for more information regarding the requirements for the issuing of various types of work permits.

Temporary work permit for a job that requires expert knowledge

A temporary work permit may be issued for a specific position in Iceland when the job requires specialist knowledge (specialist license), cf. 8. Article of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals' Right to Work. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the assistance of the Directorate of Labour has been called upon to find an employee in Iceland and within the EEA, the EFTA- states or in the Faeroe Islands,
  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with the employer to fill a specific position that requires expert knowledge provided that this is not a temporary work project,
  • That the expert knowledge of the foreign national is essential for the relevant company, and
  • that the expert knowledge of the foreign national connotes an education from a university, trade school, an art school, or a technical education that is recognised in Iceland, or in exceptional circumstances that the foreigner possesses a long work experience that can be equated to expert knowledge.

An application for a specialist license must be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration including the necessary supporting documents. It speeds up the process if such an application is submitted at the same time when the application for a residence permit is submitted to the Directorate of Immigration.

Requisite documentation with the application:

1. Original copy of the application for a temporary work permit for a job that requires expert knowledge.
    a) A formal statement from a trade union entered on the application must be obtained before the application is returned (box IV in the application).
    b) Both the foreign national and the employer need to sign the application.

2. A contract of employment between a foreign national and an employer wherein the following must be included:
    a) Information about the prospective job of the foreigner with the employer.
    b) Information about a pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
    c) The foreign national's terms of employment must be similar to the terms of employment of other specialists that work in the relevant sector.

3. Certified copy of the foreign national's diploma in Icelandic or English.
    a) If this involves a regulated professional title or legally protected trade it must be accompanied with an attestation from competent Icelandic authorities that the foreign national possesses the required certification to be able to undertake the job that he or she is hired to do.

4. If the foreign national's expert knowledge is based on a lengthy work experience the application must be accompanied by information about earlier workplaces and period of service.

5. Information about the attempts by the employer to hire an employee who already has access to the Icelandic job market before searching outside the EEA for employees, or if this was not done, the reasoning for this having not been done before searching for employees outside the EEA.

6. Confirmation that the employer will pay for the return travel of the foreign national at the end of the period of service if the contract of employment is terminated due to causes not the fault of the employee, or if a foreigner becomes disabled for a long time because of illness or accident. It must be specified to which country the return travel extends.

When applying for an extension of a specialist license only the documentation that is specified in items 1 and 2 above has to be submitted.

A temporary work permit for a job that requires specialist knowledge can be the basis for an unrestricted work permit.

It is the applicant's responsibility to present the necessary documentation for the application for a temporary work permit. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Temporary work permits due to labour shortage

A temporary work permit may be granted for a particular job in Iceland when personnel is neither found in the domestic labour market nor in the EEA labour market, in the EFTA states or in the Faeroe Islands, i.e. because of shortage of labour (labour shortage permit), cf. Article 9 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work.  The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the assistance of the Directorate of Labour has been called upon to find staff in Iceland and within the EEA, the EFTA- states or the Faeroe Islands,
  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with the employer,
  • That a statement from the relevant union has been obtained, and
  • That the employer provides specific reasoning for the necessity to hire foreign employees from states outside the EEA, the EFTA states or the Faeroe Islands, and i.a. in what way this is important for the employer's business.

The Directorate of Labour draws attention to the fact that work permits issued because of labour shortage are only granted as an exception, and in such cases for the purpose of responding to temporary fluctuations in the Icelandic labour market. The employer will furthermore need to search for an employee who already has access to the Icelandic labour market before applying for such permit as well as when applying for an extension.

  1. Necessary documentation with an application for a work permit due to labour shortage
  2. Original copy of an application for a temporary work permit due to labour shortage.
  3. It is necessary to obtain a statement from a Union before returning the application form (box IV on the application form).
  4. Both the foreign national and the employer need to sign the application form.
  5. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the employer where the following information must be included:
  6. Information about the foreign national's expected job for the employer.
  7. Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
  8. The foreign national's terms of employment must be compliant with current wage agreements.
  9. Information about the attempts made by the employer to hire an employee who already has access to the Icelandic labour market before searching for personnel outside of the EEA.
  10.  Reasoning for the necessity of hiring this particular foreign national to work for the employer and for what reasons this is important for the employer's business.
  11. Attention is drawn to the fact that here we are not referring to reasons that involve the foreign national him or herself, or the foreign national's qualities but only to reasons that relate to the employer.
  12. Confirmation that the employer will pay for the return travel of the foreign national at the end of the period of service if the contract of employment is terminated due to causes not the fault of the employee, or if the foreign national becomes disabled for a long time because of illness or accident. It must be specified to which country the return travel extends.
  13. An application for an extension of a work permit issued due to labour shortage shall be accompanied by the same documentation as a new application.
  14. It is the applicant's responsibility to present the necessary documentation for the application for a temporary work permit. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Temporary work permits for athletes

Temporary work permits may be granted in the case of athletes working for sports clubs that are members of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland  cf. Article 10 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with a sports club in order to engage in a specific sport or to be a trainer for a specific sport at the club where the contract of employment includes information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner, and
  • That the sports club will pay for the return travel of the foreign national upon the conclusion? of the period of service in specific instances.

Necessary documentation with an application for a temporary work permit for athletes:

  1. An original copy of the application for a temporary work permit foran athlete.
  2. Both the foreign national and the representative of the sports club need to sign the application.
  3. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the sports club in which information about the following must be included:
  4. Information about the foreign national's expected job for the sports club.
  5. Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
  6. The terms of employment for the foreign national and other benefits that he is entitled to.
  7. Confirmation that the employer will pay for the return travel of the foreign national at the end of the period of service if the contract of employment is terminated due to causes not the fault of the employee, or if the foreign national becomes disabled for a long time because of illness or accident. It must be specified to which country the return travel extends.

An application for an extension of a temporary work permit for sportspeople shall be accompanied by the same documentation as a new application.

It is the applicant's responsibility to present the necessary documentation for the application for a temporary work permit. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Temporary work permits granted for special reasons

A temporary work permit may be granted exceptionally for special reasons, cf. Article 11 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work if the following conditions are met:

  • that the foreign national has previously been granted one of the following residence permits:
    • temporary residence permit,
    • a residence permit based on humanitarian grounds, or
    • residence permit under paragraph of  Article 11 of Act No. 96/2002 on Foreigners,
  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with the employer, and
  • That a statement from the relevant Union has been obtained.

Necessary documentation with application for a new temporary work permit granted for special reasons

  1. Original copy of application for a temporary work permit granted for special reasons
  2. It is necessary to obtain a statement from a Union before returning the application form (box IV on the application form).
  3. Both the foreign national and the employer need to sign the application form.
  4. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the employer including information about the following:
     a) Information about the foreign national's expected job for the employer.
     b) Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
     c) The foreign national's terms of employment must be compliant with current wage agreements.
     d) If the foreign national is expected to be engaged in work that involves a regulated professional title or a legally protected trade it must be accompanied with an attestation from competent Icelandic authorities that the foreign national possesses the required certification to be able to undertake the job that he or she is hired to do.

The same documentation must be submitted an application for an extension of a work permit granted for special reasons as in the case of a new application.

A temporary work permit for special reasons in connection with a residence permit based on humanitarian grounds may be the basis for an unrestricted work permit.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the documentation shown on the list. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

 

Temporary work permit based on family reunion

A foreign national may be granted a temporary work permit if his or her closest relative is an Icelandic citizen or has a specific type of work permit in Iceland, cf. Article 12 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the foreign national is:
    -a cohabiting partner of an Icelandic citizen,
    -the child of the spouse or of the cohabiting partner of an Icelandic citizen provided further conditions are met,
    -the spouse, cohabiting partner or child over 18 years of age provided further conditions are met, of a foreign national who has been granted one of the following types of work permits:
  • Temporary work permit for a job that requires expert knowledge, cf. Article 8 of the Act on Foreign Nationals Right to Work,
  • Temporary work permit that is connected with a residence permit based on humanitarian grounds, cf. Article 11 of the Act on Foreign Nationals Right to Work, or
  • A permanent work permit, cf. Article 17 of the Act on Foreign Nationals Right to Work
  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with the employer, and
  • That a statement from the relevant Union has been obtained.
  1. Necessary documentation with application for a new temporary work permit to be granted on the basis of family reunion.
  2. An original copy of the application for a temporary work permit to be granted on the basis of family reunion.
  3. It is necessary to obtain a statement from a Union before returning the application form (box IV on the application form).
  4. Both the foreign national and the employer need to sign the application form.
  5. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the employer where the following information must be included:
  6. Information about the foreign national's expected job for the employer.
  7. Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
  8. The foreign national's terms of employment must be compliant with current wage agreements.
  9. If the foreign national is expected to be engaged in work that involves a regulated professional title or a legally protected trade the application form must be accompanied with an attestation from competent Icelandic authorities that the foreign national possesses the required certification to be able to undertake the job that he or she is hired to do.

An application for an extension of a work permit granted because of family reunion must be accompanied by the same documentation that must be submitted as in the case of a new application.

A temporary work permit based on the grounds of family reunion may be the basis for an unrestricted work permit if the foreign national derives his or her right from a temporary work permit that has already been granted to a foreign national with an unrestricted work permit, or from an Icelandic citizen.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the documentation shown on the list. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Temporary work permits for students

A temporary work permit may be granted in the case of a foreign national who is engaged in studies in Iceland (student work permit) cf. Article 13 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with an employer,
  • That the full time work ratio of the foreign national is no more than 40% with the exception of work that is performed during school vacations or in the course of vocational training, and
  • That the foreign national has been granted a student residence permit under the Act on Foreigners.

Necessary documentation with an application for a student work permit:

  1. An original copy of the application form for a temporary work permit for students.
  2. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the employer where the following information must be included:
  3. Information about the foreign national's expected job for the employer.
  4. Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.
  5. The foreign national's terms of employment must be compliant with current wage agreements.
  6. If the foreign national is expected to be engaged in work that involves a regulated professional title or a legally protected trade the application form must be accompanied with an attestation from competent Icelandic authorities that the foreign national possesses the required certification to be able to undertake the job that he or she is hired to do.

An application form for an extension of a student work permit shall be accompanied by the same documentation as a new application.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the documentation shown on the list. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Unrestricted work permit

An unrestricted work permit may be granted cf. Article 17 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work, when the following conditions are met:

  • That the foreign national has obtained a permanent residence permit under the Act on Foreigners,
  • That the foreign national has entered into a written contract of employment with the employer,
  • That one of the following permits has been issued to the foreign national:

o    Temporary work permit for a job that requires expert knowledge.

o    Temporary work permit because of special ties to the country in connection with a residence permit on the basis of humanitarian grounds.

o    Temporary work permit as the closest relative of an Icelandic citizen or a foreign national with an unrestricted work permit.

o    A  permanent residence permit of a child under 18 years of age.

Necessary documentation with an application for a unrestricted work permit

  1. Original copy of an application for a unrestricted work permit.
  2. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the employer where the following information must be included:
  3. Information about the foreign national's expected job for the employer.
  4. Information about the pension fund to be paid into with respect to the work of the foreigner.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the documentation shown on the list. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

Temporary work permit for specialised employees based on a service contract

A temporary work permit may, under certain circumstances, be granted for specialised employees based on a service contract, cf. Article 15 of Act No. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals Right to Work. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are i.a.:

  • That the foreign company that will provide the service in Iceland does not have a place of business here in Iceland,
  • That a service agreement has been made between the foreign service company and the domestic user company, and
  • That the service agreement, or a certified annex to it, indicates that it is necessary that the foreign national for whom the work permit is being applied performs the intended service,

 

The necessary documents with the application for a new temporary work permit for specialised employees based on a service agreement:

  1. An original copy of the application for a temporary work permit granted on the basis of a service agreement.
  2. Service agreement between the foreign service company and the domestic user company
  3. That it is indicated in the service agreement, or in a certified annex to it, that it is necessary that the foreign national for whom the work permit is being applied does perform the service that is to be provided.
  4. A Contract of Employment between the foreign national and the service company which must include the following information:
  5. Information about the terms of employment for the foreign national while he/she stays in Iceland.

An application for an extension of a work permit for specialised employees on the basis of a service agreement must be accompanied by the same documentation that must be submitted as in the case of a new application.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the documentation shown on the list. If all the documentation is not submitted with the application it will result in a delay in the processing of the application or in the rejection of the application. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation if the agency finds this to be necessary.

 

 

 
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