Changes Proposed To Law On Foreigners

17.1.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson has spelled out some of the changes he wants to see made to Iceland's law on foreigners.

The minister, in an article he wrote for DV, announced that last Friday, the ruling coalition had approved a bill on immigration law.

First, the bill could empower foreign students coming to Iceland with the right to bring their children with them for the duration of their studies. For this, Ögmundur cites the United Nations directive on the rights of families to stay together, regardless of their country of residence. This bill would also make the right to a permanent residence permit bound to a particular individual. As it is now, if an immigrant changes their living situation - such as by getting married - this will not necessarily be factored in to the decision to grant permanent residency.

Some of the greater changes proposed in the bill concern asylum seekers. If passed into law, the bill would do away with arresting and charging refugees who come to Iceland with false passports. The time period for processing an asylum seeker application would be set at a maximum of six months. If, for whatever reason, the process takes longer than 18 months, the asylum seeker would be granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. The bill would also create an independent committee for those applying for residence in Iceland as asylum seekers. Similar committees, Ögmundur points out, already exist in Denmark and Norway.

This bill has yet to be voted on by parliament.

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