It is nearly impossible for citizens outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to get a work permit in Iceland, the director of the Directorate of Labor told reporters, given the current state of unemployment in the country.
Iceland, as a part of the EEA, grants all EEA and EU citizens equal access to jobs, comparable to the access Icelanders have to work. However, Iceland actually has three sets of immigration laws: one of Scandinavians, who are the most privileged; one for EU citizens, who are nearly as privileged; and one of everyone else.
Gissur Pétursson, the director of the directorate of labor, told Vísir that “Unemployment is very high among unskilled workers, and over 55% of them in Iceland are unemployed. That speaks for itself that there is no need for this work force to come into this country,” taking the assumption that people from outside the EEA are all unskilled laborers.
When this discrepancy was pointed out to him, he amended his statement by saying, “It of course matters if there are special circumstances, or specialized skills involved, or some temporary project to be worked on. But if we’re talking about unskilled labor, then people would be better off looking elsewhere or staying put in their home countries.”
Unemployment in Iceland is at 7%, down from 9% at this time last year, and is expected to be even lower this winter.