The number of foreign residents has increased to 43,726 in early November despite the slowing economy, according to new data from the National Registry.
This marks a 15.6% increase from December last year. Poles remain the largest immigrant group, with over 19,000 individuals, an increase of 2,000. They make up more than 40% of the immigrant population. Lithuanians make up the next largest group at 4,036, an increase of 9.2%.
The growth in tourist numbers is levelling off, sending tremors through the industry, particularly airlines. However, the Central Bank of Iceland is expecting strong growth for the year. The construction industry has grown considerably, and those companies are still building the large hotels needed to meet existing demand, in addition to thousands of apartments.
Immigrants from Europe make up a large majority of the total due to Iceland’s membership in the European Economic Area. Citizens of EU/EEA states have freedom of movement and labour. Immigrants that come from outside Europe have to meet onerous standards and navigate a notoriously slow bureaucracy.
For these reasons, companies find it much easier to hire Europeans than to sponsor a person from somewhere else. Those workers who do find a sponsor are often at their mercy, and losing a job often leads to losing legal residency status.