EMN Study: Integration of applicants for international protection in the labour market (2023)
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The length of the waiting period before applicants for international protection can access the labour market was the main topic of debate across European Migration Network (EMN) Member Countries. Those debates centred either on reducing the time period to promote quicker access or lengthening the time period to prevent abuse of the asylum system. Most EMN Member Countries have waiting periods of six months or less in place, with only three implementing the nine-month waiting period set out in the Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU).
All EMN Member Countries permit applicants for international protection to access the labour market. However, there are differences in how this access is granted.
The majority of EMN Member Countries require applicants for international protection to have either a work permit or a certificate before they can effectively access the labour market at the end of the waiting period.
Almost half of the countries requiring a work permit also conduct labour market tests. Some EMN Member Countries offer automatic access to the labour market once the requisite waiting period is met.
Most EMN Member Countries allow applicants for international protection to be self-employed, in most cases applying the same conditions and procedures as for regular employment.
None of the EMN Member Countries reported a specific policy solely focusing on the labour market integration of applicants for international protection. Most do not have a particular policy or strategy for incorporating third-country nationals into their labour market, but instead integrate this element into a broader policy or strategy on integration. A minority of countries then make specific mention of the integration of applicants for international protection in these policies/strategies.
Between 2017 and 2022, most EMN Member Countries implemented changes to their policy framework on integration of third-country nationals into the labour market, impacting applicants for international protection. Changes that specifically impacted applicants for international protection included measures to facilitate access to the labour market, such as broadening the range of sectors in which they can work and reducing the waiting period for labour market access. However, changes also saw the restriction of access to the labour market for all third-country nationals, such as higher language requirements.
Eleven EMN Member Countries identified good practices in integrating applicants for international protection in the labour market. The measures typically focus on vocational education, language training, and skills assessment.
In the majority of EMN Member Countries, applicants for international protection encountered practical challenges when attempting to access the labour market. In the vast majority of countries, the language barrier was reported as the main practical challenge, followed by difficulties in recognising qualifications. Applicants for international protection encountered practical difficulties in some countries due to the complexity and/or uncertainty of certain aspects of the administrative procedures to gain access to the labour market.
In some EMN Member Countries, applicants also encountered legislative challenges, such as requiring more documentation than stipulated in national legislation, and discrepancies in the wording defining the waiting period in national legislation.