One Year On: 800 Ukrainians Granted Work Permits in Iceland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Over 800 Ukrainian refugees have received work permits in Iceland since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last year, an article on the government’s website notes. Today marks one year since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainians entered the labour market successfully

The Icelandic government has successfully helped Ukrainian refugees integrate into the labour market, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. Over the past year, nearly 2,600 Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed to Iceland, with around 1,900 between the ages of 18 and 67, as reported on the government’s website.

“Based on the number of work permits issued, it can be assumed that more than 42% of refugees have already secured employment. However, it is important to note that some have only recently arrived and require time to settle before finding work,” the press release reads.

The first refugees arrived in Iceland from Ukraine in February of last year, with over 500 people fleeing the country in the following month. Since then, approximately 200 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Iceland each month, with residency permits granted on humanitarian grounds.

“Hard workers” who’ve been well received

The majority of work permits issued for Ukrainian refugees in Iceland are for jobs in cleaning and laundry, as well as various service roles in homes and restaurants. Some have also secured employment in the construction and fishing industries.

“We see that most people from Ukraine who come to us want to enter the labour market as soon as possible and that they put a lot of effort into finding a job. Many of them are willing to accept whatever’s available, despite their high level of education and work experience. They report feeling welcomed, safe, and positively received in Iceland,” Guðlaug Hrönn Pétursdóttir, head of the refugee department at the Directorate of Labour, which provides special services (including Icelandic lessons) to refugees who are looking for employment.

Employers in Iceland have expressed satisfaction with Ukrainian workers, who are known to work hard. In 2022, the Directorate of Labour provided community education to 395 Ukrainians and Icelandic lessons to 419 refugees.