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Working and volunteering in Iceland as an asylum seeker

Can I work while waiting for a decision on my asylum application?

Persons seeking international protection in Iceland may apply for a temporary work permit while their application is being processed.

To be able to submit your application, an asylum seeker must fulfill certain conditions, which are (according to the Act on Foreigners No. 80/2016):

  1. The applicant has had its first interview,
  2. There is no doubt as to the identity of the applicant,
  3. No reasons exist for the expulsion of the applicant,
  4. No other state has been asked to re-admit the applicant (as per para 1 of Art. 36),
  5. The applicant has provided information and has been cooperative in resolving his/her case.

In the case of persons which cases are been examined as Dublin or Status, a temporary work permit application may be submitted after 90 days of the date of the asylum application.

Important to keep in mind. If you are an asylum seeker, to be able to submit a temporary work permit application you must first find a job and be able to find your own accommodation. Once a permit is granted, you will no longer be able to reside in the accommodation provided by the Directorate of Immigration or the Social Services. Immigration will also stop delivering the weekly allowance.

Receiving a temporary work permit has no impact in the processing or decision of your asylum application. If you receive a final negative decision from the Directorate of Immigration, this decision stands and you will be asked to leave the country, regardless of the expiry date of your permit.

For further information and how to submit a temporary work permit for asylum seeker click here.

Can I volunteer while waiting for a decision on my asylum application?

It is possible to volunteer for the Red Cross while you wait for your asylum application to be processed. Approach a Red Cross staff person during Open Interview Hours or during any Red Cross activity and ask for information on how to become a Red Cross community volunteer.

Be aware that to work without pay is not legal in Iceland. Only some organizations such as the Red Cross are allowed to recruit volunteers.