First steps

The Directorate of Labour, VMST, participates in the collaboration to provide equal reception conditions for all refugees that have been granted asylum in Iceland. Once asylum has been granted a refugee can be referred to VMST by their case worker from the local service center. Shortly after receiving the referral a counsellor at VMST sends out an invitation for an interview. The interviews are conducted with the help of an interpreter if necessary. 

All questions regarding the services provided to refugees by VMST can be sent to

Are you an employer looking to hire refugees?

Please send us an email to and we will contact you.

Recruitment grants for refugees

Refugees are generally entitled to a recruitment grant from their municipality. The Directorate of Labour is responsible for introducing this option to refugees and facilitating the contracts between companies, employees, and the municipalities.

The recruitment grant pays for a part of the salary of the employee for up to 6 months, while the employee is learning and being trained in the job. The company pays a full salary according to contract and afterwards sends an electronic invoice to the municipality of the employee.

The grant is paid in accordance with the employment ratio and the amount varies between municipalities.

A condition for receiving a recruitment grant is increasing the number of employees, and the company has to have at least one employee on their payroll before hiring a refugee with a recruitment grant. The company should have no debt regarding salary related fees and public fees, such as pension fund premiums, labour union fees and social insurance taxes.

Any further questions regarding recruitment grants can be directed to

Job counselling for refugees

The counsellors at the Directorate of Labour help refugees with the job search process. This can include help with registering to job search platforms, creating a CV, and providing information regarding worker rights and the labour market. Learning Icelandic and attending other courses is also an important part of staying active and making the most of the time available during unemployment.

Education and courses

One of the roles of the Directorate of Labour is to ensure the provision of Icelandic lessons and social education to adult refugees who have recently been granted asylum.

Counsellors can assist with signing up for Icelandic courses that are taught by the various education and language centers in Iceland. 

VMST has been developing an extensive course in social education in collaboration with Mímir símenntun. This course is available for all refugees and individuals can sign up with the assistance of their counsellor.

Recruitment of refugees from Ukraine

Refugees from Ukraine need to be issued a work permit to be allowed to work in Iceland, as they are issued a residence permit on the basis of humanitarian grounds. 

An employer who intends to employ a refugee from Ukraine must therefore apply for a work permit and the permit must be approved before an employee can start work. 

Necessary documents with the application for a new work permit for an employee from Ukraine: 

  1. Original application for a temporary work permit due to special circumstances 
  2. Employment contract between a foreign national and employer. 
  3. The relevant labour union must provide an opinion on the application (Field IV on the application form) unless the labour union is an EFLING trade union. In such cases, the directorate shall obtain the opinion. 
       a)Opinions are obtained by contacting the relevant labour union and submitting the application for a work permit and a copy of the employment contract. 
  4. The application and employment contract must be signed by both the employee and the employer. 

Where should the application for a work permit be submitted? 

Applications must be submitted to the nearest Directorate of Labor service center or to The Directorate of Immigration. If the recruitment takes place via the The Directorate of Labour‘s services, it is preferable that the application is submitted there. 

Further information can be found here. 

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