Demand actions for immigrants' equality in Iceland

Demand actions for immigrants' equality in Iceland

September 15, 2022
Signatures: 683Next Goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

To whom it may concern,

We, writing these words, are a group of immigrant workers living in Iceland.

The following text is written in English as opposed to Icelandic, as English is a common shared language between us. It, thus, puts us at the same level as those in power. Whereas, if we were speaking in Icelandic, it would put us at a disadvantage.

We come from different backgrounds, are of different ages and ethnicities, and are in various stages of residency in Iceland or of claiming citizenship.

We all have in common that we came to Iceland, call this country our home, and are all despairing at the treatment of ourselves and our fellow immigrants by a government that claims to want us here and proclaims that it values our contributions to society.

Sadly, our collective lived experiences throw a dark cloud over that idea.

As a group, we feel entirely disposable and overlooked. We are valued only for as long as we can generate wealth for others, and the moment we are seen as a burden or an eyesore to society, or whenever a scapegoat is needed, we are then told that we should go back to where we came from.

At present, people moving to Iceland are being faced with even more hurdles and obstacles to struggle through, ever more complex and onerous application processes, and a system which does absolutely nothing to facilitate a smooth transition to living and working in Iceland.

The Icelandic government has stated that in the next few years, 7000 new workers will need to come to Iceland in order to fill jobs and keep society running. The Icelandic government, therefore, needs to put measures in place for these immigrants (and those of us already living here) in order to help them integrate into society, learn the language, and feel welcomed and wanted. If not, then the Icelandic government needs to state loudly and clearly that they see immigrants as nothing more than disposable labour - not worth the time, effort or money to help to integrate and just something to be used up, disposed of, driven out or dumped once they have served their purpose.

What we have included in this letter are three (3) main demands which would go a long way towards making immigrants' lives and integration to living in Iceland immensely easier, and encouraging people who move here to stay for the long term, eventually becoming Icelandic citizens if they so choose."

These are demands which will not only go  a long way towards helping immigrants improve their quality of life, but they will also, in the long run, benefit Icelandic society at large by encouraging interculturalism and making it easier for immigrants to bring their skills and experience to the country:

1. Citizenship

Bring the process for claiming Icelandic citizenship in line with other Nordic countries, particularly Sweden. (5 years until claiming citizenship, or 3 years if having lived with a Swedish citizen (doesn’t have to be a spouse)

Remove punishments which set back application status (having claimed government aid, having been outside of Iceland for a period of time, speeding/traffic tickets). This would also include non-serious offences.

By definition, immigrants to Iceland will have connections overseas and 7 years is a very long time with which to expect for circumstances not to occur in which someone may need to leave the country for a period of time. (Deaths in the family, etc.) With every intention of returning to Iceland, at which point their citizenship application will be reset.

In addition to this, proof of solvency should be removed from the application process. A tax certificate showing that an individual has been paying taxes for the time they resided in Iceland should be enough.

Transparency during the application process should also be improved as there is currently no way to track the status of applications once they have been submitted.

2. Kennitala

Currently, an individual is not able to apply for a kennitala themselves electronically, instead, it must be done by a company on the individual’s behalf.

This will discourage immigrant workers from coming to live and work in Iceland.

In addition, changing this process will help to minimise abuse by employers as the worker will not be held hostage by an employer for the sake of a kennitala. In addition, proof of financial solvency needs to be lifted as part of applying for a kennitala, as this is exclusionary to people who want to move to Iceland but are not as wealthy or privileged as others.

3. Learning Icelandic

Currently, for immigrants moving to Iceland, there is no way to begin to learn Icelandic without paying for expensive language schools, and those people would also not be able to claim any of the costs back through unions until they are full members, which can often only be after 6 months of paying union dues, or longer.

There also needs to be a language program which is heavily subsidised or free at the point of service for immigrants to be able to learn Icelandic immediately from when they arrive. At least, level one (1) and two (2) courses are necessary in order to allow immigrants to become conversational. By doing this, it will also encourage immigrants to stay in Iceland and not be seen as disposable.

Additionally, companies need to be encouraged and incentivized to teach their immigrant workers Icelandic during working hours through practical lessons (verkleg kennsla).

These three (3) points are the main issues which we wish to address at the outset but are only a starting point as we move forward with our struggle toward equality and equity for immigrants living in Iceland

We ask people to sign the petition if they support our struggle and agree that fighting for a better quality of life for immigrants is essential and beneficial for everyone.

Lastly, as much as this is a letter to the Icelandic government, it is also a letter to other immigrants in Iceland who might be struggling. If you, reading these words, agree with what we have written and feel like you want to be a part of this movement or wish to help in any way, then we encourage you to contact us at the following email


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Signatures: 683Next Goal: 1,000
Support now