Home Travel & Adventure Working in EU/EEA Without a Permit? Member States Unveil Consequences and Regulations

Working in EU/EEA Without a Permit? Member States Unveil Consequences and Regulations


Working in the European Union/European Economic Area without a work permit is unlawful, and this practice can have severe consequences for foreigners.

Underscoring the risks associated with unauthorised employment, the EU/EEA countries have said that strict measures apply for both unauthorised foreign workers and employers.

These measures include deportation and a ban from re-entering the EU, along with potential fines and imprisonment depending on the severity of the breach.

To give a better picture of the risks associated with working without a work permit in the EU/EEA countries and discourage people from pursuing this path, SchengenVisaInfo has contacted several states and shares information on some of the risks below.

You Risk of Being Deported & Banned if You Work Illegally, EU/EEA Countries Warn

The EU/EEA countries have warned of the strict measures they apply against those who work on the so-called “black market”.

Norway said for SchengenVisaInfo that working in the country without a work permit as a non-EU/EEA national leads to expulsion and future entry ban from both Norway and the Schengen/EU countries.

In addition, the Norwegian authorities stressed that those who breach the rules are registered in the Schengen Information System, which is accessed by all the member states to check information on certain individuals.

Engaging in work in Norway without a valid work permit will lead to a decision to leave the country and may lead to expulsion and future entry prohibition from both Norway as well as the Schengen/EU-area through registration in the Schengen Information System.

Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion

Regarding the duration of the entry ban, the Ministry noted that the ban can be imposed for some years or permanently. The same highlighted that based on the severity of the breach, a fine or imprisonment of up to six months or both may be imposed.

Switzerland has also warned of stringent rules against illegal workers. The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration said that foreign nationals who stay and work in the country without the required permit are subject to removal and liable to imprisonment for up to one year.

In addition, the country stressed that a five-year entry ban is imposed against those who fail to leave the country within the given deadline after receiving an order to leave.

Hungary, Finland, and Sweden also confirmed that strict rules apply against people working without permits.

Hungary told SchengenVisaInfo that anyone found working without a permit is expelled and banned from entering the country.

From an immigration point of view, the possible legal consequence is an expulsion order.

Hungarian National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing

Finland also highlighted that foreigners found working illegally in the country risk being fined and ordered to leave the country, as well as receiving an entry ban.

Similarly, Sweden said that one is banned from entering the country if found working without proper documentation.

There are different kinds of penalties. It all depends on what crimes and lawbreaking one person has committed. However, mostly ends with one being banned from Schengen, but other procedures can be measured.

Swedish Migration Agency

Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Netherlands confirmed that they apply the same rules, too, for those found working without a permit. They all impose a ban, and in certain cases, fines and imprisonment may be imposed.

In line with the EU rules, if a person is banned by a Schengen Member State, they are automatically prohibited from entering the other nations that are part of the area.

These Are Penalties Employers Face for Hiring Someone Without Proper Authorisation

EU employers who hire foreigners without proper authorisation, in addition to foreign nationals working without permits, are also subject to penalties and consequences.

Asked about the legal actions taken against employers who hire individuals without the proper permits, Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment told SchengenVisaInfo that the employer risks criminal sanctions.

According to the latter, Finnish employers hiring third-country nationals who are staying irregularly in Finland are fined, and they may be prevented from hiring workers from abroad.

Similarly, Slovenia disclosed that the country applies heavy fines against employers hiring people who are staying and working in the country without a permit.

The Slovenian Ministry of Labour said that an employer is fined from €5,000 to €26,000 when unlawfully employing a national of a third country who does not hold proper authorisation.

The Ministry further noted that a Slovenian employer who employs a third-country national who is unlawfully staying in the country must pay all obligations for the work performed and “must also pay all costs of sending the outstanding payments to the country to which the third-country national has returned or has been returned.”

To reside and work in the Republic of Slovenia, third-country nationals need only one permit that covers both residence and employment.

Norway also shared the strict measures that the country takes against employers hiring individuals without a permit.

The Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion emphasised that businesses found employing workers without a valid work permit are subject to fines.

Moreover, the authority noted that in serious cases, the company’s managers may be subject to prison sentences, and the business may be ordered to stop all its operations.

Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland also stated that they impose heavy penalties on employers, with the latter saying that employers who breach the rules may have their financial assistance reduced for a period of up to five years.

Former Unauthorised Workers Warn of Poor Conditions & Exploitation

Former unauthorised workers who took up jobs in the EU have said that it is not worth risking a ban and have warned of poor conditions and exploitation.

Since workers who do not hold a work permit are not given a work contract or registered as workers, they usually do not get paid enough. In certain cases, they are also required to work more than eight hours per day.

A third-country national, who for confidential reasons will be referred to as Joe, said that he entered the EU on a tourist visa for the purpose of working.

As Joe revealed, he worked in the construction industry, but due to his “irregular” situation, he fell victim to poor terms of employment and exploitation.

I was asked to work more than eight hours per day and was paid less compared to others. However, I could not say no due to my situation as I feared I would get reported by the employer and not permitted to enter EU again or apply for another visa.


For these reasons, Joe decided to return to his home country before exceeding the 90/180-day period so he could apply for a visa again.

Another person who entered Switzerland on a tourist Schengen visa to work in the country disclosed for SchengenVisaInfo that the pay and living conditions were very poor, with four to five people living in the same apartment.

He also said that he would not risk doing this again and revealed that he has now decided to apply for a work visa for Germany and thus enter the country for work purposes lawfully.

EU/EEA countries are already aware of the poor pay and working conditions. They have warned that employees who work without a valid work permit have a greater risk of being exposed to work-related crime.

This is because employers who hire people without valid work permits also tend to breach other laws that are related to pay and working conditions.

Non-EU Nationals Without Permit Mainly Work in Building & Construction Industry

A couple of EU Member States have revealed that there are some industries in which employment of foreign nationals without proper authorisation is more common.

The Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion disclosed for SchengenVisaInfo that foreigners without valid work permits mainly work in industries that heavily rely on manual labour.

This includes the building and construction industry and the cleaning services industry.

Labour-intensive industries with a high proportion of unskilled workers and where subcontractors are used are particularly vulnerable. This particularly applies to the building and construction industry, as well as cleaning services.

Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion

Similarly, the Netherlands disclosed that similar patterns are prevalent in the country, too.

The Netherlands’ Labour Inspectorate spokesperson said that to the authorities’ knowledge, work without a permit is more common in the construction and industrial sector, the cleaning industry, as well as the transport and agricultural sector.

Switzerland also acknowledged the same tendency, with the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration saying that they carry out more frequent inspections on the hospitality, retail, and construction industries as they are more prone to having workers without permits.

In recent years, the focus of inspections has been on the hospitality, retail and construction industries.

Swiss State Secretariat for Migration

SchengenVisaInfo.com has required other countries to share information on the matter, too. However, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, they have decided not to disclose sectors in which the employment of illegal workers is more common.

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