Work Visa Agreements between EU and Third Countries Could Reduce Asylum Applications

| Press release

The ifo Institute proposes work visa agreements between the EU and safe third countries as a way to reduce the number of asylum applications and irregular immigration. “This would enable legal and controlled immigration. One reason the European asylum system is overloaded is the lack of opportunities to enter the EU legally. Especially for low-skilled people, the chances of obtaining work visas in Europe are vanishingly small,” says Panu Poutvaara, Director of the ifo Center for International Institutional Comparisons and Migration Research.  

For example, many asylum seekers who come from Turkey have little prospect of being permitted to stay, and these people could benefit from such an agreement, says Poutvaara. Citizens of countries that conclude such an agreement with the EU would be able to apply for a visa to work in the EU regardless of their qualifications. Within this framework, work visas could also be issued for a limited period. They could also be restricted so that visa holders do not have access to social benefits. The proposal corresponds to the Western Balkans agreement that Germany concluded with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia in 2016.

“Immigrants could apply for a work visa and enter the EU legally without having to pay smugglers or make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. This would also be beneficial for the EU, as it would reduce the cost of asylum applications, destroy the business of people smugglers, and create more legal employment,” says Yvonne Giesing, research associate at the ifo Center for International Institutional Comparisons and Migration Research.