Greece's Parliament approved on Tuesday a bill that foresees granting three-year residence and work permits to some 30,000 undocumented migrants in an effort to address the labor shortage in certain sectors of the economy, reported Xinhua.
The bill passed with 262 votes in the 300-member Parliament, with 295 deputies present. It was also supported by the opposition parties, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
In response to critics who claimed that the country is sending a wrong message regarding irregular migration, the government clarified that this is a one-off scheme that concerns a limited number of people to meet their needs.
Eligible for the three-year permit are individuals who entered the country illegally, had lived and worked in Greece undeclared in a "grey zone" for at least three years until Nov. 30, 2023, and have a job offer from an employer in Greece.
The government estimates that about 30,000 people from non-European Union countries meet the criteria out of the approximately 300,000 undocumented migrants currently living in Greece.
The country has been at the forefront of a refugee-migrant crisis since 2015. More than a million people have entered Greece illegally since then, with most of them continuing their perilous journey to other European destinations.
Some of those who stayed in Greece undocumented have been working undeclared in jobs which Greeks are declining, mainly in the agriculture and tourism sectors.
During the Greek debt crisis and the pandemic, many migrants left Greece, returned to their countries of origin or sought better conditions in other countries. As a result, the country has been facing a severe labor shortage. Greece is short of about 80,000 farmhands and nearly the same number in the tourism industry, according to representatives of the two sectors.