Non-European students should make sure that their account shows not only 7.300 SEK available each month but also actual transactions while being in Sweden; otherwise they risk being deported from the country before they even finished their studies.
Syed Nazeer Ali is tired of telling his story. He has explained his situation so many times and it has not helped him yet. The student from Pakistan is at the end of his Master programme in Food Technology and Nutrition in Lund. He has nearly completed his thesis. He just wants to get things properly finished before he has to leave.
Raju Kakarlapudi has already booked his flight back to India. On the 12th of February the Swedish Migration Board will accompany him to Kastrup Airport to settle his departure. Officially he is not allowed to cross borders.
He and Syed have a lot in common. Both arrived in 2010 to study Food Technology and Nutrition at LTH. Both got visa permit for one year from their home countries and both got any extension denied by Sweden. Without having finished their studies.
Raju says: “When I applied for the visa in India I had to prove that I have enough money for my two years stay. Still the visa you get is just valid for one year.”
He did not expect to run in to problems later on. Hence he rarely maintained his Swedish bank account.
Syed explains: “I came with a lot of cash and when I met with friends from home they brought me money from my family.” In the first year Syed shared his apartment with a friend and gave him the rent in cash. He cooks his own food, rather than eating out.
Like Raju, Syed has no scholarship and is mainly supported by his parents. Both were very cautious with spending money.
Raju highlights: “I am a non-smoker and a non-drinker. In general I don´t have special things to spend money on.”
But when they applied for an extension, the Migration Office asked for the three month’s statement from their bank account of the period before their application. Syed had transferred the necessary money for the next 10 months on his account just before he applied for the extension. The three months before didn’t show many transactions. The case officer at the Migration Board asked for an explanation.
Syed told him: “I don´t need 7.300 SEK a month!”
His Visa extension was denied.
“But they have never considered it. As I kept the amount steady, it looked like I was not spending anything. Hence they thought it was not mine.” says Syed.
“The interpretation of the law is very strict.”
Officially the Migration Board asks for proof that the student is able to support himself. That means he can present a minimum of 7.300 SEK per month.
Anita Engström, expert for student visa application at the Migration Board, considers the demanded amount appropriate if one considers Swedish living costs. Regarding the requested bank account statement for the previous three months, she says:
“We have to make sure that the applicant really owns the money on the account and hasn’t simply borrowed it for the application.”
After Raju was rejected he handed in a new statement, this time his brother’s.
“I thought it would be better to show my brother´s account which has enough money and transactions every month and to provide a lawyer statement that he is supporting my studies.”
But the migration board rejected him again. This time for a second reason: the migration board does not accept sponsors.
In the middle of their studies Raju and Syed were confronted with the idea that they might have to leave Sweden soon without having achieved their goal. Syed says:
“I resigned all of my work life before I got here; I cannot go back without a degree. Not like this.”
He started to talk with his teachers and the External Relations at Lund University, LU. Everyone was concerned and wanted to help.
“I can provide all the evidence needed, showing that I successfully participated in the courses. That should be more important than money.”
Syed and Raju started to appeal first at their corresponding Migration Board, then at the court of Gothenburg and at last to the court of Stockholm. Every time they were rejected.
The time spent waiting for the decision was nerve-racking for both. Syed says: “You never know how much more time you have, it is hard to plan anything and you have to work under very stressful conditions.”
Seeing that the officials were not recognizing his case, Syed started to put all his effort in finishing his study as fast as possible.
“The students of my programme need at least six month to write their thesis.” He worked through the summer holiday, never took a break.
Raju wanted to go home for Christmas in 2011. He bought the tickets, but the Migration Board took too long to process his application. Shortly before his trip, his extension was denied. Without any visa he was unable to fly:
“I lost a lot of money.”
During the following month he appealed the decision.
“Each time I got a rejection I felt very depressed and lost. It crushed all my plans.”
He enjoys being in Sweden and studying at Lund University:
“I would have liked to stay and look for a lab position.”
But the court of Stockholm made it clear that he is no longer welcome in Sweden. The whole process, starting with the application and ending with the court decision, took one and a half year.
“The good thing is they took so long that I was actually able to finish my studies.”
Also Syed has to leave soon. His final denial letter states that he has to depart within four weeks. The letter came two weeks ago.
“I got a job-offer from a Swedish employer, but for now, I don´t have any right to apply for any type of visa here.”
Both cases are irritating; especially for the University. Marjorie Spangler from the Student Union of Social Sciences and Richard Stenelo from External Relation at LU consider the law unnecessary constrained. Marjorie says: “Lund University gains from every international student and Sweden actually complains about brain drain. That means they put money into the education of people who leave afterwards.”
At the end Syed and Raju managed to get their degrees, because they went through a long and exhausting legal process. But what about current and future international students?
Syed and Raju doubt that they are the only ones ones not maintaining their account.
Read also:“I don´t have any solution”
What do you think? Comment on Lundagard.net
The article might have been misleading in a sense that could suggest, non-European students have to spend 7.300 SEK each month.
But this is just the amount of money they should provide at their account for each month of their stay within Sweden from the beginning of their studies.
Having transactions is regarded as proof that the money is not just borrowed.