Last month Lundagård reported about the struggles of international students from outside the EU to get their residence permit extended in time. Now the responsible body, the Migration Agency, gives its view on the situation.
The last issue of Lundagård featured the two master’s students Mochamad Ridwan from Indonesia and Efe Doğuş Selvi from Turkey. Both had stayed in Sweden for over a year but had very late replies from the Migration Agency when they tried to get their permits extended.
This caused problems for both of them. For Mochamad Ridwan it meant that he could not leave Sweden for several months as he probably would not have been able to enter it again. For Efe Doğuş Selvi the problem was the opposite. He was not able to get back into Sweden in time for the spring term, after having spent the fall in the USA for an internship.
In a response, Viktor Larsson, case officer at the Migration Agency, acknowledge that long waiting times do exists:
“It happens that students applying for an extension of their residence permit have to wait a few months. One explanation to this is that our student units are most pressured during the start of the semester. Our priority is then to provide students coming to Sweden and who seek right of residence for the first time with a decision before the semester starts. They are given priority as we think that students that already reside in Sweden and apply for an extension is not in as much need to get a quick response. But we examine every case individually, which can result in different processing times.”
According to Viktor Larsson, a delay can also be caused by an incomplete application.
“When we need to complete incomplete applications, which unfortunately is extremely common, the processing time can become longer than necessary. We recommend students to contact their study program at an early date in order to have the necessary documents ready.”
Richard Stenelo is the International Director at the Division of External relations and he is critiqual of the Migration Agency:
“Of course it is logical that applications get delayed when they are incomplete. But now there is in general a way too long processing time for permits. I have just corresponded with the Migration Agency by e-mail concerning a student that applied in August and still hasn’t had a reply.”
He is also critiqual of the Agency’s decision not to prioritize the applicants that are already residing in Sweden:
“That means that they don’t understand the perspective of living in the South of Sweden. Copenhagen is very close and more generally students might have to travel around to be able to carry out their work. An easier way to prolong a residence permit really has got to be found”.
Last month, Richard Stenelo told Lundagård that the university is working on several levels to address the problems. However so far there have been no new developments.
Later this spring, the university will address these questions in the Forum for Internationalization, a group in which the Swedish authorities and other organizations work together to improve the internationalization of Swedish higher education.
Efe Doğuş Selvi is not impressed by the Migration Agency’s explanation:
“I am pretty sure that my documents were complete. Moreover, when I called them to inquire, they specifically indicated that they didn’t have the chance to examine my case yet. I am a Lund University student and they don’t have the right to do this.”
Mochamad Ridwan is neither convinced: “I think that it is funny: when you apply online, you can’t even continue to the next step if your documents are incomplete. And if the application is incomplete, couldn’t they inform the student of that within a few weeks? These kinds of cases have existed for several years and they happen to many students.”
Lundagård has only received written answers from the Migration Agency, as they don’t answer all interview requests due to a high workload.