32 international students had their tuitions refunded because of delayed residence permits. There is nothing international students can do to speed up the application process.
The students are furious, External Relations at Lund University is highly displeased and the Migration Agency is concerned.
32 students at Lund University have demanded repaid tuition fees this autumn. More than 50 have been in contact with External Relations saying that their permit has been delayed, most of which are yet to receive a decision.
“32 students had their tuition fee repaid because their permit was delayed too much and one was refused extension because they hadn’t spent enough money in Sweden, it’s absurd,” says Richard Stenelo Head of Department at External Relations at Lund University.
Despite the fact that a first time residence permit should take one to two months to get, 29 students had to wait all autumn and had still not received a permit by December 19th.
Applying for a residence permit can be a frustrating experience. Allisa Lindo, a student at Lund University from the US, had to wait until mid-November 2016 before receiving a renewed permit although she applied well in time. Lindo studies her second year Master programme in Media and Communication and had to stay in Sweden to wait for the permit.
“It was really annoying and turned out to be really stressful because I had some travel plans and I had to cancel a trip to Scotland to meet up with some friends.”
She still regards herself as lucky though. Allisa Lindo did not get any refunding for the cancelled Scotland visit, but she could study and got her residence permit in time to return to her family for Christmas.
Allisa Lindo also had problems getting in contact with the Migration Agency. She says that the communication with the Migration Agency was minimal.
“I got kind of sick of it and tried to contact them. But the only way you can contact them is by filling out a form on the website of the migration office,” she says.
When she heard that there is a special department for international students at the Migration Agency she was shocked.
“I don’t know how true that is,” she says. “I’m a bit dumbfounded, I don’t know what to make of the separation they claim to have because it doesn’t seem to exist on our side of the equation.”
The Migration Agency’s view is a bit different. Markus Filipsson, Process Manager at the Migration Agency, refers to the contact services available on the Migration Agency’s website. He also explains why Allisa Lindo had to wait longer than usual.
“Last year we frequently asked the Embassies to conduct interviews with applicants to investigate the study purpose,” he says.
If indications are found that the student’s purpose may not be studying first time applying for a permit, it needs to be investigated and this delays all applications.
“It’s hard to say but probably the situation will be unchanged, but we are working on it,” Markus Filipsson says. “The waiting time is currently two to four months.”
However, Markus Filipsson is not satisfied. He tells that the Migration Agency is always working on improving and optimizing the application process.
“We have a continuous dialogue with the universities and the 16th of January we changed the PhD study permits from one to two years.
There is not much, however, that students like Allisa Lindo, can do. An action plan is under the making by External Relations at Lund, but at the moment there is nothing External Relations can do to affect the Migration Agency.