Visa Crunch

During the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden relaxes the guidelines for foreign students.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Swedish Migration Agency has dropped a law that made it more difficult for foreign students to obtain a residence permit if their university transferred classes online. A former condition that student permit applicants be present physically on campus for 50% of their classes has been withdrawn by the Swedish Migration Agency.

This implies that, unlike last year, non-EU students would have an easier time obtaining a student permit in 2021, considering that many universities have turned to virtual teaching due to the pandemic. Since mid-March last year, Swedish universities have mostly offered distance learning, and several foreign students have told The Local that the many contradictory recommendations and conditions have caused them a great amount of anxiety, with time differences and travel constraints creating difficulties for many who had to travel to their native countries when their permit could not be renewed. The Migration Agency stated at the time that they could issue permits as long as the majority of the instruction took place on-campus and that they would attempt to define the rules liberally.

However, foreign students will likely be relieved to learn that the 50 per cent in-person attendance requirement for student residence permits will be eliminated in 2021. The Migration Agency noted that “the starting point is still that you must stay in Sweden to complete your education” but “the reason for the loosening of the rules is that attendance on campus cannot be decisive for the agency’s assessment of residence permits for full-time students, because higher education institutions have adapted their activities to national advice and recommendations based on the current situation”. Only courses that will usually be held in person but have been transferred online due to the pandemic would be exempt.

According to the Migration Agency, the former requirement that student permit holders do not have to leave Sweden during the summer holidays while they are not studying to register for a new permit for the next semester will be maintained for 2021. Finally, beginning August 1st, 2021, a student permit for university education will be available, regardless of when the course begins. The permit is usually only valid for 14 days before the start of the semester.

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