Sweden: Int’l Students Are No Longer Required to Be Physically Present for 50% of Classes to Get a Residency Permit

The Migration Agency has revoked a rule that made it more difficult for international students to get a residence permit in Sweden if their university started teaching remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement released by the Swedish Migration Agency, students are no longer required to attend half of their classes in person in order for their residence permit to remain valid, Erudera.com reports. However, they still need to be in Sweden in order to complete their studies.

So far, one of the requirements for a student to obtain a residence permit has been to attend in-person classes. The move makes it easier for international students to get student permits while many universities are conducting classes remotely.

While universities in Sweden have been mostly providing classes remotely since the pandemic struck, international students have reported that numerous conflicting recommendations and requirements caused them stress.

Many of them that had to go back to home countries due to the pandemic could not return since they were not able to renew their permit, and at the same time, many universities required them to be present on campus at the beginning of the academic year.

Commenting on the move, the agency said at the time that they could offer permits only for students that conducted most of the teaching on campus and for students that were collaborative and tried to apply the rules promptly.

“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” the agency stated.

Furthermore, students can receive permits for university education starting on August 1, 2021, even if their course is set to start later on. Normally, a permit is effective only 14 days before the start of the semester.

“The purpose of the decision is to make it easier for higher education institutions to offer study preparation courses to their international students before the start of the semester,” the Migration Agency wrote.

Despite the inconveniences, Sweden has reported a 13 percent increase in international student admission during 2020.

According to the Special Investigator for internationalization of higher education, Agneta Bladh, attributed the high number of international students enrolled at Swedish universities in 2020 to the fact that “Swedish society has been open, with no strict lockdown.”

Moreover, the data released by the Swedish Council of Higher Education reveals that the number of international admissions in the country had peaked at 27,329 during the academic year 2020-21, compared to 2019-20 when there were 24,099 international admissions annually.

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