Thousands of foreign students wait for news on Swedish residence permits

International students face an anxious wait to find out whether or not they can stay in Sweden this autumn, as some coronavirus measures may affect their right to a residence permit.

Thousands of foreign students wait for news on Swedish residence permits
Many international students have told The Local of the stress they are experiencing due to the corona pandemic. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Around 4,000 international students are currently waiting to find out whether or not they can keep their Swedish residence permit, reports Swedish public radio, SR. As The Local has previously reported, this all depends on whether or not – and how much of – their courses will be taught remotely.

Swedish law only permits the Migration Agency to give student residence permits if more than 50 percent of their course will be conducted on campus. The Swedish government in May told universities they could reopen to students, but many universities have warned that they may still need to continue teaching remotely, or at least a mix of on-campus and distance teaching.

It is still not entirely clear at some Swedish universities what the coming academic year will look like, and thousands of non-EU students may be rejected for a new residence permit or for a permit extension if they are unable to show that the majority of their courses will be taught on campus.

“The government would need to step in and give new directions to the Migration Agency so that no students fall between the cracks,” Patrik Höstmad, acting deputy principal of undergraduate courses at Chalmers University, told SR on Monday.

The Migration Agency states that it expects studies to be conducted on campus in spring, so if you intend to study a full academic year in Sweden, “you only need to have a small part of the teaching on campus during the autumn semester in order to be able to receive a permit for the entire time”.

It also advises students whose situation is currently unclear to wait as long as possible before they extend their residence permit, as long as they apply before the current permit expires. Its legal experts have previously said that they will “try to make as generous an assessment as possible”.

Many foreign students have told The Local of the stress they have experienced due to the coronavirus situation. We have shared some of their stories in these articles:

If you have a story to share, you are always welcome to get in touch with our editorial team at [email protected]. As a student, you may also be entitled to a discount on membership of The Local, including unlimited reading and an exclusive weekly newsletter. Read more here.

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.