Friday, April 24, 2009

Loopholes in the Swedish Immigration System

All countries in the world have conditions that are enforced in order to control the tide emigrants that want to immigrate into yours. Generally these policies work quite well having been developed over many years and the list of loopholes is for the most part nonexistent. One interesting development I have noticed here in Sweden is that the system has one major and glaring loophole.

The red line is people coming into Sweden, and the blue is people leaving over the past 150 years. Click for larger Image.

The loophole involves giving people from any country in the world outside the EU to apply as an international masters student in Sweden thereby being granted an automatic 2 year uppehållstillstånd or Residence Permit on the grounds of studying in Sweden. Now this in itself is nothing exciting, many countries such as mine (Canada) have similar programs in place so that there can be some knowledge sharing occurring between those countries which would be classified as developed to those that are perhaps not classified as such.

The breakdown is not due to migrationsverket (The Migration Authority), but due to the schools in Sweden and how the Social system funds the same. For each international masters student and local students that successfully complete a course in Sweden the University or Högskolan where that students graduates from receives a bidrag (benefit payment) from the government. Think about that for a second: If a course has a 95% pass rate and you have the opportunity to enrol an extra 100 students in the class, this means that the educators will receive payment from the Swedish government for an additional 95 students passing the class.

Ok, what does this all mean?

*All higher education centers in Sweden will want to enrol as many students as possible*

Now, with this permit to study the student can now enter Sweden legally and stay for the duration of their studies but what if the goal of this student is not so much to study but to emigrate away from their home land where opportunities are limited?

They say it’s quite difficult to get a job in Sweden, firstly it’s costly for a company to hire a worker, and secondly there is generally a requirement for fluent conversational Swedish skills. If one has learned English as their second language already, interacting and communicating in yet another language fluently takes quite a bit of work BUT, there are companies here in Sweden that work only in English.

One such company is Marcus Evans, an Events company. They will hire anyone that speaks even a glimmer of English. And unless you make any sales, your guaranteed minimum wage is less than the cost of a student room in Stockholm which means that the company pretty much gets your services for free. Even I was employed by this company for exactly 1 week. I couldn’t morally agree with their modus operandi to which I was exposed during their 3 day training and left but, I do remember someone in my training group. He was an international master’s student from India. He had claimed that he completed his master’s course and was now looking for work in Sweden after having only been in Sweden 6 months. Of course any master’s course in Sweden runs for a minimum of 18 months so this person was lying.

(BACKGROUND: A person NOT from the EU is granted a visa to stay in Sweden for 1 year at a time, to receive the student study extension they must demonstrate the ability to further provide for themselves for the continuing year as well as having shown progress in their studies. Of course there is another type of visa one can obtain once this expires, a worker visa which is granted 2 years at a time and the receiver is bound to the company the visa is issued to.)

And finally we get to the end of the loophole. International student gets into Sweden, start classes, quits said classes and are able to find a job with an 'English speaking' company who vouches for them and enables the person to get a permit based on work.

What is not talked about is that typically, to afford the high cost of living in Sweden, these people must share cramped accommodations and live far from the city all but still earning more for their time then they might be able to do in their home countries. Generally, these people find difficulty integrating into the Swedish culture, learning the language, and therefore are segregated from society as a whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment