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American student told to leave Sweden over money error: ‘I feel very frustrated’

An American student has been refused the right to stay in Sweden because she briefly transferred some of the money she had saved over to her parents' account in the US for safe-keeping.

American student told to leave Sweden over money error: 'I feel very frustrated'
Miranda Andersson is studying at Uppsala University. Photo: Private
Miranda Andersson, 24, who is studying for a Master's degree in Digital Media at Uppsala University, moved the money over the summer and left it in her parents' account for just two months, but has now been informed by Sweden's Migration Agency that she must leave the country. 
 
The reason? Her account in Sweden briefly dropped below the 80,640 kronor ($10,126) foreign students from outside the EU need to have in their accounts to get residency. 
 
“I feel very frustrated,” Andersson told The Local. “It's very aggravating to deal with with school and everything going on at the same time. I wanted to study and get my degree and it feels that they don't want me to do that.” 
 
She said that she had believed that it was enough to have the required funds available. 
 
“I showed them that I can support myself for the whole year, but they said 'you can't do that, you can't just take money out and put it back in',” Andersson said.
 
The money was in her account at the time she applied for residency, and was returned to it as soon as she realized her error.
 
“They wanted me to keep the money in my account at all times. I just misunderstood that. When I discovered it, I just put the money back into my account.”  
 
Andersson said that had initially wanted to keep the money in my parents’ account for safekeeping, but then realized that she needed to keep her living funds in her own account. 
 
“I sold my car in August, and they sold it on my behalf – so that's where the final money came from. All the money had been mine all along, I just didn't want to keep that large an amount of money in my account all at once.” 
 
 
But the Migration Agency insists sufficient funds must be in an account under the name of the applicant throughout the period of residency. 
 
“The applicant should show that she has money for the entire time she is applying for a residency permit,” said David Lindstrand, the agency's legal expert. “You should have the money in a named account over the entire period.” 
 
Lindstrand said that the agency grants 90 percent of residency applications from students, and said it was possible that the Migration Court could take a more lenient view. 
 
Andersson received her decision in November, and has already had one appeal in December. She has now sent it to the Migration Court and expects a decision within between six to twelve months. 
 
“She's has appealed the decision, so we should wait and see what the Migration Court rules.” 
 
Andersson is worried that if the court rules early, she might be forced to leave Sweden before she graduates in June, writing her thesis from outside the country. 
 
But a greater worry is that it might close off her plans to work in Sweden after graduation. 
 
Andersson's father comes from the Swedish community in Minnesota. 
 
“My father's side is all Swedish ancestry. From Småland, and they're very proud of it. My father came here to teach business English back in the 1970s and learn Swedish as well, so he kind of inspired me to go abroad in my early 20s and get my degree.” 
 
She now lives with her Swedish boyfriend, speaks fluent Swedish and has a job in PR. 
 
“My initial plan was just to come for education, but now it's changed because I've really enjoyed my time here and feel at home,” she said. “I would really like to stay here. We would really like to live together in Stockholm.”
For members

WORK PERMITS

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Many foreigners living in Sweden need to have a residence permit to live in the country legally. Permits are issued for two years at a time and can be renewed 30 days before expiry, at the earliest. But with waiting times exceeding 8 months for many applicants, just what are your rights while you wait to hear back?

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Can I keep working in Sweden?

It depends. If you have a residence permit which allows you to work in Sweden, have held that residence permit for at least six months and apply for an extension before your old permit expires, you still have the right to work in Sweden while you wait for the Migration Agency to make a decision on your permit application.

You can apply for a new residence permit 30 days before your old permit expires, at the earliest, and you can’t get a new residence permit before your old one has run out.

Can I leave Sweden?

Technically you can, but it might not be a good idea. This is due to the fact that if you leave Sweden after your residence permit has expired, it can be difficult to enter Sweden again before your new permit is granted, even if you can prove that you’ve applied for a new one.

In the worst-case scenario, you could be denied entry to Sweden at the border and forced to wait in another country until your new residence permit is granted. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can, in some cases, apply for a national visa allowing you to re-enter Sweden. These are only granted under exceptional circumstances, and must be applied for at a Swedish embassy or general consulate in the country you are staying in. If you are not granted a national visa to re-enter Sweden, you can’t appeal the decision, meaning you’ll have to wait until your residence permit is approved before you can re-enter Sweden.

The Migration Agency writes on its website that you should only leave Sweden while your application is being processed “in exceptional cases, and if you really have to”.

It lists some examples of exceptional cases as “sudden illness, death in the family or important work-related assignments”, adding that you may need to provide proof of your reason for travelling to the embassy when you apply for a national visa to re-enter Sweden.

What if I come from a visa-free country?

If you come from a visa-free country, you are able to re-enter Sweden without needing a visa if you have a valid residence permit or are waiting for your residence permit to be extended.

According to the Migration Agency, “if an individual has submitted their extension application in time (before the earlier permit ran out), they also have the right to live and work in Sweden until a decision is made on the application”.

It is important that you are able document this in some way, as visa-free non-EU citizens entering Schengen are only allowed to stay in the bloc for 90 days out of every 180 before they require a visa, unless they can document that they have the right to live in a Schengen country, for example via a residence permit or proof that they have applied for an extension to their residence permit.

If you are a member of this group and you stay in Schengen for longer than 90 days without a visa, a valid residence permit, or proof that you are waiting for an extension on your residence permit, you could be labelled an “overstayer”, which can cause issues entering other countries, as well as applying for a visa or residence permit in the future.

The Migration Agency told The Local that “a visa-free person’s allowance of visa-free days is not used up during the period in which the extension permit is being processed”.

“However, an extension application usually requires the individual to be located in Sweden,” the Agency wrote. “Travelling abroad can, in some cases, have an effect on the decision whether to extend a residence permit or not, in a way which is negative for the applicant, but this decision is made on an individual case basis (it’s not possible to say a general rule).”

“The right to travel into the Schengen area for short visits is not affected, as long as the person still has visa-free days left.”

Does this apply to me if I have a permanent residence permit?

No. This only applies to people in Sweden holding temporary residence permits. If you have a permanent residence permit and your residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort or UT-kort) expires, you just need to book an appointment at the Migration Agency to have your picture and fingerprints taken for a new card.

How long is the processing time for residence permit renewals?

It varies. For people renewing a residence permit to live with someone in Sweden, for example, the Migration Agency states that 75 percent of recent cases received an answer within eight months.

For work permit extensions, it varies. In some branches, 75 percent of applicants received a response after 17 months, others only had to wait five.

This means that some people waiting to extend their residence permits could be discouraged from leaving Sweden for almost a year and a half, unless they are facing “exceptional circumstances”.

You can see how long it is likely to take in your case here.

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