* Sweden’s parliament also relaxes labour immigration rules
By Nauman Tasleem
LAHORE: The Swedish government welcomes students and offers them a lot of opportunities, said Nawal Atmé, Swedish Embassy first secretary to migration attaché in Pakistan.
Talking to Daily Times, she said education in Sweden was free and students had to only pay their boarding and lodging expenses.
Atmé has served in several countries and this is her second tenure in Pakistan. In her previous tenure, she also worked for the rehabilitation of the October 8, 2005, earthquake victims and supervised the Swedish Refugee Board – seconded to United Nations High Commission for Refugees. “According to Migration Board rules, a student must have 7,300 CHF (Rs 70,640) a month,” she said, adding that the board decided to grant residence permit to students.
She said students, instead of contacting agents, should apply directly for themselves. She said all information was available online so students should not fall prey to agent mafia.
“The agents should be discouraged, as they mint money from students by making false promises of getting visas from our embassy. In reality they cannot get a residence visa,” she said. “It is really hilarious to see advertisements of agents in newspapers to attract students.”
She said the agents not only deceived students in Pakistan, but also in other countries like India, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
Documents, including an application form and an admission letter in Swedish university, a bank statement and health insurance were necessary for obtaining a visa. The bank statement should be in the name of the student, she said.
Atmé said the embassy of Sweden in Pakistan, after scrutinising documents, sent them to the Migration Board.
“We only check the authenticity of documents attached with the application, we conduct interviews, check bank statements and send the applications to the board. It is the board that decides to grant a residence permit or not,” she said.
To a question, she answered that the embassy could not take action against the agents, adding that students were told not to pay unnecessary fees to the agents. In 2008, the embassy had received around 5,000 applications from Pakistan, she said.
Furthermore, the applicants kept on calling the embassy to get information, but it was not possible to respond to every applicant, she said.
Labour rules: Sweden’s parliament has also relaxed labour immigration rules on December 15, 2008.
The rules stipulate that individual employers rather than the Swedish Public Employment Service will decide whether there is a need to recruit foreign workers. Atmé said there were security concerns in Pakistan, but she was never afraid and enjoyed her work.
Source: Daily Times, 21-Jan-09