Second-class non-citizen

I have hesitated to write this post because my situation does not represent the typical student experience in this area, but I feel that the time has now come for it. After waiting for over 15 months, I still have not received a decision regarding my residency from the Migration Board (Migrationsverket). Without this, I have no way of obtaining a Swedish personal identity number (or personnummer in Swedish), despite the fact that my program of study lasts for two years (you are entitled to a personal identity number if your program of study lasts longer than one year). Here are just some of the benefits to which I currently lack access:

  • Access to the health care system (by far the most important for me)
  • Ability to sign up for SFI (Swedish for immigrants) classes for free
  • Access to libraries throughout the city
  • Ability to sign up for the Stockholm housing queue
  • Ability to purchase home insurance

Let me point out here that as a Swiss citizen, I was able to obtain a “coordination number” fairly quickly. This not only allowed me to open a Swedish bank account, but also to pay Swedish taxes. It’s pretty unfair that I pay taxes to the Swedish government considering that I don’t receive any of the benefits listed above.

Although my situation is not the norm, I am not the only one in this position. So far, every other Swiss student I have met here has encountered the same problem. By now, well over a year after we arrived in Sweden, some of us have received our numbers, but there are others like me who are still waiting. There is no real explanation for why it should take so long for a decision to be made considering that Swiss citizens, though not from the EU, are also entitled to work and study here.

It’s important to me to finally expose this odd loophole and its inherent unfairness towards Swiss students (and potentially other nationalities). I have gone through all logical channels to remedy my situation multiple times, even applying for an expedited review of my application (which was rejected). I think the most upsetting part of this experience has been the “it’s not my problem” attitude that I encountered from every single person with whom I have spoken (with the exception of one nice employee from the Embassy of Switzerland in Stockholm).

For Swiss students reading this, I would look into this problem prior to leaving Switzerland. To the Swedish government and the Migration Board: there are students who are being denied access to all of the institutions that makes Sweden a great place to live. It is discriminatory to exclude a small minority of students from these privileges based on their nationality. Going forward, I hope that KI will take an active role in advocating for students who are experiencing problems like mine.

8 thoughts on “Second-class non-citizen

    1. Maybe something can be done, but it’s going to be at a higher (political) level. I think it’s important for us to be open about these problems so that one day things will improve for future students.

  1. That’s great that you have taken it up, Laura!
    I waited 13 months to get any response. I did not even get any case officer during 13 month…n my file have not been even opened at migration board …. I was stocked in Sweden not being able to leave…since I would not be able to return. In the end my boss called the migration board since I needed to travel abroad…n my boss needed me to be back on time.
    You know what is the most strange? that i got an email 15 minutes after my boss called them. If that could have been fixed in just 15 minutes, WHY IT HAD TAKEN 13 MONTH …and of course it could have taken ages more, if i was not in emergency situation to leave the country.

    1. Hi Mona,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I think you make an important point here. It just shows that when this issue is prioritized, a solution can be found. I’m sorry that you had to wait for 13 months. It’s frustrating when the answer is so simple.

      Kind regards,
      Laura

    1. Hi Andrea,

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I can’t believe you had to wait for two years. If it takes that long for me, I’ll probably have left Sweden before I ever get it.

      All the best,
      Laura

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