It is beyond doubt that technology has transformed every facet of human life, both for better and for worse. Therefore it does not come across as a surprise that many administrative departments in the government sector, have used technology as a tool to channelize information and speed-up processing of data. It has been the same with the visa application procedures in every country. Majority of the visa application procedure, from submission of forms to payment of application fee, is now online in most of the countries.
Being a non-European student, I needed a visa to enter Sweden. The visa process was very clearly outlined on the Swedish Embassy’s website. I will strongly recommend all the applicants to visit the website of the Swedish Embassy in their country. I found answers to all my queries there like how much amount I need to show in my bank statement, the educational documents required and validity period of visa. The application, processing fee and relevant documents had to be sent online. However, after submitting the application, I still had to visit the embassy in person to submit my bio-metrics. The bio-metrics include finger prints, height, signature and photograph. A major confusion was that wether a representative from embassy would contact me and give me a time slot for that, or do I have to make the phone call myself. I was not sure, so I decided to call them myself and as I learnt afterwards calling them yourself is actually the way it should be done.
Luckily, I was studying in the capital of Pakistan, so I did not have to travel to submit my bio-metrics. For a lot of students, it was a big hassle to travel all the way to the capital city for a 15-minute procedure. Unfortunately, a big chunk of applicants every year have to go through this misery and spend a precious chunk of their time and money in completing this stage of the procedure. Personally, I envy people who can travel to different countries without a visa; having filed a barrage of paper work for the university application, you are then confronted with the uphill task of assembling documents for the visa. It can be deflating at times, but one has to keep a calm head and look at the gains beyond the struggle; I did so, and now I take immense pride in the determination that I showed.
After the bio-metrics it was just a waiting game; the embassy told me I had to wait for at least 3 months for a reply. After around 10 weeks a got an email from the embassy stating that a decision had been made about my visa, but did not specify wether it was a yes or a no. I felt confused and annoyed at the same time at such an unclear message, but then there was not much I could do. A few days later I got a call from the courier company to come and collect my visa from their head office. I had mixed feelings of jubilation, enthusiasm, gratitude and passion when I finally put my hands on the resident permit card; all my hard work and aspirations had finally yielded the desired result. I guess I was lucky; some international students, whom I met after coming to Sweden, had unforseen delays in receiving their resident permit cards due to administrative problems at the embassy. So, it is always advisable to apply for the visa as soon as you accept the offer from Chalmers and not being lethargic about it. My resident permit card is valid for only a year and I will have to get an extension one month before the date of expiry to continue my studies in Sweden.
Applying for a visa seems to be a daunting task; the fear that you might mess up and the golden opportunity to study abroad might go down the drain, is always looming over your head. At least I felt so, because I knew many talented students who got through to the best universities, but failed to make the final leap of obtaining the visa. It is hearth wrenching, but at the end of the day it is a part of life. I sincerely hope none of the new students at Chalmers face such a fate, and all of the make it to the amazing community of students here!