Stories: She was viewed as a Potential Immigrant
International experience. As an overall assessment, Utlendingsdirektoratet did not have enough proof that I would go back to Algeria once my studies were over. So, they could not risk granting me a study permit, student Camela Haddad writes.
Voices of Our Time
Over the past months the International Students' Union of Norway (ISU) has been collecting stories from international students, both on exchange and on full-degree programs, as part of their «ISU Stories» project.
And one Norwegian student going abroad.
Khrono will be publishing some of these stories the coming week.
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, and if you ask me, it's the most beautiful country in the world. I would not change it for anywhere else. It is situated on the Northwestern part of Africa.
We have three types of climate: The mild Mediterranean climate of the coast, the transitional climate of the northern hills and mountains, and the desert climate of the vast area occupied by the Sahara in the Southern part of the country. From the Askrem peak, you can watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
I have always wanted to study abroad. Getting a quality higher education, meeting people from all around the world, discovering a new country and culture are things I aspired to do from my childhood. Finding a study opportunity that suited me, in Biology or Medical Fields, was not an easy task, especially because I am not European, which makes the academic fees extremely high and the scholarships very few!
After months of research, I finally found Nord University and its Bachelor’s degree of Science in Biology. It was exactly what I was looking for.
I visited the university's website and I got so excited. I loved the university, the study program and the interest in internationalization. I have been positively amazed by how much care and consideration was given to new students.
My decision was taken, I was going to apply. So, after translating many documents from Arabic, I sent them to Nord University. Then, the waiting time begun, and I felt like it was a decade.
In mid-April I received an email from the university. My heart started beating faster as I was opening it. I think I even held my breath. Congratulations, you have received an offer of admission to Nord University. I felt like I was flying for a second and then a mixture of happiness and relief spread all over me. It was truly a unique and beautiful moment.
Filled with excitement, I started working on all the things that had to be settled; booking a «hybel», deposit of sufficient funds to live 1 year in Norway - then came the time to apply for my study permit. After reading hundreds of paragraphs about how, when, why and where to apply and after making sure I had all the required documents stated on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration’s (UDI) website, I applied for my study permit.
I was a bit stressed because the waiting time for the study permit was 3 months and I had just 2 remaining before the start of the academic year.
After approximately a month, I received a call asking me to come pick up my decision for a study permit. I was so happy that I had received my permit way before my departure to Norway. They gave me an envelope and I could read:
Decision - Residence permit rejected.
I first thought I didn't read it well but then I understood that I hadn't been granted a study permit. Why? I sent all the documents they required, so why? I tried to read the entire letter but, being shocked, I understood nothing. I read it twice, three times... until I understood the point. The reasons why I hadn't been granted a study permit were because:
- I was from Algeria, a country which has a high immigration potential.
- I was young, unmarried and didn't have children.
- I didn't demonstrate enough ties to my home country.
As an overall assessment, UDI did not have enough proof that I would go back to Algeria once my studies were over. So, they could not risk granting me a study permit.
Who was this person they were talking about? Not me! I love my country and the only reason I was going to Norway was to study. It had never been my intention to stay in Norway without a permit. Thinking back on it, how could they actually guess that? I didn't provide proof that would show my ties to my country, to my family, because I didn't know I had to do that, it wasn’t clearly stated at the time.
I was so lost, and I could see my hopes and plans fly away. Though, encouraged by my dear parents, I immediately looked for a way to appeal. The people who dealt with my application didn't know yet who I was or what my plans were, and I needed to show them.
I started looking for pieces of advice about how to appeal and people have been kind and helpful, and I am so grateful for that. Most of them told me I needed to show all the ties that I had to my home country, Algeria. I started writing my appeal and tons of ideas came to my mind.
I might not be married and having children, but I actually do have a very big, united and lovely family that I love more than anything else. I am the leader of the cultural component as well as an active volunteer teacher and volunteering in several associations, and involved in many sports clubs.
I finished writing the appeal, sent it along with documents proving what I wrote and fortunately, I had been granted a study permit this second time.
It was a long, tough period but I am happy I went through it and I am so grateful I found the needed support from people who were both close to me or complete strangers.
Never give up, falling is okay as long as you get up again. Life, for me, is a long and mysterious road full of obstacles. Those who live it fully and find happiness in it are not the ones who don't meet these challenges, but they are the ones who overcome each and every one of them.
And now, at least, I know how to write an appeal.
The story is first published at ISU Norway's blog.