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She followed visa extension rules to the letter. But American student Amy still faces months of frustration and uncertainty
»I understand that countries have to regulate immigration. I have tried to follow all the rules, but now I can do nothing but wait. It is frustrating,« says American Master’s student Amy Clotworthy.
At the moment, she is putting the finishing touches on her Master’s dissertation in Applied Cultural Analysis.
As an academic who now speaks fluent Danish, Amy seems to be the kind of immigrant that the Danish labour market is crying out for.
According to figures from the Danish think tank Economic Council of the Labour Movement (AE), Denmark will need 100,000 extra people with a higher education in 2019. But ever-tighter rules and tortuous bureaucracy make staying here an endless tale of paperwork, uncertainty and waiting.
Amy has studied at the University of Copenhagen for the past two years on a student visa. Her visa ran out on 15 September, but as she will hand in her dissertation on 2 December, she needed a visa extension.
»I knew that I had to apply for a student extension. I could do that 3 months before my visa ran out at the earliest, so I sent my application on 15 June,« she explains. »They said it would take 3 months.«
But five months on, she is still waiting for her application to be approved.
»I am here legally while they are processing my case, but there is still an element of uncertainty. If I am denied the extension, I can appeal. But that is like falling into a void of paperwork.«
»Even if I get approved, it still only lasts until March. And what then? It is endless,« she says.
Even if the extension is granted, Amy is faced with the prospect of starting the whole process again to apply for a 3-year green card work permit. And that means more visits to the Immigration Service office, which is time-consuming, she says.
»You have to plan to spend an entire day there. It takes a good 3 or 4 hours. I am willing to go through all this, but the delays are just so disheartening,« she explains.
For Amy, the new regulations have made an already frustrating process even more confusing.
»I have already dealt with this system for 3 years – figuring out the specifics of what the government wants and trying to live up to them. I pay my taxes and I paid for my own language lessons. Now the goalposts moved again. I have to figure out where I fit in,« she says.
»Because the government wants to keep some people out, they have made the process even more difficult for everyone. It is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater,« she says. »Academics ought to get a free pass.«
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