Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia – VI (Immigration Options)
By Shaukat Ali Khan
In this article I will highlight the immigration and visa options for professionals who are interested in moving to Scandinavian or European countries.
Green Card Scheme for Denmark: From 2008, Danish government started a Green Card Scheme to attract and retain highly skilled professionals from non-EU countries.
It’s a point based scheme where professionals can get three years residence and work permit in Denmark. With Green Card the professionals and their families will be able to stay in Denmark and look for suitable employment.
Within the first three years if a primary applicant gets any kind of job and is able to show the tax returns to the authorities for the previous year then it is very likely their visa will be extended to some more years and eventually a permanent resident visa will be granted after 5 years of stay and fulfilling the requirements.
The primary objective is to attract professionals from all over the world to the Scandinavia, so that they can serve the companies and fulfil their requirements.
Professionals have to score 100 points to get the Green Card which consists of education, experience, age, language and adaptability.
Interested professionals will get all the details regarding the Green Card from the official link below.
According to the Danish newspapers only 43% of the Green Card holders have managed to score professional jobs, so it is important to understand that the competition is tough.
EU Blue Card: Until 2008: it was rather difficult to get resident and working visa in many European countries, but that is not the case anymore. Highly skilled professionals can get the EU Blue card based on one year job contract in any European country except for the UK, Denmark and Ireland. The objective is to attract highly educated people from non-EU countries and retain them.
A basic condition is job offer, education, age and work experience. Interested professionals can read more about the EU Blue Card from the official link below.
Information about all the above-mentioned schemes is available on the websites and you only need an Internet connection to explore these options.
It is recommended not to spend a penny on any type of consultancy, as information is available on the relevant websites. If you don’t have the required skills and education then don’t waste your time, as it’s almost impossible to get any legal status in these countries and if anyone still manages to enter these countries then the life for such people is going to be miserable, where every single day is a challenge of survival for such people. Some people spend huge amounts of money with different agents to get access to any of these countries. If they enter these countries illegally then they will realize their big mistake of losing all their money. So if you are interested to live or work in Europe then the only respectable way is to get good education and then apply for higher education or if you have experience and skills then apply for professional jobs.
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia – V (Work Opportunities)
By Shaukat Ali Khan
In this article I share my experience about the work environment and job opportunities in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).
In career management it is extremely important to know yourself, your experience, skills, abilities, and interests. Finding a good career is a journey that needs considerable planning and preparation. Many professionals send their resume to every job posting and many don’t even read the requirements of the job and consequently ends up with great frustration and discouragement.
Work environment: Scandinavian working environment is the best in the world for all the benefits that the employees get. Generally employees work about 37.5 hours per week with 5 to 6 weeks annual leave. Young mothers get 8-12 months maternal leave with full salary and young fathers are entitled to 3 months paternal leave in addition to annual leave. All jobs are pensionable and professional job salaries are quite reasonable. Every employee earns equal respect and freedom and may even disagree with the management. The general company environment is professional with multi-cultural and multi-national employees. Generally the employees are skilled, honest, frank and straight-forward and the employers expect the same from their employees. Companies offer career and professional development to their employees and it all depends on the company’s structure. Working hours are normally flexible and many companies offer working from home option to their employees too.
How to find a job: There are many websites where companies advertise their job listings. Below are some of the major company websites where the professionals can apply for jobs to various companies. Many international companies recruit experienced and skilled manpower from abroad. Non-Scandinavian professionals target the international companies and many succeed to get good opportunities. The competition is tough for professionals from all over the world.
How to be short listed for the interview: The important part is to spend significant amount of time to prepare the cover letter and resume. Generally it takes 2-6 weeks to prepare a good initial resume. Prepare a detailed resume (many pages) and summary resume (maximum 2 pages).I recommend professionals to discuss their resume with experienced and skilled people. It’s important to understand job requirements for a specific job and if requirements are according to your experience and interest then prepare your resume exactly according to the requirements and required skills. Highlight experience and skills as companies generally are interested in job-seekers with special skills in many areas. Cover letter should be the best marketing letter for the specific job and makes you the best and brilliant candidate. In the cover letter avoid repeating what you have already mentioned in your resume. Cover letter should highlight the important bullet points of why you are the best candidate. Avoid mentioning everything about you, but focus on what is relevant about you. Read and understand the requirements multiple times and re-adjust your resume and cover letter accordingly. Ask for proof reading from any skilled or experienced professional before submitting your application.
Visa: Generally speaking the international professionals may obtain a visa within 1-3 months.
Language: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finish languages are not required in international companies, but in local companies the local language is compulsory to carry out your duties.
Don’t anticipate to get hired as soon as you apply for a job but instead keep on trying and be patient and motivated and don’t give up. Generally the recruitment process takes 1-8 months; depends on the company and job type.
In my next article I am going to explain the different green and blue card schemes in Scandinavia for professionals.
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia IV (Social System)
By Shaukat Ali Khan
In my previous three articles I have focused mostly on the education system of Scandinavia.
Now I would like to share with my readers the social aspects of Scandinavia in general and Denmark in particular. Just recently many of us have heard Imran Khan mentioning Scandinavia’s excellent social values.
These societies value their citizens and thereby give them their rights to live a worthy and healthy life.
Health: Hospitals are accessible to everyone who has full legal rights to stay in Denmark or in Scandinavia.
Every person gets an ID number called CPR number in Denmark and SSN Social Security Number = Personnummer in Sweden based on your birthdate.
Everything is centralized and therefore any state officer can get access to the record of any person with this ID number.
In Denmark after your registration you will receive a yellow card in about 3 weeks’ time with your house doctor’s info (he/she will be an experienced general physician).
The doctor mentioned on the yellow card will be your first contact to any medical issue you may have. When/If a patient requires further consultation the house doctor will recommend the patient to consult a specialist for further health-related check-ups or to a proper hospital and laboratory for diagnosis and treatment.
All the health services including major or minor operations are free of charge except for the medicine which you will have to pay for at the pharmacy (Apotek) but the price will be subsidized in due course of time.
For all new-born babies the relevant municipality (Kommune) will nominate a nurse who will be responsible for the regular monitoring of the child’s health and the nurse will do frequent visits to the child’s residence also. The nurse will even train new mothers how to handle new-born babies. All the children will get regular health as well as dental check-ups. Generally the local doctor will be available from 08:00-16:00 hours every day even by phone from 08:00 – 09:00 every morning. After 16:00 the emergency doctor is available throughout the night and all treatment is free of charge.
Early Child Care: Generally both parents work, so the kindergarten system is there to support the parents. In the Danish system the children start with the kindergarten at a very early age of about 8 to10 months. The flexible kindergarten opens at 07:00 to 17:00 hours during weekdays where fully trained staff will take care of the children. The children are provided with breakfast, lunch and snacks during their days at the kindergarten. This childcare service is very expensive, but subsidized by the local municipality. Day-cares are available until the child turns 6 that is when the regular school starts.
Schooling: All the children start school at nearby schools. Allocation of schools depends on the residential address. Regular school has 0 to 9 grades and it is based on the performance and interest the students have in the different fields for further studies which can either be technical education (carpentry, hair dresser and other fields) or further studies. Many students continue with their studies to the high school for three years.
The school and high school education is free of charge for everyone who has legal status.
University education: After finishing their high school education many students will continue with their university education while others may choose technical professions. In addition to free university education the students may even obtain scholarships to further their education to the university. Free university education and scholarships (Stipend receives by the student every month) are only available for the citizens and permanent resident card holders.
Pension: Seniors of +65 years or older get their pension every month from the State which includes subsidized way of travelling, health services, old age homes etc.
Unemployment: All the unemployed citizens get paid by the government (unemployment benefits) every month until they find a job. In addition to the unemployment benefits the government provides special education and training for all these unemployed people so that it will be easier for them to find a relevant job in the future and all this education is absolutely free of charge.
People with special needs: The government takes the responsibility of taking care of all the people with special needs (with any disabilities). Every person with special needs gets special allowance from the government including salary to the care taker (either parents or any other person). Every single place has facilities to entertain special needs including wheel chair access to public places, trains, offices. There are special schools and training programs for the rehabilitation where trained staff engages them in different activities and sports.
Tax System: All the above social services are only possible because of the strong tax system. Generally workers’ pay 38% to 57% taxes from their monthly salary which depends on how much they earn. If a person is earning more than a normal income then he/she has to pay more taxes, so the minimum tax deduction is 38% and the maximum is 56% from the salaries each month. But people are happy with this, as they are confident that their money is being utilized properly and they are entitled to all the benefits because of the taxes they are paying. The tax system is transparent and corruption free.
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia III (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden)
The third article’s aim is to give general awareness to prospective students about the admission requirements especially for the master’s degree programs in Scandinavian universities.
‘The secret to getting ahead is getting started’ –Mark Twain
With reference to the above statement by Mark Twain it’s important for prospective students to start their admission process and first part is to find the requirements for the admission. In any master’s degree program below are the general requirements.
•HEC attested photo copies of transcripts and degrees of 16 years education (completion of 4 years bachelor’s degree or 2 years bachelor’s degree plus 2 years master’s degree)
•Board attested photo copies of SSC/O-levels and HSSC/A-levels certificates
•IELTS test results (Minimum 6 score)
•Statement of purpose (Why you need admission and how it shall benefit you, your society and country)
•Two recommendation letters from your earlier educational institutions
•Recommendation letter(s) from the current employer (if available)
•Medium of instruction certificate from your earlier educational institutions
•Passport photo copies attested by the notary service
•ID card photo copies attested by the notary service
•Any other useful and available document (including voluntary services certificates, sports certificates and any other achievement certificate)
Interested students may visit relevant websites below more often during December to February and July to September and send their admission application online. After submitting your online application send all the highlighted above documents to the address mentioned on the admission form within 15-20 days.
By using the same credentials and code used online in the admission form the students may check their application status online.
All the interested students may start preparing the required documents, as all the attestation process takes enormous amount of time and it is almost impossible to prepare all the documents at the last-minute. Generally it takes 1-3 months to prepare all the required documents.
Below are the general requirements for visa.
•Two sets of visa application forms dully filled and signed
•Visa processing fee receipt -Admission letter from the university
•Minimum two pictures according to the required size and color
•Bank statement/any scholarship letter (if applicable)
•HEC attested copies of transcripts and degrees
•IELTS results -Passport photo copies
•ID card photo copies
•Any other document given on the relevant embassy website
‘All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work’ – Calvin Coolidge
Prospective students have to set their individual goals to meet; backed by motivation, dedication, hard work, agility, patience and honesty. These are few requirements for a good career particularly in the western world.
In my next article I shall share with my readers the different aspects of work and life in Scandinavia.
For admissions in Norway
For admissions in Finland
For admissions in Denmark
For admissions in Sweden
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia – II
The second article’s objective is to give general awareness to prospective students about the higher education and residence, that I have experience in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).
First and foremost is the recognition and standard of universities. All universities in Scandinavia have close collaboration with the industry and the standard of education is quite high. All the facilities for research and development are available for the potential students, including 24/7 access to the computer labs and study rooms. The universities are run and owned by the government; recognition and degree accreditation is not an issue.
Second part of the article relates to fees and living expenses. Before 2004 Masters level education was free in all Scandinavian countries. In 2004 Denmark implemented fee for all international students outside Europe which was followed by Sweden in 2011. In addition to their living expenses students have to pay the tuition fee in Denmark and Sweden which is approximately 80,000 Dkr (Danish Kroner) and 100,000 Skr (Swedish Kroner) per year. (Upward PKR1300000 per year). But there is nothing to worry about as Finish and Norwegian universities are still offering free education to all the international students in their Master’s degree programs. The standard of education is same as Denmark, Sweden and rest of the European countries and there is no tuition fee, yes it’s still possible to get higher education without paying any tuition fee. Education is offered in a range of fields, from technology to social sciences and medicine to engineering.
Students have to arrange for their living expenses. The living expenses are in the range of PKR 35,000 to 90,000 per month, depending on the living options opted by the students. Most students from south Asia and Africa share their accommodation which then reduces their living expense. Sharing options are mostly available for male students and female students have to rent a separate room which normally costs them PKR 35,000 to 60,000 per month. The expensive part is the accommodation. Food is comparatively cheaper. Some students get some type of part time jobs which covers their living expense. Getting a part time job also depends on the city where they live. The chances of getting any part time job is bit better in large cities compared to small cities and towns.
Generally the academic session starts in January-February and August-September every year, so the admissions open in December-February and July-September for the following sessions.
The admission processing time takes 3-5 months after submitting the required documents. Successful students get notification regarding their admission followed by the letter of admission from their university. Based on the admission letter students then apply for their visa which normally takes 4-10 weeks processing time after submitting all the required documents and visa processing fee. My advice is to prepare all the required documents for visa during the processing time for the admission, so that students can apply as soon as they receive the admission letter.
For the admissions and the visa requirements please visit the links below.
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia – I
Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) will be a series of small articles where I will be sharing my personal experiences and lessons from this society. The aim behind this is to give an idea to all those potential candidates who are planning and thinking to go abroad for their education or career. The idea of going abroad attracts a number of people for various reasons; ranging from educational purposes to financial incentives to working in an international environment. Hunzukuzhan in Scandinavia will cover different aspects of living and studying abroad.
The first article’s objective is to give a general awareness to prospective students about different categories of international students here. The students in these categories are the ones I’ve interacted with; there are probably others who do not fall into these categories. In this article, I will be talking about three major categories of international students here in Scandinavia.
The first category comprises of those students who are well driven and determined to get good degrees, enhance their knowledge and go back to serve their home countries. It’s getting pretty rare to see such driven and motivated students. Some students go for PhD after completion of a Master’s degree. Getting a PhD degree is almost like getting a full time job for 4-5 years with pay equivalent to any professional entry-level job. In this category some students come with various national and international scholarship schemes. Students in this category try their best to educate themselves from the system and society and when they go back home they are comparatively well off.
Second category is those students who just need visa to get an entry to a developed country. One example of this system is getting a visa to one country in Schengen states, which then makes one eligible to enter any country in Schengen states (a group of 26 European countries). Every year many students who come in this category are seeking to get employed in any odd job (e.g. doing dishes, cleaning and newspaper distribution etc.) and earn as much as they can to support their families back home. Life for such a student can be very difficult, as they hardly get a chance to explore this world and learn from their environment.
A student in such a situation often earns a decent wage compared to back home, but this often comes at a cost of a miserable daily life. They have many liabilities and responsibilities towards their families and often feel liable towards their responsibilities. There only routine is work – sleep – eat and they cannot afford to have a social life where they meet people from their own country or in the local community. After couple of years these educated students often lose their track of all the education and professional experience they got during past years and even loose the confidence to apply for any position that is relevant to their education.
Students in this category try every possible way to prolong their stay in these countries including marriages (in some cases ‘Sham marriages’) and other possible ways. Normally it’s impossible for these students to extend their visa, as they don’t earn any credits from their institutions, which is the basic requirement for any visa extensions. Moreover, some even go to extend of spending huge amounts in processing their admission from their home country (to get admission and visa) through different ‘agents and consultants’ who often charge upwards of PKR. 500,000.
It’s not all doom and gloom as there is a third category of students who come with the best intentions of completing there education to a high standard while having a good time exploring the culture and popular destinations in their guest country. Many of such type go on to apply for professional opportunities based on their experience and education. The competition may be very high, but many still manage to get good work opportunities. Students in this category complete their education and try their best to get a professional opportunity for couple of years in the country of stay and if they don’t, many are still picked by good institutions back home.
In my next article I will share with my readers the different aspects work and life in Scandinavia. Special thanks to Rubab Maryam Khan and Muhammad Ali Khan for supporting me in this initiative.