Immigration Raises Support Requirement, Foreign Students Possibly At Risk - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Immigration Raises Support Requirement, Foreign Students Possibly At Risk

Published December 12, 2016

Photos by
Julia Staples/Art Bicnick

The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) has announced that they are raising the minimum income requirement for residence permits in Iceland, and this has many foreign university students in a panic, Grapevine has learned.

The announcement posted on UTL’s website states that, as of January 2017, the granting of a residence permit in Iceland or Icelandic citizenship will continue to rest in part upon a demonstration of being able to support oneself. That minimum requirement will be 180,550 ISK per month and 270,825 ISK for a couple per month, pre-tax.

This amount is well under the minimum wage for full-time work for unskilled labour. However, Chloe Jane Fisher, a student at the University of Iceland, points out that this requirement has caught a great many foreign students off guard, prompting grave concerns that these students will not be able to meet these requirements, and therefore lose their right to stay in Iceland.

“Students can’t work more than 15 hours a week,” Chloe told Grapevine. “It’s impossible to find a job that will pay a non-Icelandic speaker 163,353 kr for sixty hours of [monthly] work, so we have to supplement with our own money. But, like, we’re students. Even if you’re paying full price for a single at [the dorms], that’s only about 80k a month, and it’s possible to get your grocery budget under 30k a month, so it is possible to live far below what UTL demands if you’re conscious of budget and taking advantage of student discounts. But now we have to have EVEN MORE money in the bank that we can’t spend, that we can’t feasibly acquire working legally, and most of us were not told this.”

She adds that neither she nor any student she knows were informed of this requirement change, and that she was not informed of this when she had her permit granted last August. Chloe adds that this puts students from outside the European Union especially in a tight spot.

“This mostly affects non-EU students and it’s very hard for us to get loans,” she told us. “America won’t even let you defer payment on preexisting loans if you study here.”

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