Forgetting to buy a ticket for a train can be expensive. But for Mahadi Hasan Tusher from Bangladesh, it cost him his stay in Denmark.
Tusher was deported in July and faces a two year re-entry ban to Denmark and the entire Schengen Area after Udlændingestyrelsen (Immigration Service) found he was in the country illegally.
But Tusher argues his illegal residence in the country was an accident and the result of a miscommunication with an Udlændingestyrelsen employee who told him his stay in the country was valid while he awaited the outcome of his green card application.
“It’s strange that Denmark wants to attract highly educated foreign nationals with the green card scheme, but even when you carefully follow the instructions from Immigration Service, you risk such severe punishment as deportation and a re-entry ban from Schengen,” Tusher told The Copenhagen Post from Bangladesh. “From this point of view, it simply does not seem fair.”
After gaining his master’s in business economics from Mid Sweden University in Sweden on February 6, he arrived in Denmark and applied for a green card and paid the 6,200 kroner fee on February 12.
Tusher had yet to have a confirmation of an extension to his Swedish visa that ended on January 30. Concerned about his legal status in the country, he asked the immigration official, with whom he had lodged his green card application, what proof of residence he needed to show. Tusher alleges that the official told him the stamp in his passport, showing he had applied for a green card, was enough to prove he had residence.
Convinced that he had a legal residence in Denmark, Tusher cancelled his visa extension in Sweden and found a new place to live. On March 13, he emailed his new address to the Danish green card authorities.
It turned out, however, that Tusher was in the country illegally and when he was caught on a train without a ticket on July 4 – he forgot to transfer his bus pass from one jacket to another – he was arrested by police.
He was then transferred to the Ellebæk Prison in Sandholm Asylum Centre from where he was forcedly repatriated. The prison is normally used to house rejected asylum seekers who the authorities believe are at risk of going underground.
Tusher’s complaint is that the two-year re-entry ban from Denmark and the rest of Schengen is excessive, a view that is shared by his lawyer, Åge Kramp from immigration specialists City Advokaterne.
“Tusher was unaware of his illegal status and his behaviour – paying the 6,200 kroner fee for a green card and keeping the authorities updated of his address – hardly fits with the behaviour of an illegal immigrant,” Kramp said.
Kramp argues that Tusher’s crime is merely that he followed bad advice from an ill-informed immigration official and as a result they filed a complaint with the Ministry of Justice.
In an attempt to discover how it was possible for someone in Denmark illegally to submit a green card application, The Copenhagen Post was passed around a number of different ministries. In the process, we discovered the responsibility for approving an application was not Udlændingestyrelsen’s, although applications can be submitted through them as Tusher did.
Instead, the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment within the Employment Ministry bears responsibility for approving green card applications.
Agency spokesperson Nanna Rytter Larsen told The Copenhagen Post that while the agency does as much as it can to verify an application when it is handed in, sometimes it’s hard to verify all the documentation.
“When the applicant submits their application, we inform them that the application may be refused, but we cannot prevent an applicant handing in an application. Then it is a question of whether we process the case,” she said. “We always look into whether they are in the country legally. In most cases it is easily ascertained whether a person is legally in Denmark or not, but sometimes you need to delve a bit deeper down.”
In Tusher’s case, despite emailing a change of address to Udlændingestyrelsen in March, it had still not yet been discovered by the agency that he was in the country illegally before he was arrested in July.