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Afghan family facing deportation may get work-based residence permits

An Afghan family in Central Finland may now be allowed to stay in the country after an aborted deportation on Monday. Police picked up the Afghan father and his two-year-old daughter on Monday, prompting his wife to take flight with their babe-in-arms. Officials later disclosed that the man had a permanent job and had applied for a work-based residence permit.

Maahanmuuttoviraston myötämiä asiakirjoja
Image: Kare Lehtonen / Yle

An Afghan family scheduled for deportation after failed asylum applications may be allowed to remain in Finland if the father is granted a work-based residence permit. Officials in the town of Kyyjärvi, where the father found work, said they expected the residence permit to be granted very soon.

The man had secured a permanent job and was waiting for a decision on an application for work-based residence permit, when police attempted to enforce a deportation order earlier this week.

On Monday, police swooped down on the Betset concrete factory in Kyyjärvi, central Finland to detain an Afghan asylum seeker for deportation. Officers also picked up the man’s two-year-old daughter from daycare for the deportation operation. Fearing a similar fate, the man’s wife took the couple’s infant and went underground.

"Their whereabouts are still not known," said Kyyjärvi municipal manager Eero Ylitalo.

Municipal support for residence permit

The local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (Ely-keskus), provided a statement supporting the Afghan man’s application for a work-based residence permit.

"The Finnish Immigration Service told me that because the man has a job contract and a supporting statement, it would be a foregone conclusion that he will receive the residence permit," Ylitalo commented.

The municipal chief speculated that a decision would be forthcoming on Wednesday or in the next few days at the latest. Town officials say they have no information about the man and the toddler whom police picked up on Monday.

Different units processing applications

The case of the Afghan family has raised eyebrows since officials attempted to execute the deportation order although the family had filed an application for a work-based residence permit, and apparently met the requirement to be granted residence status.

The confusion arose from the fact that at the Finnish Immigration Service, different units process asylum applications and worker’s residence permit requests. On Tuesday, the agency took to Twitter to say that applicants have one profile that shows everyone with the right to process an application.

However there is still a view that the process is not foolproof: in a similar case last spring, An Afghan man was deported from Finland the night before he was granted leave to remain in the country.

In any case, the police operation meant that the family’s negative asylum decisions were final and subject to a deportation order.

"I do not at all want to criticise the police, they were doing their jobs. But Monday’s episode has ensured that these people have an obsessive fear of the police," Ylitalo noted.

Similar applicants in Kyyjärvi

The Afghan man is not the only asylum seeker in Kyyjärvi who has also applied for a work-based residence permit.

"We have more of this kind of person. The municipality has been active in this area because we have a labour shortage. We have sought to educate residents and to help asylum seekers navigate the complex bureaucracy," Ylitalo added.

Kyyjärvi has a population of just under 1,400, more than one-third of whom are not working age adults.

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