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Finland to deport Afghan migrant with full-time job – other family members granted residence permits

Immigration officials have turned down the young Afghan's residence permit applications based on family reunification, request for asylum and work-based immigration.

Turvapaikanhakija Mojtaba Hassani.
Finnish police are preparing to deport Mojtaba Hassani back to Kabul, where he has no family of other connections. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Finnish police are preparing to deport 21 year-old Mojtaba Hassani back to Afghanistan although he has a full-time job and all of his other family members have been granted Finnish residence permits.

Hassani has lived in Finland with his mother, step-father and three siblings since 2015 and is currently employed full-time as a cleaner while attending Finnish ninth grade.

Hassani’s rhumba with Finnish immigration authorities began when his family arrived in Finland in 2011, at the invitation of his step-brother. At the time, Hassan was the blended family’s third child at the age of 11. But for some reason still unknown to this day, he was not invited to join the family then.

Hassani lived in a Taliban-controlled part of Afghanistan with his grandmother until he decided to join his family in Finland at the age of 15.

It took another two years for the young man to make it to Finland, because he took on work in Iraq and Turkey to earn money to pay human smugglers to facilitate his trip.

In 2015, Hassani finally took a ferry from Sweden to Finland on 2015, where he was soon able to find the rest of his family on the basis of his mother’s name.

“So far no one has been able to figure out why he was not included in a family reunification application. It’s a cosmic lottery that no one would have wanted,” said Sanna Valtonen, head of the NGO Support for Asylum Seekers. Valtonen is also assisting Hassani.

Age test raises applicants age overnight

Valtonen said she suspects that because of a lack of Finnish language skills, the family didn’t know how to press for Hassani to join them in Finland.

Meanwhile DNA testing confirmed Hassani’s relationship to his mother. However the family reunification process ran aground over Hassani’s age.

The Finnish Immigration Service Migri decided to investigate Hassani’s age, although he had a “tazkira”, an Afghan identity document, which was also used to confirm his siblings’ ages.

However, the result of the age tests spelled bad news for Hassani: overnight, the test raised his age, declaring him to be an adult.

According to Valtonen, in international jurisprudence, a person’s age should be determined within a two-year range, because the age-testing method does not produce precise results. In Finland, immigration officials examine the teeth or wrist to determine age.

In Hassani’s case, the test determined that he was 10 months older than his identity documents stated.

Story continues after photo.

Mojtaba tazkira
The tazkira is an Afghan identity document. It was enough for Finnish authorities to establish age and identity for Hassani's siblings in 2011. However Hassani had to undergo an age test four years later.

Hassani appealed the test results at the EU Court for Human Rights, but lost the motion.

After his family reunification application foundered, Hassani applied for a residence permit as an asylum seeker. However this application was also rejected – immigration officials said it was because he failed to meet the criteria for international protection.

Valtonen said that a positive outcome would have been almost impossible for someone in Hassani’s position, since he had left Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old – at that age he had not yet been personally threatened or assaulted.

“Even the Taliban doesn’t persecute children,” the activist said.

Hassani challenged that decision in the Supreme Administrative Court, but that motion was also turned down.

Work-based application also denied

He then decided to apply for a residence permit on the basis of work. It was supposed to be a sure bet: Hassani’s employer was a group of private persons who had organised themselves to help employ asylum seekers with Valtonen’s assistance.

The collectives provided full-time employment for asylum seekers who had all received work-based residence permits. Hassani’s residence permit application also received a positive preliminary decision from the local employment office.

A recommendation from the local employment office is usually a crucial step in acquiring a work-based residence permit. That’s because it relies on a labour availability consideration that first requires officials to ensure that positions cannot be filled by candidates from the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA).

The sectors where non-EU or EEA applicants can be hired vary from place to place. For example in the Uusimaa region, cleaning fills the criteria for hiring applicants from outside Europe.

In spite of these factors, Hassani’s employer was told that his application for a work-based residence permit was denied. On Tuesday, local police will explain to Hassani the reasons why his application was turned down.

Scuffle returns to haunt application

In its decision, Migri evaluated the applicant’s influence on public order and security, in other words, if the individual has been charged with any punishable offences.

Valtonen and Hassani believe that this might be where his case stumbled. One year ago, he got into a scuffle in his own home, but the other party decided to call the police. Valtonen said that police settled the situation without the assistance of an interpreter.

The notice announcing the immigration officials’ decision noted that the denial was based on Section 36 of the Aliens Act, which indicates that a residence permit may be denied if the applicant is a danger to public security.

However Valtonen noted that Hassani has no criminal record. Yle did not see a copy of his criminal report.

Valtonen and Hassani said they believe that police are currently working on the documentation required to deport the young man back to Afghanistan.

If Hassan is deported, he will be taken to Kabul. He told Yle – in Finnish – that he doesn't know anyone there.

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