Green card scheme has been under constant changes from the very beginning. It is third time in the last one and half year that Green Card holders face new amendments in their visa extensions. One after another tougher rules for green card holders. Although Green card holders are the only immigrant category who are highly qualified. Many of them are working professional jobs while others are on the way towards professional jobs. Almost all are working full-time and paying about 80 to 100 thousands kroner as direct tax per year. Many of them are already fluent danish language speaker and writer and almost all others are going to language schools and learning the challenging Danish language. Majority of them are living a family life here in Denmark. They are with their kids who are going to Danish schools and speaking fluent danish language. Many of these kids speak danish language more fluently then their mother-tongue. There is zero crime rate among the Green card holders and zero percent are on any state or kummune support.
In July 2014, parliamentary committee brought some severe recommendations regarding the Green card scheme. Although the Danish Green Card Association protested against these rules at different levels but these rules where passed in November 2014 and applied from 1st January 2015. The amendments included that Green Card holders must earn an income of 315,000 kr in the last year of their extension. This was a challenging job for every GC holder. The amount is big enough that some professional job holders have to do second odd job to fulfill the requirement beside learning danish language and integrating in the vibrant danish society.
When Green card holders somehow started to settle down with the tougher income requirement while going through stress and psychological pressure then came the 2nd phase of amendments. They were about tightening the requirements for getting Permanent residence permit. All of the sudden, DF along some other parties brought the bill to change the PR requirements and apply them retroactively. Hundreds of green card holders suffered badly due to these rules and their application fee is still not refunded. The case is now in the court of law.
Now here comes the catastrophe. On 5th April 2016, once again DF, this time solely came with a bill to repeal green card scheme long with the clause that no more extensions for existing green card holders. This marked the bottom line. Green card holders got shocked. This clause would have meant that all green card holders have to return to their home countries when their visa expires. After the Green Card Association started to protest then came some amendments. These amendments include that Green Card holders can extend their visa until 10th June, 2018. This might have given chance to some to settle down but majority will still have to go to their home countries in case this amended bill along time limitation for visa extension is applied.
Here are two green card holders along their families who has to go back home in case 10th June, 2018 time limitation is applied for green card visa extension. Although they fulfill all other requirements.
Ravi Kumar and Arpita Ravi
Ravi Kumar is from Indain State of Gujrat. He has done M. Tech in Mechanical Engineering in 2011. After graduation he started working for a multi-billion dollar company Jindal Steel and Power in India. It was a well-paid job and he started to settle down with his life. He got married with Arpita Ravi in 2013. Arpita holds Master degree in physiotherapy. In July 2014, they decided to apply for Danish Green Card. Ravi Kumar got reply of his green card application and his visa started from 16 of September, 2014. Ravi and Arpita took all their savings and some support from parents and came to Denmark in November 2014. They came with a dream to settle down in Denmark. Ravi started working part time and also started going to school to learn Danish language. In the meanwhile, Ravi was also busy in networking and search for professional job in Mechanical Engineering. On the other hand Arpita decided to focus on Danish language and started PD 3. She wanted to be recognized as Physiotherapist for which Danish authorities require at least 10 Character in PD 3 exam. She is now in module 3 of PD 3. Everything was going as planned when all of the sudden amendments were brought to Green Card scheme. It was made mandatory to earn 320,000 Kr. for the extension of Green Card visa from 1st January 2015. Looking to this Ravi started full time odd job to fulfill the requirement of extension. ”I wanted to focus on danish language but after 1st January 2015 amendments to green card scheme I have to start working full-time. Off course it disturbed my plans. Ravi said.”
Everyone is aware of the accommodation problems in Copenhagen and same is case for Ravi and Arpita. They did not had proper place to live so in October 2015 they with the support of their parents and whatever saving they had bought a Ejerlejlighed in Hvidovre kommune. It is a 2 rooms apartment. It costs 1.500.000 Kr. (1.5 Million kr). They paid down payment of 500.000 Kr. (0.5 million Kr.). On 1st January 2016, they shifted to this new apartment. They also bought a car worth of 100,000 kr. Everything was going fine until 5th April, 2016 when Dansk Folkeparti brought this bill of not only repealing the Green card scheme but also suggesting to stop visa extension of existing green card holders. After 1st hearing of the bill on 12th May 2016, Danish Green Card Association protested and managed to convey their message and the severe consequences of the bill if passed unchanged. With the support from Enhedslisten and other parties, Member of Parliament (MPs) decided to amend the bill and was decided that Green Card Holders will be able to extend their visa until 10 June, 2018. This means no green card holder will be able to extend his or her visa after 10 June 2018. Now there is 2nd handling of the bill on 26th May 2016 where these amendments will be discussed.
Catastrophe for Ravi and Arpita:
In case these amendments are applied for green card visa extension so Ravi and Arpita has to go back to India. That is because Ravi got a three year visa starting from 16th September 2014 to 16th September 2017. He will be able to apply for his first visa extension on 17 June, 2017 i.e. 3 months prior to the expiry of their visa. They will get their visa extended for one year till 16th September 2018.
Now here comes the danger part. They will not be able to extend their visa as the new amendments suggest that no more green card visa extension after 10 June, 2018. Ravi and Arpita have to sell their Ejerlejlighed and car which will cost them hundreds of thousands. Most importantly, it will destroy their whole dreams of settling in Denmark. They are already in a shock and mentally stress about the situation. ”Would it be the case in the beginning that we have to leave Denmark after 10 June 2018, I would never have decided to move to Denmark in the first place, Ravi says.” It is a disaster. Our whole life is at stake as we have started a new life in Denmark leaving everything in India. I want to finish PD 3 and get 10 Character after which I would be able to start my own physiotherapy clinic, says Arpita.
Mehvish Kiran and her family
Mehvish case is even more severe. She is Mphil degree holder in Chemistry from Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan. She was working as a Lecturer in College and her husband was having a job in Textile industry as a Textile Engineer. In 2010, her husband had a severe road accident in which he lost his one eye and had inner and outer injuries. After this he could not continue his job. Thereafter, being a solo support for the family, Mehvish could not afford and more importantly because of the conservative societal norms as a female solo supporter. It was then that she together with her husband decided to apply for Danish Green Card. So Mehvish applied as main applicant and got GC on 30 August 2013. She came to Denmark with her 4 children, 11 years old daughter Fatima, 9 years old daughter Ayesha, 6 years old son Hamza and 5 years old son Talha. They brought everything they had in Pakistan to start a new life. Mehvish and family could not find apartment in Copenhagen so they shifted to Ringsted where they found 3 rooms apartment. Mehvish is the only earner in the family as her husband is going to danish language school and taking care of kids. Her 3 kids are going to Danish School and fluent danish language speakers while her younger son is going to børnhave. In the beginning, she also decided to focus on Danish language but after 1st January 2015 rules; she started full-time work in November 2014 to fulfill the requirements for extension.
Catastrophe for Mehvish and her family:
Mehvish will not be able to extend her stay in Denmark in case there will be no more extensions for green card holders after 10 June, 2018. She has to go back to Pakistan where she has literally nothing left. Her kids are studying in Danish schools from last 4 years and will be impossible for them to survive in Pakistani schools. Most importantly, she will lose her job and it might take years to find a job in Pakistan. Being the sole supporter of her family, she has to see her family devastated. ”In case this rule applies and I have to go back home so I would rather claim asylum rather destroying everything for my family, say Mehvish”.
These are just two stories but thousands of existing green card holders are in same or even worse situation. Many have to leave Denmark after living here for 4 or 5 years. The only solution to this human crisis is that we totally repeal and exclude the clause of extension. The existing green card holders who are here in Denmark should be allowed to extend their visas without any time limit as far as they fulfill other requirements. There should not be any time limit for extending green card visa. This will let Ravi Kumar and Arpita to live in Denmark and not sell their Ejerlejlighed and car. It will also normalize life for Mehvish and her kids can continue going to school and strongly integrate in Danish society.
Written by: Naqeeb Khan
Green Card holder from May 2013
Executive Member, Danish Green Card Association (DGCA)