‘I’m not a quitter, but what have I done to deserve this?’

'I'm not a quitter, but what have I done to deserve this?'
Zeeshan Khan with his wife and daughter. Photo: Private
Zeeshan Khan from Pakistan works in Sweden, is married to a Swede and has a young daughter. But the long wait to find out if he may stay in Sweden is taking its toll.

My name is Zeeshan Khan and I'm from Pakistan. I came to study in Sweden on August 24th, 2009. I work in IT as a project manager – I started in April 2012 and have been working since. I pay my bills on time, I pay my taxes on time, I have no credit history nor any criminal record. I don't even have a parking ticket to my name.

I am married to a Swedish girl and we have been living together since October 2012. We have a kid together, a two-year-old girl.

In January 2015 I applied for citizenship, but after eight months of waiting my application got rejected on technicalities.

I took the decision to the Migration Court and they rejected my application too, by saying I need to have a permanent residence permit prior to citizenship.

I tried to explain myself that I applied for citizenship since at the time the Migration Agency website said if you are married or living with a European citizen for two years you are allowed to apply for citizenship. But they never mentioned that EU citizen means a citizen who is not a Swedish national.

I got a letter from court saying that I need to have a permanent residence permit before the citizenship, but they did not want to comment on the points that I raised, in fact the letter said nothing about the points that I raised to court.

I called the judge to discuss this situation and the judge said on the phone that yeah, this is confusing and misleading, but this is not our problem. I talked to the Migration Agency and they said yes, this is misleading, but we can't do anything about it, the law is the law and this is what it is.

I saw no way out and in the end I had to apply for residence permit. I was frustrated, so frustrated that I thought that I chose the wrong country to start a family, where interpretation of the law is based on person to person and laws are made to annoy people who help the society with their efforts.

It has now been 14 months since I applied for a residence permit, 24 months since I applied for citizenship. All this time, I have been waiting for a decision. I haven't seen my family in years, my parents are old, they are not very healthy and sometimes they cry on the phone. They miss me and so do I, frustrated that I can't do anything about it. I can't do my job properly either, sometimes I need to travel outside Sweden for work but I can't do that, thanks to the Migration Agency for screwing my personal and professional life.

I'm not an 'I quit' person. I tried my best and am still trying to get through this. I try to call people at the Migration Agency to help me out. Unfortunately most of them don't care, on vacation, never pick up the phone, or too busy fixing asylum cases or having fika, I don't know… but what have I done to deserve this?

I work harder than an average Swede, I earn more than an average Swede. I pay more taxes than an average Swede, but when it comes to treatment I have been treated like someone who doesn't matter, whose effort doesn't count, whose opinion doesn't matter and most of all, his money is all we care about.

Today you can pay and approve your tax declaration by an SMS in Sweden. When the government needs money from our pockets they have a state-of-the-art system to do that, everything is so convenient and super fast. But when it comes to helping their tax payer they have answers like we have so much to do, we are busy, can't answer calls, send a letter by the post, we are busy, you have to wait in the queue where the waiting time is years, we can't do anything if your parents are sick, we can't do anything if you lose your job, we can't do anything if your wife and daughter have never met your parents.

What have I done to hear this?

The government doesn't have money and resources to solve my crises? But they have money to finance a royal wedding? They have money for everything else?

I spoke to the Migration Agency last week again and the answer was that I have to wait one more year. I'm frustrated and emotionally unstable, I try to start every day as a normal day but it is hard and it doesn't get better. Every week I try to call the Migration Agency, sometimes I wait on the phone for hours just to hear “WE CAN'T DO ANYTHING”.

This opinion piece was written for The Local by Zeeshan Khan.