Star developer loses fight against deportation from Sweden

The star developer who was told to leave Sweden because of an administrative error by a previous employer has lost his case at Stockholm's Migration Court.

Star developer loses fight against deportation from Sweden
Tayyab Shabab has been fighting a decision not to grant him a new visa over an admin error. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Pakistan native Tayyab Shabab is described as a “world class talent” and has a steady job as an app developer in Sweden, but last year he had an application for a work permit extension rejected by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) because a previous employer forgot to take out occupational pension insurance for him.

The fight to prevent his deportation was backed by huge names in the tech world including Spotify founder Daniel Ek, and also provoked an online petition signed by more than 10,000 people including The Local's CEO Paul Rapacioli. With the help of non-profit organization Centre for Justice, Shabab launched an appeal against Migrationsverket's decision.

On Tuesday however, the Migration Court in Stockholm delivered its judgment that Shabab and his wife should be deported from Sweden on the grounds of the error his previous employer made.

“I heard the decision from my lawyer today and felt really sad, I'm really disappointed now,” he told The Local.

“I was quite optimistic and didn't expect it. Things were moving in a positive direction, there was a lot of media hype, the government was even proposing new rules, so I thought that seeing as it was all going in a positive direction I'd get a positive decision from the court. I wasn't expecting it at all.”

READ ALSO: Show of support for tech talent told to leave Sweden

The court was split in its decision: two of the four members assessed that Shabab should be allowed to stay in Sweden, but as a result the final say was decided by the chair of the court, who agreed with Migrationsverket's interpretation of the rules.

The developer has now been told that he has four weeks to leave Sweden unless he decides to appeal the decision further to the highest migration court in Sweden, the Migration Court of Appeal (Migrationsöverdomstolen).

“There's the possibility of appealing higher in three weeks. I don't know about it yet though because I have to discuss it with my lawyer and my company, then we'll decide,” he explained.

READ ALSO: Foreign workers form human chain to stop deportations

Shabab has lived in Sweden since 2013. He moved to the Nordic country to do a masters degree in computer science before going on to work in the tech industry. His previous employer made an admin error when trying to take out occupational pension insurance for him, based on which Migrationsverket said he could not be granted a new visa last year.

That is despite his employer at the time offering to correct the mistake by paying for the necessary insurance in retrospect. His current employer, Dynamo, has always insisted that he is a top talent within his field.

“A lot of people have spoken to me, and there's been a lot of support from colleagues, friends and the media. I don't know why the court still thinks it's my mistake and I should be rejected. That's crazy, to me. I don't feel good at all right now,” he sighed.

“In the last few months a lot of people have contacted me who are going through the same problems. There are a lot of problems for small startups – new companies sometimes don't know the exact rules for international people.”

Debate about Sweden's overzealous interpretation of work permit rules and deportations on the grounds of small errors grew so strong at the end of 2016 that the government is currently considering changing them after being told by a parliamentary committee to do so.

For members


EXPLAINED: What do we know so far about Sweden’s new ‘talent visa’?

In the new work permit law which comes into force on June 1st, Sweden is launching a new nine-month 'talent visa', which will allow “some highly qualified individuals” to get temporary residency while they look for jobs or plan to launch a business. What do we know so far?

EXPLAINED: What do we know so far about Sweden's new 'talent visa'?

When was the law passed and when does it come into force? 

The parliament passed the new law on April 21st, and the final text of the change in the law was published on May 5th. It will come into force on June 1st. 

What does the new law say about the ‘talent visa’? 

It says that “in certain cases”, a temporary residency permit can be granted to a foreigner who wants to “spend time in the country to look for work or to look into the possibility of starting a business”. 

To qualify the applicant must: 

  • have completed studies equivalent to an advanced level degree 
  • have sufficient means to support themselves during their stay and to cover the cost of their return trip 
  • have fully comprehensive health insurance which is valid in Sweden 

How long can people initially stay in Sweden under the talent visa? 

The residency permit will be valid for a maximum of nine months.

Which agency will assess applications for the talent visa? 

The government has decided that applications should be assessed by the Migration Agency. The Migration Agency will publish more details on the requirements, such as what qualifies as an advanced degree, what documents need to be submitted, and how much capital applicants will need to show they can support themselves, in the coming weeks. 

The Migration Agency is also likely to develop a form for those wishing to apply for the talent visa. 

What level of education is necessary? 

What is meant by an “advanced degree” has not been set ou in the law, but according to Karl Rahm, who has helped draw up the law within the Ministry of Justice, a master’s degree (MA or MSc), should be sufficient. 

How much capital will applicants need to show that they have? 

According to Rahm, the amount of money applicants will need to show that they have is likely to be set at the same level as the minimum salary for those applying for a work permit, which is currently 13,000 kronor a month. If he is right, this means that someone applying for a nine-month visa would have to show that they have 117,000 kronor (€11,259) in saved capital, plus extra for their trip back to their home country.

READ ALSO: How will the new work permit law just passed in Sweden affect foreigners?

Can applicants bring children and spouses? 

“You will not be able to bring your family with this kind of visa, since the idea is that it’s for a relatively limited amount of time,  just to see if there is employment for you, or if there is a chance of starting a business,” says Elin Jansson, deputy director at the Ministry of Justice, who helped work on the new visa. “And if you do decide to stay in Sweden, then you apply for a regular work permit for starting up a business, and then you can bring your family.” 

Where will detailed information on the requirements for a talent visa be published? 

The Migration Agency will publish detailed requirements on the talent visa on its Working in Sweden page when the law starts to apply on June 1st. 

What is the reason for the talent visa? 

Those searching for a job or researching starting a new business in Sweden can already stay for up to 90 days with a normal Schengen visa. The idea behind the talent visa is to give highly educated foreigners a little longer to decide if they want to find a job or set up a business in the country before they need to go the whole way and launch a company. 

How many people are expected to apply? 

In the government inquiry on the new work permit law, experts estimated that about 500 people would apply for the new talent visa each year, but it could end up being either much more, or less. 

“It’s really hard to tell. There could be a really big demand. I don’t think it’s anyone can really say before this comes into effect,” Jansson said.