Ali Omumi, from Iran, had his appeal rejected by Sweden's Migration Court on April 27, even though the court acknowledged in its judgement that he had been the victim of “a clear administrative error by the employer”.
“When I opened the letter I couldn't believe my eyes,” Omumi told The Local. “I am confused and shocked. My wife, who studied law, repeatedly tells me that a punishment must be proportional to the mistake — a mistake which, in this case, I have not even made myself.”
In its judgement, the court referenced December's landmark judgement from the Migration Court of Appeal, which requires migration officials to take an “overall assessment” in cases involving bureaucratic errors such as Omumi's.
But the court said it had nonetheless decided to refuse to renew the 38-year-old's permit .
“The Migration Agency considers that, even taking an overall assessment, the employment conditions have not been in keeping with union agreements or common practice within the industry,” it ruled.
Bengt Isman, Omumi's lawyer, said the ruling was a worrying sign that the migration court was adopting the narrowest possible interpretation of the judgement in the so-called “pizza baker case“.
“I was very surprised. From my point of view it's a ridiculous decision,” he said. “Next week we’ll be appealing to the Court of Appeal.”
In the December ruling, the court advised the agency not to refuse permits as a result of small administrative errors that employers had spotted and tried to fix.
In March, Sweden's government said it was cancelling plans for a new work permit law because the pizza baker verdict had already solved the key issues.
Omumi's problems go back to the failure of the software startup which gave him his first job in Sweden back in 2015 to complete documentation for his pension and health insurance, and also the fact that it let him work for three weeks before getting life and accident insurance.
“According to the contract I had all four insurances, and I also asked my employer verbally a couple of times, saying, 'do I have this insurance? And they said 'yes, sure',” Omumi said.
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It was only when he moved to Vestas, the wind turbine manufacturer, and his new employer asked for documentation, that he discovered that two of the insurance policies his employer believed they had arranged with the insurance company had never in fact been signed.
“He was like 'oh my god, two are missing', Omumi told The Local.
The software company succeeded in retroactively fixing Omumi's pension for the time he worked for them, but was unable to do so with the health insurance as no insurance companies was willing to insure him for a period that had already passed.
The Migration Court in its judgement said Omumi should not have his permit renewed in part because the software company had not fixed its original error.
Omumi believes that the insurance issuer mishandled the policies, because it is a bank for whom insurance is not a core business.
“It was the insurance company that messed it up,” he said. “I was 100 percent innocent and my first employer was also 100 percent innocent.”
But his employer has not able to prove that it was unaware that Omumi was working without the correct insurance.
Omumi, who was in charge of Vestas' bid management for Northern Europe before moving to ABB, claims to have had job offers from companies in Austria, The Netherlands, and Germany.
“I have opportunities,” he said. “I have an added value for a country or a company.”
But he wants to stay in Sweden, partly because his four-year-old daughter already speaks the language, and partly because his wife's father and sister live in the country.
“It's a big challenge for someone that young to learn a third language, and its also a lot of stress for her to move.”