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Deported sales engineer told he can't return to Sweden

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Deported sales engineer told he can't return to Sweden
Ali Omumi and his family. Photo: Private
13:27 CET+01:00
Iranian sales engineer Ali Omumi, who was forced to leave Sweden over a former employer's error, has now been stopped by the Migration Agency from returning to work in the country.

Omumi, 38, left Sweden with his family earlier this year after the Migration Agency rejected his work permit renewal because one of his previous employers had made "a clear administrative error" related to his insurance.

He and his current employer – engineering giant ABB – criticized the decision but believed that Omumi would be able to return to Sweden after applying for a new permit from abroad, which is allowed.

But the Migration Agency has now rejected his new work permit request – which was submitted two months after Omumi left Sweden – stating that it had received it "too soon after the deportation".

The decision does not say how long Omumi has to wait before he is allowed to come back to Sweden and ABB, but Centre for Justice – which is appealing his case in court – accuses the Migration Agency of having applied an informal "six-month rule" which the centre argues is not supported by Swedish law or legal precedent.

"We have a situation where the Migration Agency is putting Ali Omumi and other key employees at Swedish companies in a kind of 'talent quarantine' abroad, referring to a made-up rule that even people within the Migration Agency itself have distanced themselves from. It is hard to imagine any more arbitrary exercise of authority," Johannes Forssberg, a lawyer at Centre for Justice, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It was difficult enough for me and my family to be deported from Sweden because I lacked certain insurances in my time with a past employer, several years ago. When I got the decision from the Migration Agency that I am also not allowed to come back to Sweden and ABB because of this I could not believe it was true," said Omumi in a statement. "Neither I nor ABB has done anything wrong."

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Sweden's government this year stopped working on a long-awaited new law to prevent talented international workers from being denied permits for minor administrative errors. 

It justified this decision by arguing that a December ruling from the Swedish Migration Court of Appeal now required the Migration Agency to look at the entirety of an individual's case when making decisions, meaning small administrative errors should not result in deportations. 

But Omumi's original work permit renewal earlier this year was rejected despite that December ruling, with the Migration Agency saying at the time that even when looking at the overall case, his employment conditions at the previous employer had not been in keeping with union agreements or common industry practice.

Sweden's strict rules in the area are designed to stop workers from being exploited but have led to thousands of foreigners being forced to leave the country over minor errors in their paperwork. Many have also slammed the overly strict interpretation of the rules, with Liberal member of parliament Mats Persson taking Omumi's case to parliament earlier this year after reading his story on The Local.

The politician hit out at the new decision on Wednesday, telling The Local: "This is completely unreasonable. It is outrageous that hard-working people are being deported from Sweden. The law has to be changed."

The Local has contacted the Migration Agency for a comment.

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