NEWS

Getting a work permit for a 12-year-old

A few examples out of hundreds furnish an idea of what the migrants who wait in lines every day outside prefectural, municipal and regional government office have to go through. A man of 50 obtained a green card during the first wave of legalization. At some point he was unable to collect the vital number of insurance stamps needed to renew his permit. Making use of the provisions for keeping families together, he tried to retain his legal status as a family member under the protection of his wife, who had proof that she was employed. His wife obtained the family work permit, but the one-year residence permit never arrived. Only 5 percent of residence permits are issued on time and those related to such family cases are the last to be issued. A simple declaration from the local municipality that the permit is in abeyance has come to replace the residence permit for almost all migrants. But in family cases, the work permit cannot be given to the protected family member without the residence permit. Hence the husband never got a work permit and could not get insurance stamps. But every year he paid hefty fees for the permits and spent days waiting in lines and hoping. Last summer brought Law 3242/4000, providing an extension of time in which migrants could lodge their legalization applications. The husband went to the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and paid 1,500 euros to buy insurance stamps. Someone at IKA told him he had to pay another 500 euros for stamps. But nobody told him that even if he did buy the stamps, the prefecture would not give him a work permit without a certificate from his employer. Likewise, nobody told him that even if he did have a certificate from his employer, his application for a residence permit would be rejected because the law states that a migrant may only go once from the status of being a worker to the status of being a protected family member (by means of family unity), and that it is illegal to return to the status of a worker. Deportation While the 50-year-old bought 2,000 euros’ worth of stamps from IKA on his limited resources to no purpose, others are deported or at risk of deportation even though they are here legally. A Pole of 40 was arrested two years ago even though he had the official document certifying that he had submitted his application for a residence permit. While he was in prison, his lawyer renewed his documents and luckily the judge set him free. His sister, tried for the same offense in Piraeus, was deported. The lawyer went to the Public Order Ministry to have the deportation order quashed and filed a request to have the process expedited, but the police officer claimed that there was no provision for such a procedure, even though Law 3013/2002 does contain such a provision. The deportation order was quashed this year, after Poland joined the European Union. Article 66 of Law 2910/2001 stipulates that those who obtain residence permits as workers retain the status of workers. Article 67 stipulates that the legalization of the father or mother entails the legalization of their children. But prefectural offices were telling migrants that they had to declare their children according to Article 66 instead of Article 67, as workers, in other words, instead of protected family members. In fact, the municipalities would not accept applications based on Article 67: Heads of public service departments had illegally decided to shelve applications based on Article 67. So children as young as 12 ended up with work permits. Some of those children eventually went on to university where they had to enroll. The prefectures would not renew their residence permits because, being registered under Article 66, they could only remain legally in the country as workers. It was suggested that they return to their original countries and get study visas. Those who went abroad and got visas then came up against an official circular stating that the visa only lasted for the duration of their studies. So those students would become illegal after completing their studies in the country where they had grown up and would have to return to their country of origin, whose language, in some cases, they didn’t even know. The government solved this problem by an amendment published in the Government Gazette on October 19 this year which allows those concerned three months in which to get their papers organized. A month later, the official circular has still not yet been published and the municipalities have not yet started accepting applications.