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Five minutes with Sofie Abrahamson...

... lecturer at IKK, the Department of Culture and Communication, and involved in the case of Syed Latif, who studied Swedish at LiU and was deported for getting a job via LinkedIn.

Sofie AbrahamsonA few years ago, you had an enterprising student who came to LiU after his degree in business economy to study Swedish. That was Syed Latif, who has now been deported and is back in Bangladesh after having gotten a job without the involvement of Arbetsförmedlingen.

“It’s completely absurd. Naturally, we teachers at IKK have discussed this case numerous times. Many of us here are appalled,” Ms Abrahamson says.

You are one of the references Mr Latif cites. How did this come about?

“It often happens that students who are here for intensive courses in Swedish ask us if we’d like to stand as references. They find themselves in a new country where they don’t know how the system works, or have any functional networks. We are usually willing to help.”

And you were, when Mr Latif asked. You’ve also kept in touch with him since then, and are following his battle to come back to Sweden.

“Syed contacted me when he received the decision that he wouldn’t be allowed to stay. He asked for advice. A few of my colleagues and I pulled what strings we could. We tried to procure information via our contacts at the Migration Board, and through our own circles of acquaintances. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could contribute.”

As a teacher on the access course in Swedish, you are close to the students. Are they all equally as involved, or is Mr Latif special?

“Each student has their own history; they’re all special. We get to follow their linguistic development and how they build new lives in a new homeland. Being allowed to be a part of that, and being able to help, is fantastic. The students come here for many different reasons.

“But yes, Syed is special. An unbelievably enterprising person. As a student, he was incredibly ambitious, always did his homework well, and was looking for a job right from the start. On a couple of occasions, he excused himself: ‘Sofie, I have to leave in fifteen minutes – I’m expecting a call about a job’... it was a bit unusual, but he also already gotten a job after half the course.”

Syed Latif at home in BangladeshMr Latif’s case has had a major impact in the mass media and on social media, and has ended up as an example in a central interpellation in Parliament. He paid for his education himself, established himself properly with a permanent job, and was mentioned in principle as a model citizen.How did you notice that?

“Syed’s involvement was immediately visible to others. He often helped his fellow students and involved himself in Red Cross tutoring here in Linköping. I remember how glad he was when he got the chance there to explain grammatical rules to others: ‘No, that’s a subordinate clause, the sentence adverb comes before the verb...’

When he got the job in Malmö, he started a language café in Skurup. Typical Syed. He is a person who does so much for others.”

Mr Latif was denied a residence permit because he got a job that was announced on LinkedIn, and not on Arbetsförmedlingen and Eures, the European job portal.

“It’s bizarre. How could a job seeker know about regulations like those? For people like us who work with students from all corners of the globe, it just feels strange that the largest job portal on the Internet wouldn’t be approved by the Migration Board. Now Syed’s being punished after having worked here for a year and a half, and having built a life in Sweden.

“But I’m quite convinced that Syed will be coming back. He’s not the kind who gives up.”


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Last updated: 2017-02-13