A child born to parents from Serbia and Montenegro has been denied a residence permit in Iceland, but has been issued an Icelandic identification number (kennitala) and cannot be deported. The situation contradicts what the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) had told the parents when they were still expecting their child, and effectively prevents them from ever leaving the country with their child, as he would be barred from entry upon return. The mother of the child in question spoke with Grapevine about what has been a confusing and frustrating experience.
The story first appeared in Fréttablaðið, and Grapevine contacted Isidora Glišić, the mother of one-year-old Filip Ragnar Dusansson Glišić, about the matter.
“The decision from ÚTL was very odd,” Isidora told Grapevine. “My lawyer was shocked. She said that she had never seen this kind of wording in an official document. It’s like they’re implying we [had a child in Iceland] to break the law, which is very troubling.” She adds: “I would honestly like to know if [Prime Minister] Katrín Jakobsdóttir agrees with this kind of wording and decision, and if this represents the official policy of her government.”
She and her boyfriend came to Iceland together in 2015, both on student visas, and had Filip Ragnar two years later. They did initial consultation with immigration authorities when she learned she was pregnant.
“I called them when I got pregnant, and I was told that whatever rights the parents had, the child will have the same rights,” she told us. “But then I was actually wondering what to apply for, so I read the Law on Foreigners, which was renewed in the meantime so there was missing information when I got pregnant. Then I realised that I actually cannot apply for family reunification. That’s when I tried to contact them again, but they wouldn’t respond to my emails.”
Frustrated, Isidora turned to social workers and related parties, who contacted ÚTL on her behalf. When ÚTL responded at last, during the summer, they learned the truth of the matter was far different from what they were originally told be ÚTL.
“They were all really shocked to find out that we’re not allowed to have children,” she says. “Nobody knew about this provision in the law.”
Isidora is from Serbia and her partner, Dusan, is from Montenegro. Neither of these countries are in the EEA, which is why they have to apply for residence permits in the first place. The Law on Foreigners states that students who are in BA studies and not from the US are excluded from the right to apply for a permit for family members. There is nothing specific in the law about children being born in Iceland apart from the fact that he cannot be deported.
Of particular note is the fact that the National Registry issued Filip Ragnar a kennitala, as is done automatically when a child is born in Iceland. “This is the strange thing,” Isidora says. “He’s going to playschool now, but he can’t leave the country, because they won’t let him back in without a residence permit. Nobody told us ‘you’re not supposed to have this child here’ while I was pregnant.”
“We can’t do much in the meantime,” she says. “We just hope that nothing happens to anybody back home so we’d have to travel there. We’d have to leave the baby behind if we did. So no visiting our families until whenever this gets resolved.”
The matter has been referred to the Immigration Appeals Board. Their decision is still pending.