My Dream of Family Reunification26. 4. 13
My sad story started in November of 2011. In August 2011, I was so excited after receiving a message from the European Commission informing me that I have been selected for the Erasmus Mundus scholarships program. I was so excited and thrilled. So, I lodged my visa application (for Poland) and obtained my visa. Later I filled a visa application for my pregnant wife, and when I went to the Polish consulate in Baghdad/ Iraq, (travelling from Tikrit which is 140 km northwest of Baghdad) to submit the application I was tremendously shocked when the Iraqi employee who is working at the Polish consulate, told me that the Polish consular gave an instructions not to receive any visa applications of the students’ families. I had been travelling from Tikrit to Baghdad many times for long hours due to the many check point set up on the streets and barricades to reach the Green Zone.
I tried many times to convince him to take the application but he abstained. So, after many failed attempts in obtaining visa for my pregnant wife, I had to leave Iraq alone to resume my study at the University of Warsaw, hoping that things would change one day and my wife can join me to Poland. So, I left her in a miserable situation. She was in a great need from me. It was our first baby. So, I packed my bags and came on October 2011 to Poland and resumed my study, but I was in a great loss.
Then, after finishing my first year, I went back on June 2012 to Iraq to take care of my wife and attend the baby’s birth. The baby was born in July 2012. I named her Lara. I just spent three months with my wife and my baby. During that time, I was trying my best in meeting the Polish consular to explain to him that I am not intending to migrate to Poland but all was in vain. I collected so many documents which confirm that I am a fully funded student (€ 1500 per month, health insurance, travel fees, bank statement states that I have in my account more than $ 23.000, a statement from the Iraqi consulate confirms that I would get a stipend $ 3600 per month, which equal to 11.501 Zloty) and tried to submit them to the Polish consular but in vain, the Iraqi employees refused to receive them according to the instructions set by the Polish consular.
In no way, my family would be a burden on the Polish society. Furthermore, since I am an official employee (university professor) I had to make a collateral/ guarantee (in Iraq) it makes my going back to Iraq a must upon finishing my study here in Poland to resume my job there as a university professor. Unfortunately, my attempts were not successful, neither those of my colleagues. My colleagues (who are fully funded by the Iraqi government) gave up coming to Poland and they moved their studies to other countries like U.S., U.K, Germany and France because it is easy to obtain a visa from those countries for students’ families than the Polish visa! But, unfortunately, it was not the case with me. That is, my scholarship is funded by the European Commission and my admission was secured to me by the European Commission at the University of Warsaw. So, unlike my colleagues (who are funded completely by the Iraqi government) I am not allowed to move my study to another country. In other words, I am obliged to stay in Poland.
My stipend was stopped during those three months which I spent in Iraq because as an Erasmus Mundus student, I should have not left the European Union more than one month. After so many failed attempts, I gave up my attempts in obtaining visa for my two girls (my wife but my three months old baby) and I had to leave for Poland (for the second time alone). I came back to Poland in October 2012 because I had to resume my study, otherwise my scholarship would be canceled.
On the July 1st, 2013, my baby turned one year and I am away from her! She had her first birthday without me. If you were in my place, how would you feel? Parted from your wife and baby for such a long time!
I am in a full scholarship, funded by the European Commission (Erasmus Mundus Program). Furthermore, the Iraqi government will fully fund my wife and baby expenditures while they are here in Warsaw. Many of our colleagues, who have been awarded scholarships and applied for Polish visa, have quitted the idea of coming to Poland. They chose other countries, because they do not want to be parted from their families. They do not want to subject to the separation policy adopted by the current Polish consular in Moreover, the policy of not issuing/ granting visas to the student’s families, made Poland lose an important source of funds. As you would notice, the Iraqi government grants huge funds to its students studying abroad. Such funds would have a positive effect on the economic growth of Poland.
Unfortunately, all my attempts were in vain, the Polish consular keeps refusing to receive the visa applications of the families. It is really sad situation. It is a pity, when I see that a University professor like me, who had been to USA (as a teacher at Ramapo College of New Jersey and had the opportunity to stay there), a Fulbright alumni, and have been in many European countries cannot secure Polish visa to his wife and daughter due to the personal policy of the Polish consular in Baghdad towards the Iraqi students’ families!
For me, the Polish consular’s (in Baghdad) behavior is a violation to Article 8th of the European Convention on Human Rights: “Right to Family Life”. Moreover, the Iraqi employees (who are working in the Polish consulate/ Baghdad) behave badly with all visa applicants. As you may know, the visa applicants have to wait outside the Green Zone in the street or inside a fence (like animals’ cage) within the concrete fence of the Green Zone. We are simply abused by this conduct.
This story is one among many of stories of the Iraqi students who came to Poland for their studies. Some of them were lucky; they succeeded in moving their studies to other countries and some are not!
I am planning to travel to Iraq in July, and I am totally scared of the idea that my daughter will not recognize me. Will I be able to bring them with me to Poland? Will my dream come true?
I am wondering, how the Polish consular would feel if he were in my place? To be parted from his family, would he be happy?
This article is one of the migrants’ contributions to the project Migration to the Centre.
The article has been written with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union and the International Visegrad Fund. The article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
 The Green Zone is the most common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. It is a 10 square kilometers (3.9 sq mi) area of central Baghdad, Iraq, that was the governmental center of the Coalition Provisional Authority and remains the center of the international presence (embassies, consulates, and international organizations and corporations) in the city.