No visa yet for new visa attaché

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A top Norwegian politician who’s won awards for his efforts to promote integration can’t begin in his new job as a visa attaché at Norway’s embassy in India, because the Indian embassy in Oslo still hasn’t granted visas either to him or his family. Abid Raja, who was born in Norway to immigrant parents from Pakistan, hopes his ethnic background isn’t the reason that his visa hasn’t materialized.

Abid Raja, shown here with the head of Norway's Liberal Party, Trine Skei Grande, still hasn't received a visa to work at Norway's embassy in India, four months after he applied. PHOTO: Venstre

“I’m a brown Norwegian, both my wife and I are born and reared in Norway, our children know only the Norwegian reality,” Raja told newspaper VG. “I’m employed with security clearance to take on the honorable job as embassy secretary in the world’s largest democracy (India). I really hope that politics aren’t the reason that my visa still hasn’t been issued.”

Raja, a former attorney and reserve member of the Norwegian Parliament for the Liberal Party (Venstre), was offered the job by Norway’s Foreign Ministry last December and he applied for a visa to India in March. The ministry’s website claims that normal visa processing time is six days, perhaps five extra days for Norwegians who aren’t “ethnic Norwegian.”

Abid Raja speaking at a Liberal Party youth summer camp, on immigration and integration issues. Raja won of Norway's biggest prizes, the "Fritt Ord" prize, for his work to promote integration. PHOTO: Venstre

Nearly four months later, no issue has come. Raja was supposed to start working at Norway’s embassy in India this week. His wife has quit her job as a psychologist, their children have studied English and the family already has rented out their home and sold their car in anticipation of the move to India that should already have taken place. But with no visa, they’re all still in Oslo.

Ragnhild Imerslund, communications chief at the Norwegian ministry told VG there were “other rules” for Norwegians who planned to work in India. “Raja hasn’t received his visa,” she confirmed. “He’ll assume his post as soon as this is in order. We are following this up in the normal way with the Indian authorities.”

Officials at the Indian Embassy wouldn’t comment on the case. Foreign ministry officials had told VG last December that they hadn’t foreseen any problems because of Raja’s Pakistani roots. “Such foreign policy evaluations aren’t central to this type of position,” a foreign ministry official told VG at the time.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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