Diarra King, an American citizen living in Norway with a Norwegian wife and child, faced being expelled and sent back to the US on Friday. There he must remain, according to Norwegian immigration officials, until he’s eligible to reapply for residence permission after he made errors in his application process.
“I made a mistake,” admits King, but he claims his punishment is far too severe, and many agree. “Two years is a very long time for a small child, especially when the child is accustomed to seeing its father every day,” family therapist Gjertrud Jonassen told state broadcaster NRK.
King came to Norway in 2009 after marrying Nina Finkenhagen King. They settled in the city of Porsgrunn on Norway’s southern coast and had a daughter. When King’s temporary residence permission expired he applied for the customary extension in 2012 but lacked a passport and was told he couldn’t reapply until he had a new passport. He then reapplied in 2015, finally receiving a notice earlier this month that he must leave the country because he allegedly had been residing in the country illegally.
King admits that he was too late in applying for residence extension and that he didn’t follow up his application closely enough. “But two years (expulsion) is too much,” he said.
Officials at state immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) claim he could have been expelled for five years, under the law, and that his family could move with him back to the US and live there until he can apply for new residence permission in Norway. “But that’s not possible,” his wife Nina told NRK. “I have a son (from an earlier relationship) and can’t leave the country with him.”
While King was packing his bags on Friday, an attorney for the family was preparing an appeal and, if necessary, a legal complaint, while a petition for his Norwegian residence (external link) was gathering support online. UDI was holding firm, claiming King had applied through the agency’s online service, received messages about how to proceed and “should have understood that his permission was not in order.”