HERLEV, Denmark – A Danish-Filipino couple is hanging on to hope that an online petition would help them stay together as a family in Denmark.
Thomas Jørgensen and wife Stephanie’s family reunification application was first denied in 2016 and again in February this year.
“I just want a complete family life, and not putting burden to the system. Just take care of ourselves and nothing else,” Thomas told ABS-CBN Balitang Global.
The couple met three and half years ago at a party in Copenhagen when Stephanie was an Au-pair. Everything was perfect, until he was struck by testicular cancer in 2015.
After his surgery, his A-Kasse (unemployment fund) under his trade union was supposed to shoulder his benefits, but due to inaccuracies, it was the municipality that provided him with financial support while he was unable to work.
“I thought she will leave me when I was diagnosed [with] cancer, but she did not. She stayed and never left my side. That’s the moment when I told to myself that she is the one,” Thomas said.
Despite his illness, the couple was blessed with a child, and Thomas decided to marry Stephanie and apply for family reunification when he was re-employed after his illness.
But on Feb. 6, the couple received a letter from the Danish Immigration Service ordering Stephanie to leave Denmark by the 13th without her daughter, who was 9-months old at the time.
“Isang linggo lang ang ibinigay sa akin ng Immigration, may pneumonia pa ang anak ko, na-dede pa siya sa akin. Sobrang stress ko, hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko.” Stephanie said.
“Our daughter went directly from breast to bottle-feeding. So when I slept with her at night, I will wake up and she was sucking on my nose or elbow,” said Thomas.
Danish Immigration Service denied their application for family reunification as Thomas received public benefit after his cancer operation.
Under Danish law, the spouse must not receive cash assistance over the past three years under the Act on Active Social Policy or Integration Act.
“The rules are precisely made for people who cannot support themselves. Thomas, despite his cancer, after his surgery, he was able to put himself together and was able to get back to work and support his family. It is there that I think the politicians should review the rules because it affects lots of family and people,“ said the family’s legal counsel, Louise Bott Traberg Smidt.
Stephanie returned to Denmark on May 15 on a tourist visa. She must leave Denmark with her daughter when her visa expires on August 14. The last option that she has is to find a job with an income of 35,000 Danish crowns per month, or P261,000.
But the former elementary school teacher from Bohol province admitted that finding a high-paying job would be difficult.
Thomas and Stephanie have also appealed to the Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Støjberg. Unfortunately, they have yet to receive a response.
To help the family, their friends started an online petition addressed to Danish Immigration.
So far, the petition now has 159 supporters out of the 200 needed signatures.