Photo Credit : IOM / Olivier Spree
Tavish migrated from Sri Lanka to Germany in 1992 and then moved to the Netherlands in 2000, trying to follow his two sisters' footsteps who successfully applied for Asylum. Eleven reception centers and one administrative detention facility later, he's still here. Still with no papers.
"If I wouldn't have gone to Belgium for two months in 2006, I would have had a residence permit by now," Tavish explains.
In 2007, the Netherlands decided to put into effect an amnesty provision legalizing a large group of rejected asylum seekers who had been in the country for a considerable amount of time. Tavish met all the criteria but one: he was not in the country uninterruptedly for more than six years.
"I was so close to a legal life," Tavish says with a soft voice. He pays regular visits to his two sisters who live in different parts of the country. He increasingly depends on them financially, since it became harder to find a job in the informal economy.
In his early fifties, he sometimes feels the pressure to make up his mind: continue life under the radar or start anew in Sri Lanka. "I could try to make use of my experience and start my own small Chinese restaurant", Tavish says. "And my mother is almost eighty years old now, so... It was hard to lose my father a few years ago and not being able to attend his funeral."