More about art. 7(3): temporary protection status


In 2015, the Danish government passed a new temporary protection status art. 7(3), particularly targeting Syrian refugees. It constitutes a weaker protection than art. 7(2) as it targets refugees who do not have an individual asylum motive but have fled because of the general situation in their country of origin.  

We are here dealing with ‘the core’ of international protection. Denmark has not changed the criteria for obtaining asylum since 2001. However, the aim of the new status has probably been to deter refugees from seeking asylum in Denmark, because the vast majority of Syrians are still being granted convention status art. 7(1).

Fewer rights

It does not give acces to family reunification for the first 3 years, it does not give free access to higher education above the level of gymansium (see the article "More than 4,000 refugees in Denmark do not have access to free education"), and you can lose it as soon as your home country becomes just a little more safe. Besides, you don't have the right to get a divorce, which was recently ruled illegal in the court of Odense (May 2019).

Family reunification can only be applied for when the stay has been extended twice (in total 3 years of legal stay). Unaccompanied minors can however apply immediately. Adults can ask for dispensation if there are exceptional circumstances (a sick child or spouse who cannot take care of the children), but this is very strictly administered.

Many Syrian refugees have been forced to leave their spouse and children on their journey to Denmark, and usually, they stay in Turkish refugee camps or live under miserable conditions in Lebanon or Jordan. The Danish Institute for Human Rights has called attention to the government that there is a risk of violating the conventions here, but the Danish Supreme Court has appoved of the law since then. In addition, there is nothing to suggest that the current situation in Syria will be significantly improved in a year and thus, we must expect that this new regulation is an attempt to postpone the problem and deter Syrians from seeking asylum in Denmark. But since Denmark introduced the 3 years waiting time, 9 other European countries have done something similar.

Insecure residence status

Residence permit is only granted for 1 year initially, and when it expires, the stay will be reconsidered. If the asylum seeker is still in need of protection, the residence permit will be renewed for a 2-years period.

As this status is only granted because of the general conditions and not because of an individual asylum motive, it is easy to lose it again. We have seen this with 800 Somali refugees in a similar situation who lost their permits during 2018, and in the spring of 2019 Immigration Service has already revoked a handful of 7(3) permits to Syrians, now awaiting the decsion from the Refugee Appeals Board. The persons in concern are all from the Damascus province, and it was done with reference to a new report saying that the general security in the capital has improved.

Percentage and numbers

Around one third of the refugees are granted the 7(3) status (in 2017 it was 29%), and it has also been used for Somalis. In total, more than 4,000 persons have this status now.

The choice of status can be appealed to the Refugee Appeal Board, and out of 134 complaints in 2016 over 7(3) status, 26% were altered to 7(2) or 7(1). See more about the choice of status under Numbers and Statistics.

If we look at how the new status has been used since it was introduced in March 2015, it has mostly been given to women, men above 43 years and unaccompanied minors. Read more in the article Women in an asylum system for men.