In February 2015, the Danish government passed a new temporary protection status art. 7(3), particularly targeting Syrian refugees. It constitutes a weaker and shorter protection than art. 7(2) as it targets refugees who do not directly face a threat of persecuted 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) and not this new 1-year status art. 7(3). During 2015, only around 10% of the refugees in Denmark were granted this new status, and only connected to the war in Syria. But in 2016 this percentage has risen to 33%, and it has also been used for Somalis. The choice of status can be appealed to the Refugee Appeal Board, and out of the 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.
If granted this status art. 7(3) the asylum seeker obtains a 1-year residence permit and the asylum seeker does not have the right to apply for family reunification until it has been renewed and 3 years in total have passed. Yet exceptional circumstances can allow a waiver (a sick child or spouse who cannot take care of the children – and unaccompanied minors can apply immediately). When the 1-year period expires, the case will be reconsidered. If the asylum seeker is still in need of protection, the residence permit will be renewed for a 2-years period.
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. It is at odds with conventions’ statement of the right to family life, when Denmark consciously prevents family reunification in this way, which the Institute for Human Rights has called attention to. 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. It seems to have worked, as many refugees now have the impression that the new status will be for all refugees in Denmark, and therefore preferring Germany or Sweden.