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

Background

In 2015, the Danish parliament 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 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 three years, until a change of the law in 2020 it did 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 a clear right to get a divorce, which has led to contradicting decisions from courts and Familieretshuse (family case offices).

Family reunification cannot be applied for until three years of legal stay, which means two extensions. 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. However, the case has been sent to The European Court of Human Rights and is awaiting a ruling from the Grand Chamber.

Insecure residence status

Residence permit is only granted for one 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 two-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 hundreds of Somali refugees in a similar situation who lost their permits over the last couple of years. In the spring of 2019 Immigration Service revoked a handful of 7(3) permits to Syrians from Damascus, but the Refugee Appeals Board ended up giving most of them another kind of asylum. A larger number of Syrians from damascus with 7(3) will probably have tgheir permits revoked in the near future. This is done with reference to a report saying that the general security in the capital has improved. Before revoking a permit, the refugee will always be called in for interview, and the case must pass through the Refugee Appeals Board also, with free assistance from a lawyer.

Percentage and numbers

In 2019, the 7(3) status was used in 17% of all asylum permits – exclusively to cases from Syria – and it has also been used for Somalis during a certain period. 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.