Permanent residence

In Denmark, all kinds of residence permit are initially granted as temporary, valid for 1 to 2 years, depending on the type of residence permit. Convention status is granted for 2 years, family reunification for 2 years, and the two kinds of protection status for 1 year. Then, the refugee has to apply for an extension, this is not done automatically, and it is important to meet the deadline. If a person’s residence permit expires then the person has to re-apply, i.e. travel to her/his country of origin and apply from there. It can take several months to process an extension. 

After 8 years of legal residency in Denmark (the period as an asylum seeker does not count), a person can apply for a permanent residence permit. In order to achieve this, the person has to fulfill a number of different criteria in terms of Danish language skill, work/education, and crime.

Permanent residency means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not have to apply for a residence permit again – but if the person comits an act of crime then she/he can be deported. If a person applies for family reunification and is not a refugee, it is a requirement that the person has been permanent resident for at least 3 years.  

The last few tightenings of the demands mean that it has almost become impossible for refugees to obtain permanent residency. In 2016 it was only 385 in total who achieved it, and during the first 9 months of 2017, the number was as low as 126. The number is much higher for family reunified persons.

NEW RULES applied from May 15th 2017:

(old rules apply for applications submitted before March 1. 2017)

You can get permanent residency no matter which kind of residence permit you have. You must pay a fee of 3,600 DKR to apply.

Basic requirements (must all be met):

  • You must still meet the requirements for the residence permit you hold. 
  • You must be over the age of 18.
  • You must have resided legally in Denmark for at least 8 years.  If you meet all of the 4 supplementary requirements (see below) you only have to have resided legally in Denmark for at least 4 years.
  • You must not have committed certain types of crime.
  • You must not have any overdue public debts unless you have been granted an extension of the repayment of the debt.
  • You must not have received public benefits within the last 4 years under the terms of the Active Social Policy Act or the Integration Act.
  • You have to accept a Declaration of integration and active citizenship in Danish society.
  • You must have passed the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2) or a Danish language test of an equivalent or higher level.
  • You must have held a regular full-time employment or been self-employed for at least 3 years and 6 months within the last 4 years.
  • You must still be working at the time when the Danish Immigration Service decides the case.

Supplementary requirements (at least two of the following have to be met as well):

  • You must have passed an active citizen exam test or have exhibited active citizenship in Denmark.
  • You must have held a regular full-time employment or been self-employed for at least 4 years within the last 4 years and 6 months.
  • You must have had a yearly taxable income that over the last 2 years has been DKK 275.400 (2017 level) or above on average.
  • You must have passed the Danish language test 3 (Prøve i Dansk 3) or a Danish language test of an equivalent or higher level.

    The 4 supplementary requirements are equally ranked and therefore it is insignificant which 2 of 4 requirements you meet. If you meet all 4 supplementary requirements, you can be granted a permanent residence permit after having resided legally in Denmark for at least 4 years.

The easier access for refugees has been abolished, so that now everybody has to meet the same requirements. The only way to dispensation is a documented, permanent disability which makes it impossible to meet some of the requirements (the Convention for Disabilities can be used here).

Quarantine period for criminal behaviour is 6 years in the event of a suspended sentence and 15 years in the event of a jail sentence of more than 60 days in duration. With a sentence of 6 months incarceration, you are permanently disqualified for permanent residency.

Permanent residency is a pre-requisite when applying for citizenship and the Danish passport citizenship bestows. You must also have had permanent residency for 3 years before you can apply for family reunification (unless you have been granted asylum and still have need of protection).