As a matter of fact, refugees have always been granted temporary, time limited residence in Denmark. Only after a number of years and if you meet the other criteria can the residence become permanent. However, most refugees have in practice stayed in Denmark, because the permits have been extended unless they were given on false premises or the refugee has committed a crime.
This changed in 2015 under Helle Thorning’s government when the duration of the residence permits was shortened from 5-7 years to 1-2 years and also a new and even more temporary status for some of the refugees from Syria was introduced §7(3). The new §19,1 was also inserted, which opened up for revoking refugees’ residence permits if even small improvements in their home country could be seen. This clause led to 900 refugees from Somalia losing their residence last year – most of them had been legally in the country for 4-5 years.
The risk of getting an expulsion sentence has grown over the last couple of years, where the judges must expel a person in connection with prison sentences of only few months, and if it is a refugee who still has a need for protection, the person can end up on Tolerated Stay.
‘The Paradigm Shift’
The law which was recently passed as part of the Danish financial budget for 2019 has completely changed the focus from integration to return. From now on, all residence permits will have the wording “with the aim of temporary stay” and will only be extended as long as there is the same level of risk in the home country. Previously, integration and attachment to Denmark would be considered, in the form of work, education, language, family, time of residence etc. but this will no longer count as strongly for refugees.
All residence cards holding the wording “with the option of durable stay” will on extension be changed to the temporary phrasing. It is however still possible for everyone to apply for permanent residence, if and when you meet the criteria – which can seem confusing.
We have to assume that many more will lose their asylum status in Denmark in the future – even though they are self-supporting and speak Danish well. At the same time, it will not be possible to deport everyone within a short amount of time, because most conflicts, wars and dictatorships are long-lasting. For example Afghanistan, where a war has been going on for as long as anyone remembers – still getting worse. The civil war in Sri Lanka lasted for 30 years. In Iraq and Libya chaos is ruling. Iran and Eritrea have suppressing and violent dictatorships – and unfortunately very stable. In the light of this, many will still stay long enough to get permanent residence.
Unless your permit expires before the 30th of June 2019, you no longer have to apply for extension as a refugee yourself, Immigration Service will do this automatically now. But persons who have been family reunified with a refugee must still apply for the extension themselves! If you have been granted asylum after §7(1) it still takes a lot to lose the status. But Immigration Service could possibly make a new assessment that you no longer fall under §7(1) if, for example, the situation in Syria changes, and amnesty is given to people who fled from military service.
If you have been granted asylum on §7(2) or §7(3), even a slight improvement of the conditions in your home country can lead to your residence being revoked (including the people who got family reunification with you). But for §7(2) it depends on the reason why you were granted asylum.
If the authorities are considering to revoke your residence permit, you will get a letter from Immigration Service first and they will call you in for an interview. You can prepare for that interview, for example by contacting Refugees Welcome or other counsellors. A new motive for asylum could have occurred, or all information might not have come forward during the original interview. You can appeal the decision to The Refugee Appeals Board and you will get a lawyer for free to represent you. If you are at great risk of losing you residence permit as a refugee, you should consider if there are other options to stay: maybe trough family reunification or a work permit.
The rules for losing your residence permit on other grounds have also become stricter. You can only stay outside Denmark up to 6 months, regardless of your status and how long you have had it. If you stay out of Denmark for more than 6 months, give up your address in Denmark or travel to your home country as a refugee, your residence permit will lapse (be withdrawn). This does not apply for those who have permanent residence; and for those who already left Denmark before the law took effect the 1st of March 2019 the old time limits are still valid. If you want to stay outside Denmark for longer than 6 months, you can apply for a permit in advance.