The asylum procedure in Denmark
Most asylum seekers travel to Denmark on their own. The first step is for the asylum seeker to register at Center Sandholm in Allerød. The Danish police will take a photo of the asylum seeker and take her/his fingerprints. The asylum seeker is then asked to state her/his name, date of birth, and country of origin. The police will issue an asylum seeker card, which serves as her/his personal ID. After the registration, the asylum seeker will be accommodated by Danish Red Cross.
After a short time, the asylum seeker will be summoned to fill out a written asylum application with the Danish Immigration Service in Center Sandholm or in the camp. This can be done in any language. Shortly after, the asylum seeker will be summoned to her/his first interview with Danish Immigration Service where an interpreter will be present. Right now there is many months of waiting time before this first interview due to the high numbers of new arrivals. Immigration Service has hired more staff recently and are trying to bring down the waiting times. Usually, the interview will last for 3-5 hours. To begin with, the Danish Immigration Service will determine which of the four procedures the asylum case will follow: the Dublin procedure (see more under Dublin Regulation), the Manifestly unfounded procedure, the Manifest permission procedure, or the Normal procedure.
PHASE 1 (arrival):
• Very low cash allowance, food provided by the cafeteria
• No internship or education
• Living at the arrival center Sandholm or other reception camp
If the asylum seeker holds a visa, has close family members in EU, or her/his fingerprints have been registered by a country that is part of the Dublin Regulation, then the asylum seeker’s case will follow the Dublin procedure. Denmark will request the country that will take on the asylum case. The asylum seeker can file a complaint about the Danish Immigration Service’s ruling and the Danish Refugee Council (Dansk Flygtningehjælp) has a special office that can assist with these complaints. The Refugee Appeals Board (Flygtningenævnet) rule on complaint cases and the decision will very rarely be changed.
If the case is not considered a Dublin case, the asessment of the case will begin in Denmark. Now the asylum seeker is considered to be in phase 2 and will be moved to an accommodation center.
PHASE 2 (consideration of the case):
• Move to accommodation center
• Money to household expenses depending on the center, cash allowance (pocket money)
• Internship + language education (Danish or English)
Manifestly Unfounded cases (ÅG or ÅGH). A case is determined to be manifestly unfounded if the asylum seeker’s country of origin hardly ever leads to asylum or if the asylum seeker’s grounds for seeking asylum are deemed to be patently weak or invalid. The asylum case is rejected further consideration. The Danish Refugee Council can impose veto in all Manifestly Unfounded cases and will call the asylum seeker in for a meeting. Yet, in the majority of MU cases the Council agrees to the rejection and thus, the asylum case cannot be appealed to the Refugee Appeals Board (Flygtningenævnet). Asylum seekers whose case has been determined to be manifestly unfounded do not receive any cash allowance and are required to live at a center with a cafeteria.
Manifest Permission is a new and faster procedure for processing asylum cases and with this procedure the asylum seeker is very likely to be granted asylum. The procedure sometimes only requires one interview. Manifest permission cases are usually processed in a few months, depending on the general waiting time.
Most asylum cases go through the Normal procedure, which includes a second interview with the Danish Immigration Service, taking place after a few months. In this second interview, the asylum seeker will be asked to elaborate on her/his answers provided in the first interview and there might be results from investigations initiated after the first interview. If the ruling grants the asylum seeker asylum, the asylum seeker will be assigned to a municipality that holds the responsibility for overseeing the following 3 year integration period. The refugee can only move to another municipality after the end of this 3 year period, if she/he wants to.
If the ruling is a rejection of the asylum case, the case will automatically be appealed to the Refugee Appeals Board. The asylum seeker will be appointed a lawyer after her/his own choice. The lawyer will summon the asylum seeker to a meeting and prepare the case. Usually, the board meeting will take place several months after the rejection and the asylum seeker will attend in person together with her/his lawyer and an interpreter.
The Refugee Appeals Board consists of 5 members: The board’s chair is a judge, the remaining four members are appointed on the recommendation of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Council of the Danish Bar and Law Society, and the Danish Refugee Council. In practice, there are several boards working in tandem. In 2015, the board considered 1,481 cases and 21% of these rulings were reversed. Most of the rulings are unanimous. The board’s ruling is final and cannot be appealed. An asylum seeker whose case has been ruled on can apply to have her/his case reopened, but this will only happen if new important information has emerged after the ruling of the case – either in the form of personal circumstances, a change in the situation in the country of origin or a general change of practice in similar cases. See more under How is an asylum case determined?
PHASE 3 (if the asylum seeker has been rejected and does not co-operate with the deportation order):
• Move to departure center Sjælsmark or Kærshovedgaard (run by the Danish Prison and Probation Service)
• No cash allowance (pocket money)
• No internship
• Risk of imprisonment in the Ellebæk Prison
• Required to attend a weekly meeting with the police
Families with children used to have access to live in special housing accommodation outside the asylum center, if they had stayed several years in the asylum system, but this option was abolished in January 2016 and will be gradually stopped.
The majority of the rejected asylum seekers leave Denmark on their own or are otherwise deported within a year or two. However, a small group of asylum seekers live in the asylum centers for many years, up to 18 years. These long stays in the asylum centers can be caused by a number of potential factors but are most commonly caused by difficulties determining an asylum seeker’s identity and country of origin or by asylum seekers resisting her/his departure order. Read more about this topic in the report Asylum Camp Limbo and under Deportation hindrances.