Criteria for permanent residency will be tightened once again

More and more people forced into uncertainty concerning their future in Denmark

All residence permits in Denmark are, in the first instance, temporary. Family reunification is only granted for two years and last year, asylum was reduced from five years to either one or two years, depending on the status given. Children cannot apply for permanent residency but must follow their parents’ basis for residence.

During the Budget negotiations, the government made an agreement with Liberal Alliance, Dansk Folkeparti and Konservative that would see access to permanent residency being restricted even further, though the most recent restriction became effective as late as March 2016. Today, the concrete new proposal was published, with a hearing deadline on the 10th of February.

There is already a majority in favour of the proposal and hearing rounds rarely lead to changes in the text. Therefore, we can expect the law to come into practice on 1st May 2017, and that the new criteria will be applicable to all who apply after that date. Those who were just about to go over the six year limit, will now have to wait a further two years.

All of the criteria have been tightened, apart from those concerning language, declaration of citizenship, debt to the state and connection to the labour market at the time residency should be granted.

New restrictions:

1) Minimum 8 years legal residency (current requirement is 6 years)

2) Must not have received financial support such as integration benefit within the last 4 years (current requirement is 3 years)

3) Regular full-time employment or self-employed company for minimum 3.5 of the last 4 years (current requirement is 2.5 years within the last 3 years)

4) Quarantine period for criminal behaviour is extended to 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 (current quarantine periods are 4 and 12 years respectively)

5) With a sentence of 6 months incarceration, you are permanently disqualified for permanent residency (current limit is set at 1 year)

The actual system with a series of fixed criteria, and another series of supplementary ones, continues. If you can meet all of the fixed criteria, together with 4 of the supplementary ones, you can apply after 4 years legal residency. There will, however, be very few who can do this.

The process is still no easier for refugees than it is for other foreigners, but if you have proof of a disability or chronic illness which inhibits you from fulfilling one of more of the criteria, you can apply for dispensation for all criteria, in reference to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Going forward, the two types of criteria will look like this::

FIXED CRITERIA: (all of which must be met)

  • You must be 18 years of age, and still fulfil the criteria for your original residence permit
  • Minimum 8 years legal residency (minimum 4 years, if you can fulfil the other supplementary requirements)
  • Have passed Prøve i Dansk 2 or an equivalent/higher exam
  • Regular, full-time employment (min. 30 hours per week) or self-employed business for minimum 3.5 years out of the last 4 (education or part-time work does not count) and you must still be in employment at the time you application is handled
  • You must not have received financial support from the state – such as integration or unemployment benefits – within the last 4 years
  • No overdue debts to the state
  • Criminality will result in a quarantine period or exclusion (see above)
  • You must sign a statement concerning citizenship and active participation in society

SUPPLEMENTARY CRITERIA (minimum two of the following must also be met):

  • Have passed the citizenship (medborgerskabsprøve) test (an easier version of the statsborgerskabsprøve) or Active participation in society for 1 year (e.g. as a board member)
  • Regular full-time employment for minimum 4 out of the last 4.5 years
  • Annual, taxable income of minimum 275,400 DKK for the last 2 years
  • Have passed Prøve i Dansk 3 or an equivalent/higher exam

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).

The current criteria already exclude a large number of the refugees and immigrants currently living here from getting permanent residency, in particular the criteria concerning proficiency in Danish and full-time employment over a longer period of time. Education doesn’t count, which encourages foreigners to seek work as unskilled labour instead of getting qualifications – something that goes directly against the stated goal of getting more young people enrolled in education.

The feeling of security created by the knowledge that you can stay here is great importance, especially for refugees. They have already lost their foundation once and are constantly in fear that it will happen again or that they will be sent back to the nightmare they fled from. That the latter could occur has only just now become a reality, as more than 1,000 Somali refugees are at risk of having their asylum status in Denmark revoked.

For young people who were born in Denmark or who came here as small children, permanent residency means everything. They belong in this country, just like the classmates and friends they’ve grown up with – but they have no guarantee that they can stay here.