Warning to Syrians: think carefully before you leave Denmark!

Both the Netherlands and Germany still return almost everyone while the chance of having your case reconsidered in Denmark is increasing

Refugees Welcome's advice for Syrian refugees in Denmark:

Remember, it is still only people from Damascus and Rif Damascus with asylum given under §7.3 or §7.2 who are at risk of having their residence revoked. If you have residence according to §7.1 or come from another part of the country, you are not at risk now and can stay calm.

  • If you received a letter saying they consider revoking your permit, or they have already done it: contact Refugees Welcome or DRC/Danish Refugee Council for advice.
  • Stay in Denmark, get in touch with a good lawyer, and help document your own case. Refugees Welcome can help you choose a lawyer, contact us here.
  • Be patient, and seek support and backing from Danes and the public. Many will want to help you, and the louder we are, the better the chances.
  • Only if you already have a final rejection from the Refugee Appeals Board and your lawyer sees no chance of reopening the case, and you have close family members in another country, you might consider going there rather than living in a deportation center in Denmark for years.


Thanks to Bashar Shukri Husobrim for translation.

Ever since some of the Syrian refugees started having their residence permits revoked, many hundreds have left Denmark. But in most cases, it has only made their lives more difficult. Read about Nadia in Politiken here (free gift link). Politiken has a whole series about the topic currently, from which some of the information below was taken.

The Dublin Regulation

According to the Dublin Regulation, a country does not have to reopen an asylum case if another country has already determined it. Denmark has signed the agreement, together with all other EU countries and a number of other countries. It means that when a Syrian refugee has received a final decision in Denmark, other countries are not obliged to open the case, but they can choose to do it. Since 2019, the Danish authorities have received 593 requests from other European countries asking Denmark to take back Syrians who have sought asylum there. This means that the other countries do not reopen the asylum cases, but simply refer to the Danish decision.

In most instances, the Syrians in question have not even received a final rejection in Denmark, and then it's most unlikely that another country will open the case.

It can take many months before the other country reaches a decision to send a person back to Denmark, and it can take several months before the Danish authorities accept. During that period, the refugee is typically lodged in an asylum center without the right to work or study – a difficult period where you waste your time. And it’s not possible to ask for a reopening of the case in Denmark while you are not in the country.

Some Syrians have even left Denmark while they still had legal residence – that residence permit expires when you stay outside the country for too long. If you return before it has expired, or get your residence permit back again, the municipality has no responsibility to find a home for you.

The German and Dutch rulings

Particularly Germany and the Netherlands have been destinations for the Syrians leaving Denmark. Among other things, this is due to local court rulings in the two countries and the rumors that have circulated in connection to them. Already last year, the court in Berlin made a startling verdict: that Denmark could not necessarily be considered a safe country for Syrian refugees. A few have been granted residence permits in Germany, but far more have been rejected and sent back to Denmark.

Recently, the Netherlands' highest administrative court has ruled in two cases about Syrian refugees who had lost their residence permits in Denmark. In the decision, the court clarified that it "cannot automatically be assumed that Syrians can safely return to Denmark". In the future, the courts decisions will require an investigation of the individual situation. But at the same time, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes that they “do not see any systematic problems with Danish asylum decisions”.

As a rule, both the Netherlands and Germany are therefore still returning Syrians to Denmark.

The cases are now awaiting a so-called preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice. Until the court has made a decision, certain Syrians will not be sent back to Denmark. If the EU Court of Justice considers that there may be a more general problem, it could lead to an exception being made for Syrians from Denmark. For several years, most European countries have e.g. not sent anybody back to Greece and Hungary because the asylum systems of the two countries are considered not to respect human rights.

Our most important advice: Wait for a final decision

For all cases, however, it applies that you must have a final decision from Denmark, meaning a final rejection from the Refugee Appeals Board. As long as the case is being processed and there is still a chance to get asylum in Denmark, other countries will not consider your case. You will not be sent to a deportation centre before your case is finally closed – and even then, there is a chance to have the case reopened. The best advice is therefore to stay in Denmark, get in touch with a good lawyer and arm yourself with patience.

Further, there is actually an increasing chance that you will still be granted asylum by the Refugee Appeals Board, even though the Danish Immigration Service has initially withdrawn your residence permit. Last year, half of the cases were overturned, and this year it has been as many as 70% so far.

In addition, the latest memorandum from the Danish Immigration Service has gotten some attention, because it recognized that even those who return to Damascus voluntarily and who have had their security cleared, are in fact at risk of being subjected to abuse by the Syrian authorities. The memorandum states that "(...) there are reports of returnees, predominantly returning from Syria's neighbour countries, who upon return were subjected to different forms of violations by the Syrian authorities, including those who have cleared or settled their status prior to their return."

A handful of dedicated lawyers have worked hard to overturn every single decision on Syrians in the Refugee Appeals Board. Often, they have put in many free working hours to get the cases reconsidered. Refugees Welcome encourages all refugees to follow the advice from the lawyers, and we are happy to recommend good lawyers who have extensive experience with Syrian cases. Get in touch with Refugees Welcome or DRC/Danish Refugee Council.

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