Humanitarian Residence Permit

If an asylum seeker’s case is rejected, then the asylum seeker can be granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds according to section 9b. This act was implemented in 1985. At the time, it included a number of very broad criteria, such as families with small children from countries of war, people suffering from the effects of torture, risk of suicide, aggravation of disability, or long periods of residence.

Since then, the criteria have been reduced and specified, mostly through change of practice and is managed extremely restrictive. Only very few people are granted this status every year and it is only granted to people with life-threatening illnesses who cannot get treatment in their country of origin. In all of 2016, with more than 20,000 asylum seekers in Denmark, only 5 persons were granted humanitarian residence. Only 3 persons got it in 2017, and in 2018 the number rose to 8 (including family members).

In some cases single women from Afghanistan without male family members have been granted this status. Although, some cases have been rejected because the Danish authorities assess that the women are protected by the male family members who they say they are fleeing from. 

The Ministry of Integration determines these cases and usually a permit is only granted for 1 or 2-years at a time. The applicants themselves are required to provide documentation of their diagnosis and necessary treatment. 

In 2014, a new practice was implemented for families with children who have had a humanitarian residence permit for a period but are rejected an extension. These cases are passed on to the Danish Immigration Service in order to assess the needs and interests of the children. Here the authorities examine whether the child’s ties to Denmark may be strong enough to grant the family a residence permit. However, so far it has only been a few cases where this has been the instance. 

Read more about humanitarian residence permit in the report “The Character of Exception”.

A court ruling from The European Court of Human Rights in December 2016 (Pashvili vs Belgium) was a U-turn compared to the earlier decisions from the court, laying out a much more careful attitude than before. Unfortunately the residing minister Støjberg interpreted the ruling as not being in conflict with Danish practice. Many legal experts did not agree withe her – read more about the case here.