Govt to suspend mandatory handshake for new citizens while Non-EU workers and EU students are told to show income and work despite Corona crisis

After a long fight by Enhedslisten and Radikale Venstre, the govt agrees to temporarily suspend the handshake requirement for granting citizenship. Photo Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In December 2018, a bill was passed in the Danish parliament calling for foreigners to shake hand before they can be granted citizenship. Since then it has been a requirement and everyone who have been granted citizenship were supposed to shake hand.

During the current corona crisis when authorities instruct to avoid handshakes, some 2700 new Danes were in line to be granted citizenship only waiting to shake hand. Social Democrats Minister Mattias Tesfaye stopped the citizenship ceremonies and these probable Danes were told to wait for further instruction probably until the pandemic is over. These applicants otherwise have fulfilled every requirement but only waiting to shake hand to be granted Danish citizenship.

Read more: Tesfaye dropper midlertidigt krav om håndtryk for statsborgerskab

Radikale Venstre and Enhedslisten parties have pressed strong to suspend the law for the time being. The decision comes after a week in which the minister did not want to answer whether handshakes at citizenship ceremonies should be paused, when the government itself is urging people not to shake hand because of the corona crisis. Today the Minister announced to suspend the handshake requirement temporarily which Radikale Venstre and Enhedslisten have been fighting for.

On the other side, Non-EU workers like green card holders, pay limit scheme holders, Permanent Residency (PR) and family reunification (FR) applicants and EU students are still supposed to fulfil the work and income requirements despite the corona lockdown. Non-EU workers in Denmark are required to show an annual income to extend their visa while permanent residency and family reunification applicants are supposed to show annual income and a continuous full time work. EU students on the other side are required to show a 10 hours work per week for a continuous period of 10 week before they can be granted Education Support Grants called SU. After the current corona crisis many of these workers and students lost their jobs or told to stay home. Thus they could not fulfil the income and work requirements but government continue to demand to show income and work otherwise their visa will not be extended or their applications for PR and FR will be rejected or EU students have to return all the SU money back.

Read more: Sad and Unrealistic: EU students could not work amid Corona lockdown and are now told to Pay back SU money

While these workers and students have lost their jobs with non of their faults but government continues to demand income and continuous work. Although there has been demand from immigrants and political parties like Enhedslisten and Radikale venstre to suspend these requirements for the time being but Social democrats and Danish Peoples Party continue to demand to fulfil these requirements.

Read more: Denmark migrant workers face another battle amid COVID-19 with mandatory work despite economic lockdown and fear of corona infection

It is indeed a good step to suspend the handshake requirement for new citizens and it is welcomed by immigrants but government must also suspend the illogical and unrealistic work and income requirements for visa extension, PR, family reunification applications and EU students. How can I continue to show 10 hours work per week when everything is closed and government is the one who closed it says Blanka an EU student. I am told to return back all SU money only because I could not show 10 hours work per week. I think it is unfair says Boglarka another EU student.

While the government suspension of handshake is welcomed but they are criticised over their demand from Non-EU workers and EU students to continue to show income and work. It will only be fair if these requirements of work and income are also suspended for time being like the handshake requirement.

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