The adjusted Danish Citizenship rules! Bigotry continues and so do our struggle!

Comparison of Original Citizenship agreement 20th April, 2021 and updated one of 17th June 2021.

On 20th April, 2021, Social Democrats along with Venstre, Liberal Alliance and Conservative signed an agreement regarding obtaining Danish citizenship via naturalisation. The agreement entailed number of unfair, discriminatory and racist rules. Danish Green Card Association and Green Human Recourses have from day one criticised these rules and called upon all the parties and MPs to reconsider these rules as they are unreasonable and in fact a hurdle to a good integration of new Danes into Danish society.

Read more: Nye regler for statsborgerskab bliver ikke den sidste stramning

After a continuous and rigorous campaign and the June 2, 2021 demonstration, we managed to put pressure on parties to the agreement to alter the rules for good. As a result the ministry issued another circular agreed on June 11, 2021 with some amendments. The ministry also sent the details of the updated agreement and answers to our questions in a letter dated 22 June, 2021. Although there has been few achievement of our campaign but mostly the rules remain unchanged or even worse in some cases. We are also not satisfied with the answers we receive from the Ministry. We believe that these rules are unfair and unjustifiable. They will make it impossible for many to obtain Danish citizenship which we consider a basic human right of those who have been living in Denmark either since birth or for over 10 years. Some of the rules are no less than humiliating the immigrants and youth with the unreasonable demands. Therefore, our resistance will continue against these rules.

Read more: Cirkulæreskrivelse om naturalisation 17/06/2021

Udlændinge- og Integrationsministreriet svar på vores spørgsmål.

Following is the comparison of the main points of original and updated agreement on Danish citizenship dated 17 June 2021.

Guidelines20 April 2021 Original Agreement17 June 2021 Changes in the agreement
Employment Requirement– 3,5 years full time work in last 4 years. – Applied retroactively on all application submitted after 10th April, 2020.– 3,5 years full time work in last 4 years. – Applied from the date the agreement was signed 20th April, 2021.
Young Students– Automatically Exempt from work requirement if entered Denmark before they turn 15 and up to the age of 25.– They have to apply for dispensation from work requirement to the parliament Indigenous Rights Committee.
– Plus a prerequisite that one should have entered Denmark before the age of 8 and should apply for citizenship before one reaches the age of 22.
– Applied retroactively on all application submitted after 10th April, 2020.
Residence Requirement– 2 years of Permanent Residence (1 year for Refugees and stateless persons) – Applied retroactively from 10th April 2021– Remain same as before. – Plus have the opportunity to apply for dispensation to committee without any guaranteed positive outcome.
MENAP plus Turkey (Racial & Religious profiling)– Names of each applicant will be listed in separate headings considering their country of origin. Muslim majority countries (MENAP Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan plus Turkey) applicants names will be listed separately under MENAP plus Turkey heading. Paving way to discrimination and racism.– Remain same as before.  
Citizenship test– 5 more questions on Danish values making it 45 in total – 4 correct out of 5 new questions – 32 correct out of rest of 40 questions– Remain same as before.
Dispensation for applications submitted after 20 April 2020. Employment requirement– No dispensation.– Part time workers who have worked less than 30 hours a week or less than 120 hours a month – Persons who have taken more than 6 months unemployment allowance (Dagepenge) in last 4 years. – The opportunity of applying for dispensation does not mean a guaranteed dispensation.
Ban on obtaining Citizenship– Conditional or unconditional prison sentence– Remain same as before.
Comparison of Original Citizenship agreement and updated one

Danish Green Card Association and Green Human Resources are very much concerned over the above changes which will make life miserable for many in Denmark. The integration of these new Danes will be even harder and might results in stress and trauma to probable new Danes especially those who are born here in Denmark and who will be forced to leave education and start work in a bit to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

Read more: An open letter to Danish Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye; It will be a dictatorial directive to implement new citizenship laws on those who have already applied a year ago

Fair rules; Our Recommendations

The two organisation has already written to parties and MPs about the new citizenship rules and informed them about our recommendations which are as follow.

Employment requirement

An applicant of Danish citizenship already show full time work for up to 4 years while getting permanent residency. Thus requiring 3 and half years full time work in last 4 years for citizenship application is unnecessary and contribute to an unskilled labor force. It will only make the probable new Danes stagnant at the same career position as they will have to continue working in the same job without training and development which in many cases is only possible to either start studying full time or go for various courses which takes years. Employment requirement will also force women to either choose family or work as they have to first show 3,5 years work for permanent residency and then for citizenship application.

One of the reasons to abolish the work requirement is COVID-19. Thousands of people lost their jobs during this pandemic which has made it impossible to show 3 and half years full time work in last 4 years. Thus it will take years before many could meet this requirement.

Residence Requirement

Danish Green Card Association and Green Human Resources believe that residency requirement is utterly unreasonable. An applicant who has fulfilled all requirements including the residence requirement for Citizenship which is 9 years should not be told to spend 2 more years in Denmark before applying for citizenship. It negate the very basic rules of the citizenship itself as it will require an applicant to spend almost 11 years before applying for Danish citizenship instead of 9 years.

The residence requirement will specially hit hard the youth as despite living in Denmark since birth they will have to spend 2 more years after getting permanent residency at the age of 18. This is completely risking the confidence of youth and humiliating them with unreasonable demands in a country they already call home.

Young Students

Danish Green Card Association and Green Human Resources are categorically shattered over the work requirement for young people for obtaining Danish citizenship in the newly updated version of the agreement. It will definitely disturb and destroy future of many young people. They will have to focus starting full time work instead of their studies at the young age or wait until they turn 30 to get Danish citizenship.

We believe that the parties should restore the first guidelines regarding the work employment for young people which automatically exempted all those from work requirement who have entered Denmark before the age of 15 and up to 25 years of age. This will also reduce an extra burden of work for the Indigenous Right Committee of parliament, immigration ministry staff and give a sense of confidence to youth that they are part of the society and we value them instead of demanding unreasonable and unjustified requirements.

MENAP plus Turkey

The new agreement includes among other things the separation of Danish citizenship applicants into headings based on their national background. Muslim majority countries applicants will be grouped under the name of MENAP plus Turkey (Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan plus Turkey) and similarly non-western countries which might include South Asian, South American and other countries and the western countries applicants will be under these headings respectively. This will actually pave way for more racial and religious discrimination in near future. We believe that such lists violates the very basics of Danish values of freedom of religion and contradicts the UN human rights conventions.

Education counted as full time work

The new guidelines states that education will not be counted as full time work with some exemption for young people. We have long campaigned to count education as full time work for permanent residency applications while the current agreement is not even recognising education as full time work for citizenship applications. We believe this is forcefully creating a pool of uneducated and unskilled labour in Denmark. We believe that education should be an alternative to work for citizenship applications with no limits of age because the higher immigrants get education the more will it contribute to Danish society and economy.

Dagpenge (A-kasse) and Supplementary Dagpenge should be counted as full work

We recommend to consider dagepenge (A-kasse) and supplementary dagpenge as an applicable source of regular full time work. It is because dagepenge itself require a person to fulfil certain requirement which include full time work in last 1 year. This will help the probable new Danes to not only continue their development by taking various courses and university degrees but it will also help various employment Union firms to have higher subscriptions. It will also add a more skilled labor force into Danish labor market.

Danish Green Card Association and Green Human Resources will continue a fair struggle against these new unreasonable and unjust citizenship rules. We have a planned meeting with the Indigenous Right Committee of parliament where we will propose the above amendments and recommendations to make the rules more fair and justifiable.

  • Naqeeb Khan is a research graduate of the University of Glasgow, Scotland and resides in Denmark. He is president of Green Human Resources and an executive member with the Danish Green Card Association (DGCA). He can be contacted via email.
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