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.
  • 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

    Minister of Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye (S) expects that fewer people will get citizenship after a new agreement tightens access to Danish citizenship. Photo: Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix

    Dear Mattias Tesfaye,

    Every human being has the right to a fair and free chance to survive and grow. These rights are not only guaranteed in the Danish constitution but recognised by UN Human Rights Conventions and EU directives. Over the last few years various Danish governments has been breaching the equal opportunity rights of immigrants thus violating the fundamentals of Danish values and its constitution.

    The constant implementation of laws retroactively and asking immigrants to meet the requirements in an earlier time in the past makes it more like a dictatorial directives rather any democratic norm. Unfortunately your signed circular CIS nr 9298 af 06/05/2021 dated 6th May 2021 regarding new Danish citizenship rules are also violating the basics of UN human rights conventions, EU directives and the Danish democratic norms. It proposes to implement the new Danish citizenship law on all those who have applied after 10 April 2020 which is 13 months prior to the date of agreement over on the law.

    Read more: Circular letter on Danish Naturalisation

    Though, I consider the new proposed rules illogical, discriminatory and unfair but its implementation on the already submitted applications make it unjustified and probably illegal. It violates the basic right of a person to have a fair chance to meet the set requirements. I recommend following points to be reconsidered in the new proposed and circulated rules and urge to change its implementation plan.

    • Residency Requirement:

    I believe that the residency requirement for citizenship applicants is unjustified. The current residency requirement for citizenship is already one of the highest in Europe i.e. 9 years but this new residency requirement will make it over 11 years. It is because the new residency requirements ask applicants to hold Permanent residency for at least 2 years before the citizenship application is processed and it takes almost 9 years to obtain permanent residency in Denmark. This requirement will also make hurdles for young people who are born and raised here as they will also need to wait for 2 years after getting Permanent residency when they turn 18.

    • Work Requirement:

    Majority of the immigrants are working full time but many of them also leave jobs for a while to join various professional courses and/or university degrees to strengthen their skills and knowledge especially after getting Permanent Residency. During this period they either take dagepenge (A-kasse, an allowance through a paid Union), supplementary dagepenge (working part time while taking part of the dagepenge A-kasse) or use their savings for a time being for their brighter future. The work requirement will force many to remain stagnant at one position without any training and development as they will need to show full time work for citizenship application. It will also in near future force many to stop their dagepenge (A-kasse) subscriptions as it will be of no use if one cannot avail for at least first 10 years of their stay in Denmark. It will surely have adverse impact on the economy of many employment Union firms. This requirement will also force many to leave their university education or never start one rather keep working unskilled jobs or remain in the same position which will ultimately impact Danish labor market.

    i). COVID-19: Imposing Work requirement at a time when thousands of people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will make it impossible for many to fulfil this requirement. During 2020 many people lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 economic lockdown so requiring immigrants to show full time work for last 3 and half years during this pandemic will be unfair. 

    • Implementation of the rules:

    The shocking part of these new rules is the implementation date. You have announced that these new rules will be applied retroactively from April 10, 2020. It is almost 13 months prior to the agreement between the parties on new citizenship rules. It might make the new rules illegal as the court review might declare it illegal to apply rules on those who have already submitted their application a year ago after fulfilling all the requirements of the time.

    Read more: OPINION: Denmark’s new citizenship requirements are discriminatory and racist

    Recommendations

    Considering Denmark a democratic country, I would like to recommend the following more logical and fair alternatives for the above mentioned concerns.

    1. I urge that residency requirements of holding Permanent residency for 2 years before the process of citizenship application is unnecessary. I would recommend to drop this requirement as it only contribute to further hurdles in the integration of immigrants as they will be unnecessarily delayed from getting Danish citizenship which give them the right to vote and a sense of identity in the Danish society.
    2. I would urge the following recommendations for the work requirement clause of the new circulated rules.
      1. Firstly, I recommend to abolish the work requirement for citizenship applications. It is because an applicant of Danish citizenship has already shown 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 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.
      2. 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.
      3. In continuation to 2.a and 2.b, I would recommend to consider dagepenge (A-kasse) 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 Dane 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.
    3. I believe that the implantation plan described in the 6th May 2021 ministry circular will make the new rules illegal as they are prescribed to be applied retroactively from 10th April, 2020. I believe that;
      1. If the government would like to give a fair chance to each applicant so it will apply the new rules 3 years from now i.e. from 10th May 2024. This will allow everyone to fulfil the requirements mentioned in the circular.
      2. If the government would like to be unfair but still in one way justifiable so it will apply the new rules from either 10th May 2021 or from 20th April 2021 on which date the agreement was signed between the parties.
      3. I believe if the government apply the new rules from 10th April 2020 which the circular has also mentioned, it might make it illegal as it probably violates various human rights laws including the Danish constitution.

    I believe that a more suitable way of implementation of new rules would be to apply from the date of signing the agreement which is 20th April, 2021. It will mean that all those who have already applied, their applications will be processed on the basis the old rules. This will also mean that ministry will not be responsible to pay back probably over a million Danish Krone as a return fee. It is because each applicant who has applied from 10th April 2020 has paid a fee of 3800 DKK and their are thousands who will be effected by these new set of rules and thus ministry will be responsible to pay back their fees.

    I would be pleased if you consider these recommendations and make changes to the new rules accordingly. I am open to any further discussion or meeting that be virtual or face to face regarding the new rules and my recommendations.

    I will be eager to read your response to my letter.

    Best Regards 

    Naqeeb Khan

    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.

    Over 1700 signatories to Tesfaye: Suspend income and work requirements for immigrants amid Corona Crisis

    Immigrants in Denmark write to Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye
    after corona crisis. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen / Ritzau Scanpix

    Dispensation of Income and Work requirements for Denmark Immigrants during Corona Lockdown

    Dear Mattias Tesfaye,

    COVID-19 crisis has on one side caused a huge human and economic loss but on the other side, it has also united us as human beings as we all are in this together. Denmark surely has suffered a lot during these crisis but our unity and helping spirit will keep us alive and prosperous. 

    Although COVID-19 has indiscriminately hit everyone, whether local or immigrant but immigrants are the one who have to face another battle amid COVID-19. They have to face the strict immigration laws and earn required income and work continuously. One might justify these strict rules in normal circumstances but asking for the same level of income and work despite COVID-19 crisis and lockdown is unfair and irrational.

    These immigrants have to show an annual income and continuous work for visa extension, Permanent Residency and Family Reunification applications. During these corona crisis many of them have lost their jobs, while others have been told to stay home. Thus it is impossible for many to show the required income and continuous work.

    It is commendable how the Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen with the help of government support parties like Enhedslisten, Radikale Venstre and SF, showed leadership and took initiatives that has minimised the damage to human lives and economy. We also appreciate government financial support to companies and employees but that still do not solve those immigrants’ problems who are on pay limit scheme, green card scheme or applying for Permanent Residency or family reunification or EU students who could not fulfil the work requirement thus told to return back all SU amount.

    Why Government Corona Package is not helping these immigrants:

    The Corona package to employees has a limit and conditions. These conditions and limit has cut the last hope of immigrants. Corona Help Package could not help these immigrants because;

    Workers are fired: One of the conditions of Corona Help package is that it can be received only by those who are not fired from work. Hundreds of these immigrants have been fired from jobs thus they can not avail the Government corona compensation. Especially, tourism, hotel and restaurant industry has fired most of their employees. It is thus impossible for these employees to earn the required income and show continuous work for visa extension or Permanent Residency and family reunification applications. In some cases, the companies have filed bankruptcy and employees have even not got March salary. 

    Part time job holders: Most of the part time jobs holders are straight away fired from work after corona crisis. Many of immigrants were doing two part time jobs due to various reasons and after the lockdown they lost both of their jobs straight away. Thus they are not getting any compensations from Corona Help package.

    Lower Compensation than required income: Although there are many immigrants who get the compensation from Government Corona Help Package but the amount of compensation is much less than the required annual income for visa extension or other applications. Thus these immigrants still have to suffer as they can not fulfil the income requirement and finding a new job is almost impossible in these crisis. 

    Commission based jobs: There are many immigrants who are working in retail and commission based businesses. Their salary is based on basic pay plus commission on the sales. Corona Compensation to these employees is given on their basic pay which is why their income is much less than the required income. 

    Over 1730 Signatories asking for Dispensation of Income and Work Requirements

    Due to this stressful situation, we collected signatures through an online petition asking for dispensation of income and work requirements for visa extension, Permanent residency and family reunification during these crisis. More than 1730 people have signed the petition until now.

    Link to Online Petition: Click here

    Solution and Recommendations: 

    There can be quite a simple solution which will help thousands of immigrants breathe peacefully during this global pandemic. Government can suspend these income and work requirements for visa extension, Permanent Residency and family reunification applicants during these crisis lets say from March to June just like the suspension of 225 hours of work per year rule for Danish national getting cash help and the handshake requirement for new citizens. This will give a fair chance to these immigrants to fulfil the requirements when the lockdown is over. These immigrants will thus be able to focus on their daily life and safeguard themselves and their families from coronavirus and its aftermath.

    Best Regards

    Over 1720 signatories

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    Why an American expat Katie Larsen decided to leave Denmark after the current Corona crisis

    Katie Larsen while presenting her seaweed project at KEA Denmark

    A Biobased Designer and Architectural Technologist, graduate of KEA Denmark, Katie Larsen came to Denmark in 2015 from the States. She is now married to a Dane and living in Slagelse, a town outside Copenhagen. She has represented Denmark at Dutch Design Week 2019, with a project rooted in Danish history and culture, at a conference for the world’s best design graduates. Katia Larsen has been active and campaigned for rational and humane immigration laws and met parliament members. She has campaigned to make Danish language classes affordable and count education as full time work.

    Read more: ‘‘Unreasonable and sad’: Moumen has lost his job but risks his residence permit if he gets help DR North Jutland

    She lost her job after corona crisis hit Denmark. Since she is under family reunification law in Denmark, she is not allowed to take any social benefits rather provide a security for DKK 100,000 as a financial collateral.

    I was two months away from completing my mandatory integration contract with Slagelse Kommune, a contract that required me to work for at least a year to prove my “self-sufficiency”. But then I lost my job due to corona crisis and now my any hope of applying for permanent residence in the next 4 years has also been ruined, as the “fast-track scheme” requires 4 year uninterrupted work, says Katie.

    Katia Larsen (2nd from left) with Danish Parliament Member Rosa Lund (in the middle) and
    Naqeeb Khan (2nd from right) at Danish Parliament.

    Read more: Corona crisis lengthens the job queue: The number of new vacant rounds is 40,000

    Katie did not signed up for A-Kasse, an unemployment insurance because of the law passed in 2019 which required workers to have lived in Denmark for last 7 out of 12 years. Katie says, I expected I would be ineligible for A-kasse until at least 2025 so I never signed up for it. Though this law was abolished in January 2020, but now under the current corona crisis, one can only claim unemployment as a foreign worker if you terminated your previous membership due to the law change.

    Katia will be unemployed from April end, without real source of income and an uncertain future. As she could not continue to fulfil income and work requirements after the corona crisis means that she has to wait for at least another 4 years to apply for Permanent Residency in Denmark. Thus she along her Dane husband has finally reached to a decision to leave Denmark. She has decided to return to Denmark after few years under the EU Laws.

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

    When I come back, I’ll be able to live with my Danish husband under EU family reunification, rather than relive the humiliating, invasive, and expensive life under Danish family reunification laws. I’ll be eligible for permanent residence after five years in Denmark even if I lose my job or study, Katia says. I am lucky that I managed to get acceptance into Delft University of Technology Holland architecture master program and moving there along my husband, otherwise there are hundreds who have lost their jobs in current crisis but still have no other option but to live up tight under the strict rules in Denmark.

    I hope that the government will wake up soon, and provide some form of relief for these people that have chosen to call this country home at least during this worldwide pandemic. So for me it’s Holland now and I’m working on wrapping up my activities in Denmark for the next four months- and moving all my seaweed research says Katie Larsen.

    Report by Naqeeb Khan