Some 1,950 foreigners who were due to receive citizenship in October with the passage of Denmark's next citizenship bill may not get it after all, Politiken reported on Monday.
Integration Minister Inger Støjberg told Politiken that she is “considering” changes to Denmark's citizenship requirements that could result in the some of the nearly 2,000 foreigners' applications being denied despite living up to all of the current rules.
The current citizenship applicants have passed the required Danish language courses, citizenship tests and background checks but could be subjected to new, tougher requirements that might be applied retroactively.
The applicants received a letter shortly after the new Venstre government took power in June that said that their applications for citizenship would be approved in October “as long as the current guidelines don't change”.
Because the letters included that caveat, the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DF) is pushing strongly for tougher citizenship requirements to be established before the citizenship bill reaches parliament in October. Specifically, DF wants to increase the language requirement so that prospective citizens need to complete Danish 3 classes rather than the easier Danish 2, as the current rules state. The language requirements were relaxed by the previous Social Democrat-led government and DF wants them restored to the higher level.
A DF spokesman said that if the tougher language requirements result in people losing the citizenship they thought they had earned, "that's just the way it is".
"For us, Danish citizenship is something incredibly special in which one is incorporated into the Danish people and all of that previous easing and relaxing [of the rules] is something we don't support," DF's Christian Langballe told Politik
Under the Danish constitution, foreigners can only obtain citizenship by law. Twice each year – in April and October – parliament is presented a bill with the names of all individuals who have qualified for citizenship, which it typically passes as a formality.
But with a new centre-right majority in parliament, in which DF is now the second-largest party, what is normally a straightforward issue may get more complicated.
The new centre-right majority on parliament's Naturalization Committee has already said it will use the caveat in the citizenship letters to reevaluate the applications of those who have applied for a disposition to the regular requirements. Up to 250 applications may be affected by that decision.
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Støjberg wouldn't commit to whether the regular applications would be reconsidered if and when the citizenship requirements are changed.
“I can't say one way or the other. I can only say that I am considering the case,” the integration minister told Politiken.
Støjberg has promised that the government will soon be announcing a series of changes within the immigration arena.