Green card changes ‘unjust and destructive’

As green card holders prepare to protest the government's overhaul of the scheme on Monday at Christiansborg, the wife of one green card holder shares how the "fundamentally unjust, financially harmful and discriminatory" changes will affect her family.

Green card changes 'unjust and destructive'
The author says that after she and her husband uprooted their entire lives and moved to Denmark, the government has pulled the rug out from under them. Photo: Submitted
I am an American whose family is here on the Green Card Scheme. I want to relate to every person serving on parliament’s Immigration and Integration Affairs Committee [Integrationsudvalget, ed.] the significant personal and financial cost that the retroactive application of the extension rules will impose upon current green card holders. 
The new extension rules (particularly the extension rule requiring a green card holder to earn at least 315,000 kroner annually in order to obtain a second extension), absolutely should not be applied to people who came here based on the prior representations made by the Danish government. To do so is fundamentally unjust, financially harmful, discriminatory and will discourage anyone, no matter how talented or needed, from coming to Denmark. 
Government should make life predictable, not arbitrary. Government should not foster the financial destruction of a family. Just like people should abide by their promises, so should government. We don't trust people who violate business deals; we should not trust governments who violate business deals.
In my family, my husband is the actual green card holder, while I (Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin with sixteen years as a licenced attorney) am technically the accompanying spouse, although I qualify for a green card in my own right (we did it this way because it was cheaper for me to apply as an accompanying spouse). We arrived in Denmark with our two daughters, aged six and ten, in April of this year.
I had an excellent position as an attorney back home and was rather high up in state government. I made $84,000 [about 500,000 kroner, ed.] per year, plus excellent fringe benefits (pension, vacation, health and dental insurance, life insurance), which brought my effective salary up to over $110,000 per year [655,000 kroner, ed]. My husband delivered lectures and wrote institutional histories on commission. We had our home paid off (and we owned another home outright as well) and were financially settled. However, for philosophical reasons we sought to come to Denmark.
We walked away from the financial security we had in America to come to Denmark, based on representations made by Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment [Styrelsen for Arbejdsmarked og Rekruttering, ed.] that extension of my husband's green card would be based on him working an average of ten hours per week, that neither none of us would commit any crimes, and that we would not request or accept any money under the Active Social Welfare Act [aktivloven, ed.]. There was no requirement that people would need to earn at least 315,000 kroner annually in order to obtain a second extension.
Coming to Denmark cost our family close to $40,000 [240,000 kroner, ed.], not counting the tens of thousands of dollars in income we have lost as a result of me resigning from my position in state government to come here. We cashed in my deferred income of over $20,000. We cashed in the savings plans we had put together for our daughters' future university education. We used both my savings and my husbands's savings.
Now that we are here and have walked away from our financial security, and now that we have infused tens of thousands of dollars into the Danish economy, the Danish government is changing the rules and is pulling the rug out from underneath us. 
Suddenly we are told that in order to get our second extension, my husband will need to make at least 315,000 kroner annually. This was not in any way, shape, or form part of the deal at the time we spent money applying, nor was it at the time we spent money coming here. This income requirement simply should be inapplicable to people who made their decision to spend money applying and then coming here prior to the reforms being enacted. 
Both of us were fully aware that it would take us 4-5 years to establish ourselves in Denmark. We both were fully aware that he would not be getting a teaching position until he learned Danish. We know that I will need to learn Danish, plus take additional law classes on EU contract law and international taxation, before I can even be hired as in-house counsel. It was our plan to take whatever jobs were available while we learned Danish, which we estimate will take us two to four years.
Based on the representations made on the New to Denmark website (which is maintained collectively by the Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment), we knew that we qualified for the Green Card Scheme. We knew that (at least under the rules in effect now and the rules in effect when we applied in 2013) we would qualify for both of the extensions. However, there is no way that people like us will earn enough money to qualify for the second extension under the new rules. We are not engineers. We are not IT professionals. We are not doctors or dentists. People like us need several years to learn the language before anyone will hire us for a professional position in our fields. 
Had we known that the Danish Parliament intended to enact new extension rules and apply the new extension rules to people like us, we never, ever, would have even applied for the green card at all.
Had we known that the Danish parliament intended to enact new extension rules and apply them to people in our situation, I never would have resigned from my attorney position in Wisconsin. I never would have cashed in my deferred income. We never would have cashed in our daughters' educational funds. Although we don't like the US rates of gun violence, we would have taken our chances with that in the US and kept my good attorney position there, which I can never get back.
Had we been able to foresee that the Danish parliament would apply the new extension rules to people who had come here based on different representations, we never would have interrupted our daughters' education in the United States. They were in a good school and were progressing well. But based on the representations that the Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment made, we decided that it would be in their long-term interests for us to come to Denmark and for them to learn Danish.
Had we been able to foresee the new income requirement of at least 315,000 kroner annually, we never would have infused tens of thousands of our American dollars into the Danish economy; we would have just stayed home. 
It doesn't escape me that the proposed expulsion of green card holders not earning least 315,000 kroner annually does not include any financial reparations for those green card holders who infused foreign money into the Danish economy (application fees, travel fares, housing costs far in excess of the costs back home and so forth) based on the Danish government's prior representations. If I had wanted to spend a small fortune in Denmark and then return to my home country, I would have just come as a tourist.
Like many Americans, I am, myself, a genetic melting pot. My ancestors were mostly Christian, but a few were Jewish. What the Danish government is planning to do to green card holders who don't earn enough money brings to mind the repeated expulsions that my Jewish ancestors faced from almost everywhere they lived in Europe. For Denmark to keep the tens of thousands of dollars we have infused into its economy, but then expel us for not meeting new terms that were not part of the original bargain is the same sort of maltreatment-by-tyrant that my Jewish ancestors faced throughout the centuries.
When I look at the demographics of the current green card holders who will likely be expelled under the new rules, the plan seems tantamount to ethnic cleansing, with the victims this time around by-and-large being moderate Muslims (after all, it isn't Europeans who were induced by the Danish government to come to Denmark on the Green Card Scheme; rather, the green card holders are highly educated and hard working people most of whom have darker skin than the average Dane).
In sum, it is utterly unjust, financially destructive, and a violation of basic human rights, to apply the 315,000 kroner requirement for a second extension to existing green card holders who made their decision to apply, and then to come to Denmark, based on the old extension criteria. This provision in the law should be eliminated and the government should continue to apply the old extension criteria to green card holders who came here under the rules currently in effect. There should not be new rules imposed on people who came here based on a different promise made by the Danish government.
Andrea Olmanson is an American living in Denmark under the green card scheme with her husband and their two daughters. 

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Foreign employees entitled to Danish bank account: Finance Denmark

Foreign employees with their papers in order are entitled to a Danish bank account, interest organisation Finance Denmark has confirmed in a letter to its members.

Foreign employees entitled to Danish bank account: Finance Denmark
File photo: Brian Bergmann/Scanpix Denmark

The confirmation provides clarification to Danish companies who pay salaries to foreign employees on short working visits in Denmark, reports

Since last year, tightened rules have stipulated that foreign employees from non-EU countries must have salaries paid into a Danish bank account – even for short stays in Denmark.

Meanwhile, stricter legislation to prevent money laundering has made banks more cautious about setting up accounts for foreign employees.

Now, however, things are looking brighter.

The requirement that salaries be paid into a Danish bank account remains unchanged, but Finance Denmark – a trade organisation for Danish banks – has given companies with foreign employees a helping hand. The organisation has sent out a letter to financial institutions notifying them that they are obliged to create accounts for foreign nationals that are entitled to work in Denmark.

“We sent out the letter upon the request of the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), who brought to our attention the fact that a number of Danish companies find that their international employees from non-EU countries have difficulty setting up Danish bank accounts for payment of their salary before they have received their CPR number [personal identification number, ed.] or residency permit,” said Kenneth Joensen, Legal Executive Director at Finance Denmark. 

The letter from Finance Denmark also informs banks that SIRI can provide help if they are unsure about a specific residency permit.

“In the letter to the banks, we have included information from SIRI that can help them understand the rules. We hope that the included material can make it easier and less worrisome for banks to open bank accounts in compliance with the money laundering rules for this group of foreign employees. Meanwhile, it is important that employees bring the information banks need so that they do not end up going to the bank in vain. In our experience, this can also be part of the problem in the specific instances,” Joensen said.

Since the summer of 2017, global consulting firm Accenture has struggled with the administrative difficulties resulting from the Danish parliament's decision to tighten the rules for use of foreign employees.

Philip Wiig, Country Managing Director for Denmark at management consultancy firm Accenture, welcomed the news.

“The rules requiring that foreign employees on short visits have their salary paid to a Danish account will still be an administrative burden. But it is a big relief that it has been made clear to banks that they are entitled to an account when they are permitted to work here,” Wiig said.

However, he still hopes that parliament will re-examine the rules and find a solution that is less difficult for both companies and the highly-specialised foreign nationals that Accenture brings to Denmark for short periods.

“We are increasingly availing ourselves of some of the world's most talented people, who come to Denmark for a short period to help us provide consulting services to Danish and international companies. It is therefore very important for us that getting them here is as straightforward as possible in terms of administration,” he said.

Linda Duncan Wendelboe, head of global talent with the Confederation of Danish Industry , agreed with that assessment.

“We really appreciate Finance Denmark's initiative and hope that the letter will help ease the burdens associated with setting up bank accounts for foreign employees. Ideally, however, we would like the requirement of a Danish bank account to be lifted completely,” Wendelboe said.

“Ultimately, we risk that these cumbersome rules will force companies to move departments and staff functions abroad, since the ability to bring employees in and out of a given country for projects and meetings is a priority, presently and in the future,” the global talent executive added.

READ ALSO: Minister's call for more foreign labour 'extremely positive': DI

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