Integration Minister Inger Støjberg has announced that the Venstre government will push for changing Danish citizenship requirements in order to make them more difficult.
In a move foreshadowed last week, the government will propose making the Danish language requirements more stringent. Its proposal also calls for increasing the demands for financial self-reliance, making it more difficult to obtain citizenship for applicants with a criminal record and introducing a harder citizenship exam (indfødsretsprøve).
“To me, Danish citizenship is something very special. It’s something you need to earn and be willing to strive after. Therefore we will make it significantly harder to get Danish citizenship,” Støjberg told Jyllands-Posten.
The government’s proposal seeks to dismantle moves put in place by the previous Social Democrat-led regime, which dropped the language requirements from Danish 3 to Danish 2 and rolled out a newer and more modern (some would say easier) citizenship test.
In concrete terms, Støjberg wants to implement the following changes, according to reports from Jyllands-Posten and public broadcaster DR:
Language requirements: Applicants should have to pass an oral and written exam in Danish 3 instead of Danish 2.
Self-reliance: Applicants will have to prove that they have supported themselves for 4.5 out of the last five years, instead of the current 2.5 years.
Citizenship test: The current test requires applicants to answer at least 22 of 30 questions correctly. The government wants to make applicants correctly answer 32 of 40 questions.
Criminal record: Under current rules, a criminal record results in a three to 20 year quarantine from obtaining citizenship, depending on the nature of the crime. The government wants to increase that timeframe by 50 percent.
Despite the Venstre proposal rolling back their policies, the Social Democrats said they would work with the current government to make obtaining citizenship more difficult.
“We are prepared to look at further restrictions in this area. […] We will ourselves come with some concrete suggestions for where things should be tightened,” Social Democrat spokeswoman Astrid Krag told Jyllands-Posten.
The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party also expressed support for Støjberg’s plans. With parliament’s two largest parties seemingly on board, the proposal, or some form of it, looks likely to become a reality.
Meanwhile, Støjberg also announced on Wednesday that thousands of people who were due to receive citizenship in October with the passage of Denmark’s next citizenship bill should have their applications reconsidered.
The new centre-right majority on parliament’s Naturalization Committee previously said it would reevaluate the applications of those who have applied for a disposition to the regular requirements. Some 250 applicants were originally expected to be impacted by that decision but on Wednesday, Støjberg said that with nearly half of the roughly 2,750 people on the coming citizenship bill having received a disposition, all applicants should be looked at it again.
That suggestion however met significant political resistance, including from the libertarian Liberal Alliance (LA). Without LA’s support, the government is unlikely to push the reopening of the cases through.