Current green card holders had accused Denmark of breaking its promises by threatening to retroactively apply new rules to foreign professionals who have done everything required of them under the current regulations.
Those currently living under the scheme argued that it would be a “humanitarian crisis” to apply new rules to them, saying it would unfairly unravel the family and professional lives they have established in Denmark.
On Thursday, politicians approved a third and final version of the bill that will completely eliminate the green card scheme moving forward but will allow current green card holders to extend their stays in Denmark under the previous rules and will allow them to seek family reunification under existing legislation.
A relieved Naqeeb Khan, an executive member of the Danish Green Card Association (DGCA), told The Local that green card holders were “celebrating” after the bill’s passage in Christiansborg.
(L-R) Green card holders Naqeeb Khan, Razaul Karim and Nadeem Malik celebrate their victory outside of Christiansborg. Photo: Submitted
For many, the bill's final form was the source of great relief.
“I was extremely worried about my kids and their future. I even talked with different people about the possibility of seeking asylum in Denmark because if this bill would have been passed in its original form then I would have been going back to Pakistan where nothing is left for me and my family,” green card holder Mehvish Kiran told The Local.
Kiran told The Local last week that her family would be “destroyed” if she were affected by the new rules, said she was enormously relieved that MPs changed the final bill to exempt current green card holders.
“Now my kids can go to school here in Denmark,” Kiran, a chemist from Pakistan, said.
Her eldest daughter, Fatima, was ecstatic to hear that she would not have to leave her home in Ringsted.
"I love my school and now I can continue going to school with my best friend Hjalte," she said.
Arpita Ravi, who came to Denmark from India on a green card in 2014, said she will finally be able to relax after months of uncertainty. She had her husband Ravi Kumar, also a green card holder, had been worried that they would be forced to sell their flat at a loss if they had to leave Denmark earlier than planned.
“I was worried about what I would have to tell my parents about why I am coming back and why I am selling the property I bought just few months ago in Copenhagen. I would have been facing a lose of almost 200,000 kroner if this bill would have been passed in its original form,” she said.
(L-R) Green card holders Razual Karim, Nadeem Malik and Naqeeb Khan with Enhedslisten MP Finn Sørensen. Photo: Submitted
Helped by left-wing MP
The green card holders that The Local spoke with went out of their way to thank Finn Sørensen, an MP with the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) who they say was an integral figure in securing an exemption to the new rules for current green card holders.
“Finn Sørensen has shown the utmost responsibility by listening to our demands during the demonstration and coming up with amendments with no time limit for existing green card holders,” Khan said.
The group also thanked MPs Sofie Carsten Nielsen (Radikale) and Josephine Fock (The Alternative) as well as former MP Nadeem Farooq for their support.
Following the bill’s passage on Thursday, there will be no more green cards issued as of June 10th, putting an end to a scheme that has been heavily criticized for years.
A 2014 report found that nearly 80 percent of all highly-educated foreigners who enter the country on the scheme end up in unskilled positions, work under the table or end up jobless.
However, the DGCA has argued that the green card programme has also produced many success stories and said those in Denmark under the scheme have fought hard to live up to "one set of tougher rules after another", including a complete overhaul that took effect last year and required green card holders to earn more than 315,000 kroner in order to qualify for a residence permit extension.