Here’s what Denmark’s new budget means for foreigners

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Here’s what Denmark’s new budget means for foreigners
Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen (right, no tie) and members of the government's support parties presented the budget on Friday. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix

The Danish government on Friday reached an agreement with the Danish People’s Party, Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives on the nation’s operating budget for 2017.


As part of the agreement, the government accommodated a long list of further immigration restrictions championed by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party. 
If you are a foreigner living in Denmark, here is what you need to know about the new immigration rules (note that these do not apply to EU citizens):
Tougher restrictions on permanent residence
“Denmark should be open for those who can and will, but the doors should be shut to those who won’t,” the budget agreement reads. 
With that, the government has pushed through yet another round of restrictions on immigrants who want to obtain permanent residency. 
Foreigners can now first apply for permanent residency after eight years in Denmark. That is an increase from the current six year period that was implemented as part of a comprehensive immigration bill passed at the outset of the year. 
As recently as January, foreigners only needed to live in Denmark for five years before applying for permanent residency.
The budget agreement touts that this will “have a knock-on effect on access to family reunification”. Current rules state that a foreigner must have permanent residency for three years before bringing family members in Denmark. This now means that if a foreigner moved to Denmark tomorrow and lived up to the rules as they currently stand, they could not bring a family member into the country for 11 years. 
In addition to the longer period before one can even apply for permanent residency, the requirements to achieve it have also been tightened. One must now have been in full-time employment or self-employment for 3.5 of the past four years, as opposed to the current rules requiring employment in 2.5 of the past three years. 
To achieve permanent residency, foreigners must also refrain from accepting any public benefits for four years, instead of the current three. 
The new rules also increase the penalties for being convicted of a crime. A criminal sentence of six months or more will now exclude an individual from permanent residency.
Asylum ‘emergency brake’
The numerous restrictions on achieving permanent residence are accompanied by a number of initiatives meant to further decrease the number of refugees coming to Denmark – a figure that is already at a five-year low
Similar to legislation on the books in Norway, the Danish government has now authorised a so-called ‘emergency brake’ that will allow officials to deny asylum seekers at the nation’s borders “if a crisis situation arises”. 
The agreement also calls for “strengthening” the deportation of rejected asylum seekers and increasing the financial incentive to get immigrants to voluntarily return to their home countries. 
“Calm and order”
The agreement also includes a long list of initiatives meant to establish “calm and order” in the nation’s asylum centres. 
These include establishing smaller children’s asylum centres “so fewer unaccompanied minor asylum seekers are gathered in one place”, the ability to punish an underage asylum seeker financially for “lacking observance of house rules” and “intensified” nationwide monitoring of the asylum centres.
The full budget agreement can be read here


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