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Expats attend Copenhagen demonstration against residency curbs

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Expats attend Copenhagen demonstration against residency curbs
Photo: Aras Rasouli/Raisul Jhilan
17:17 CEST+02:00
Up to 400 people attended a demonstration Thursday outside parliament, protesting a new bill aimed at increased restrictions on residency permits in Denmark.

The bill proposes extending waiting times before foreigners in Denmark can apply for permanent residency to eight years.

An extension to the minimum period before becoming eligible for residency from five to six years was passed in 2016, making Denmark one of the strictest countries in Europe on the issue.

Should the new bill be approved, this period would be further extended by another two years.

If passed, the law will also change to require that residency hopefuls must work 3.5 out of four years prior to application for residency – a tightening on the previous requirement of 2.5 out of the last three years.

The bill was tabled in parliament on March 15th this year and the final vote is scheduled for May 4th.

“The anti-immigration rhetoric is also having an effect on people here in Denmark… the government changes the rules of permanent residency and citizenship all the time, and they do it with an effect on people that are already here and have arranged their lives around the rules they were told to,” said Alternative party MP Josephine Fock in a speech at the demonstration.

“They've done everything the government asked them to, and then all of a sudden, the rules are changed again, and they cannot attain the rights they fought for. They have to reschedule their lives and start all over again,” Fock continued.

Naqeeb Khan, organiser of the demonstration and executive member of the Danish Green Card Association, has previously spoken out against the bill, criticising it for disrupting lives and deterring valuable skilled workers from entering the Danish job market.

Khan told The Local that the response at the demonstration was “really positive” and had boosted his hopes that the campaign against could still result in the failure or revision of the bill.

“We've been working on this demonstration since August 2016 and have contacted many expat communities – Indian, Nepalese and Syrian, amongst others. We've also contacted political parties and received support from both Josephine Fock and Sophie Carsten Nielsen [Social Liberal Party MP and former minister, ed.]. It's been a really positive response,” Khan said.

The campaigner added that his lobby group would now meet with other opposition politicians, including Social Democrat Mathias Tesfaye, and hoped to be allowed to present its case at a hearing session before parliament's immigration committee.

“We can still bring amendments to the bill until May 2nd,” he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Denmark's constant residency curbs will turn away skilled workers'

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