Expats attend Copenhagen demonstration against residency curbs

Up to 400 people attended a demonstration Thursday outside parliament, protesting a new bill aimed at increased restrictions on residency permits in Denmark.

Expats attend Copenhagen demonstration against residency curbs
Photo: Aras Rasouli/Raisul Jhilan

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’

For members


Can you travel in and out of Denmark if you lose your residence card?

Non-EU nationals who legally reside in Denmark are issued with a plastic card which functions as a residence permit and must normally be presented when entering the country. What do you do if you misplace it?

Can you travel in and out of Denmark if you lose your residence card?

I’ve lost my residence permit. What do I do?

Everyone who is granted a Danish residence permit receives a residence card – they are issued automatically and delivered by post 2-3 weeks after the permit is granted.

The residence card is proof of your right to reside in Denmark and must be kept on you at all times – although in practice, most people only ever have to produce it when returning to Denmark after a trip abroad.

You can – indeed, should – apply for a new card if you have lost your residence card, but also for other reasons such as a change of name or if you have reached the age of 18 and need the card for the first time.

If you have lost your residence card, you must complete a police declaration form declaring a lost passport or identity document. This can be downloaded via the website of the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), the agency which processes the application.

It is available in three languages: Danish, English and German. Here is a direct link to the English one.

The declaration must be signed and stamped by the police – so you’ll need to visit your local station. It can then be submitted along with your application for a new residence card. 

You can find a link to the application system along with a checklist for the paperwork on SIRI’s website. Required documentation will include a copy of your passport. Note a fee is payable either using a Danish bank card (Dankort) or the MobilePay app, except in certain cases (like if you are sent a card with erroneous data).

You may also need to book an appointment with your local Borgerservice (Citizens’ Service) to have biometric data recorded for the ID.

If you received your original card within the last 10 years, however, this step won’t be necessary because biometric features (fingerprints and facial images) are stored for 10 years. If you later become a Danish citizen, by the way, this data is deleted.

I’ve applied for a replacement residence card but have a trip abroad coming up soon. What can I do?

If you need to travel outside the country before your new permit is delivered, you can apply for a one-time re-entry permit for a specific trip.

This requires an in-person appointment with SIRI although there is no fee for issuing the re-entry permit. You can book an appointment with your closest SIRI branch office here.

When you go to the appointment, you must bring a passport and a completed and printed application form. The form can be downloaded from SIRI in Word or pdf format.

The re-entry permit takes the form of a visa sticker in your passport.  Conditions apply to its being granted, such as legal residency in Denmark and possession of a valid passport.

Normally, you can only be granted a re-entry permit for a specific trip, valid for 90 days. SIRI will usually ask for documentation of your journey (flight tickets, for example).

If you are already outside of Denmark when you lose your permit, you can submit your application for a re-entry permit at the nearest Danish diplomatic mission. A list of these can be found on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The application is normally processed immediately when you submit at a SIRI office, but will take longer when applying from abroad.

READ ALSO: Danish residence cards promised to ‘no surname’ foreign nationals