Danish family reunification rules should discriminate based on language skills: government

The Local Denmark
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Danish family reunification rules should discriminate based on language skills: government
File photo: Erik Refner/Scanpix Denmark

Rules for family reunification in Denmark could be comprehensively revamped in line with a new proposal by the government.


The new proposal contains six requirements for approval of residency for spouses moving to Denmark, reports newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

New rules on the area would replace current requirements based on the so-called “attachment requirement” (tilknytningskravet).

The proposed new rules would make it more difficult for certain groups in Denmark to bring partners to the country and easier for Danes based abroad to move back home with foreign spouses, reports the newspaper.

The new requirements would be primarily aimed at “persons that are not integrated”, writes Jyllands-Posten.

“We must ensure that those persons that are brought to Denmark through family reunification actually become integrated and contribute to society,” immigration minister Inger Støjberg told the newspaper.

All mixed-nationality couples where the non-Danish partner does not hold EU citizenship must currently fulfil the attachment requirement. A previous rule, known as the 26-year rule, which exempted Danes holding citizenship for 26 years or more from their partners being subject to the attachment rule, was abolished by a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in 2016.

The rule discriminated against Danes who were born in the country or arrived at a young age, for example as refugees, but were not granted citizenship until later, the ECHR found.

Those rule changes resulted in several cases being reported of spouses who would have been granted residence through the exemption being told to leave the country.

The new requirements would be integration-focused, with applicants required to fulfil four out of six to qualify for family reunification.

Individuals applying for partners to be granted family reunification would be required to pass a high-level Danish language test. Additionally, both partners must meet three out of five further requirements.

The five further requirements are based on areas such as employment and education, writes Jyllands-Posten.

In addition to integration-related requirements, further curbs are also proposed by the government, including refusal of family reunification for those living in ‘underprivileged areas’ – defined by the proportion of residents in employment.

The right-wing Danish People’s Party and largest opposition party the Social Democrats both responded positively to the proposal.

A second opposition party, the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, called it “education snobbery”.

EU citizens would not be affected by the new rules.

Torben Tranæs, research director with the Danish Centre of Applied Social Science, told Jyllands-Posten the language demand was likely to be relatively high.

“It will certainly make it harder – bordering on impossible – to bring a partner here for persons who are not well integrated,” Tranæs said.

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