Citizenship: Foreigners in Denmark could face interviews to test ‘Danish values’

Foreign nationals applying to become Danish citizens could face interviews designed to test whether they have 'Danish values', as part of a new proposal by the main opposition party that has some backing from the government.

Citizenship: Foreigners in Denmark could face interviews to test 'Danish values'
People attend a citizenship ceremony at Copenhagen City Hall in February 2020. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The centre-right Liberal party, the largest currently in opposition, wants to introduce the measures and will push for them in negotiations over new citizenship rules, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.

Specifically, the party wants to add five questions to the existing citizenship test on so-called ‘Danish values’. These could include questions relating to disagreements between Danish law and religious ideology or whether women should be freely allowed to choose romantic partners, according to the report.

Additionally, the Liberal party is calling for would-be nationals to write a cover letter with their citizenship application, explaining why they want to become Danish.

Further, a personal interview would seek to determine whether that person has “Danish values”.

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“Good behaviour alone is not enough. If you want to be a Danish citizen, you must have taken Denmark in,” the Liberal party spokesperson for citizenship, Morten Dahlin, told Jyllands-Posten.

The existing citizenship application process includes criteria on employment, Danish language proficiency and a clean criminal record. It also requires applicants to declare that they respect Danish values and democracy using the personal digital signature, NemID.

READ ALSO: Applying for Danish citizenship: The process explained

“But that is not pressure-tested in the application process, and I think that is wrong,” Dahlin said.

The new measures would ensure newly-nationalised Danes have “loyalty to democracy and Denmark,” according to the Liberal party.

In a second article on the new proposal, Dahlin tells the newspaper that it is not correct to assume that integration of foreign residents “goes both ways”.

“Integration is not about building bridges. Integration is about the people who come to Denmark going over the bridge that is already here,” he said.

“And if you don’t want to go over that bridge – which consists of things like the Constitution taking precedence over the Quran, and women being able to choose their own partners – then Denmark isn’t the place to make your home country,” he continued.

Dahlin’s opposite number with the governing Social Democrats, Lars Aslan Rasmussen, said he agreed with the aims of the Liberal plan but wants to know how the proposed rules will ensure applicants are telling the truth, Jyllands-Posten writes.

The centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party has said it opposes the plan.

“It would be nothing but a waste of everyone’s time to summon (citizenship applicants) to a physical democracy interview,” the party’s citizenship spokesperson Andreas Steensberg told Jyllands-Posten.

According to Steenberg, people who are so far removed from Danish democratic values would not find themselves on a position to apply for citizenship because “they would have committed a crime or done something else that disqualifies them”.

Peder Hvelplund of the left-wing party Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) criticised the plan as “far-reaching” and “a form of thought control that people should act in a certain way or have a certain view of things”.

The proposed screening interview received the backing of the populist Danish People’s Party (DF), whose spokesperson Marie Krarup said there was “a risk of thought control, but that’s also what we want”. The right-wing party’s previously stated aim is to greatly reduce the number of citizenships granted by Denmark.



Member comments

  1. It takes more than a full 8 years to apply for citizenship. If during this time a person was not charged with legal violations (incl. human rights or religious extremism) why exactly is it needed to include those questions?
    second point is Denmark is highly open multicultural democracy, who exactly decides which 3 questions are most important to be fit for Danish Way? What if person shares views opposite to Liberal party but in full compliance with other parties messages?

    I do understand the need for conformity, but in all true it should not be addressed via questions, we pay huge taxes, how about PET entitled and experienced in security and intelligence does its job on checking potential candidates for absence of ties to ISIS for example or due diligence of social media posts about women rights etc?

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Do children born in Denmark automatically get Danish citizenship?

A Danish passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. But what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Denmark?

Do children born in Denmark automatically get Danish citizenship?

Denmark allows dual citizenship, meaning it is possible for foreign residents to gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship, if their country of origin also permits dual citizenship. There are a few benefits that only Danish citizens have, such as an absolute right to live and work in the country and the right to vote in Danish parliamentary elections.

Some jobs are only open to Danish citizens as well: you must be a Danish citizen if you wish to be elected to parliament or join the police.

In addition to this, Danish nationals hold EU citizenship, which gives them the right to free movement in EU member states, making it easier for them to live and work in other parts of the bloc.

Danish at birth

Unlike in other countries such as the United States, people born in Denmark do not automatically gain Danish citizenship.

Danish citizenship is granted at birth to children who have at least one Danish parent, regardless of whether the child is born in Denmark or not. For children born before July 1st 2014, this depends on the law in force when the child was born and other requirements may need to be fulfilled.


Dual citizenship

On the September 1st 2015, a new Nationality Act meant foreign residents could gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship.

It also meant that former Danish citizens who lost their Danish nationality by acquiring a foreign nationality could become Danish citizens again by making a declaration to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration. The new timetable to make this declaration is between July 1st 2021 and June 30th 2026.

Children born abroad: The 22-Year Rule 

Children born abroad to a Danish parent but who have never lived in Denmark, or visited for a lengthy period of time (adding up to at least a year which has to be documented) lose their Danish citizenship at the age of 22, unless it means the person becomes stateless.

Danish children born abroad must therefore apply to retain their Danish citizenship before the age of 22. If they are still living abroad at the time, their connection to Denmark will be assessed. This takes into account the number of visits to Denmark and level of Danish.

The Princess Rule

Children born in marriage to a Danish mother and a father of foreign nationality during the period of January 1st 1961 to  December 31st 1978 did not obtain Danish nationality by birth. As an alternative, Danish mothers had the option to make a declaration by which their child obtained Danish nationality.

Children born during this period whose mother did not make a declaration to this effect may apply for Danish nationality by naturalisation according to the “Princess Rule”.

Does a child born to foreigners need a residence permit?

If you are a child born in Denmark by foreign national parents, you need to apply for a residence permit.

The requirements for qualifying for a residence permit are more relaxed than for children born abroad. The child needs to either be registered as a family member to an EU citizen if under the age of 21, or registered under family reunification if the parents are not EU citizens.

The child’s residence permit will expire when the parent’s residence permit expires and can also be extended with the parent’s permit. It may also be possible for the child to obtain a permanent residence permit aged 18 by meeting more lenient requirements.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Denmark?

When can my child gain Danish citizenship?

If your child is born in Denmark but neither parent is Danish, they have to wait until one parent is granted citizenship.

Danish requirements for citizenship are some of the toughest in the world and you must meet a number of closely-defined criteria in order to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.

The wish to include a child in the application has to be stated and they must be under the age of 18, have Danish residency, not have committed any crime and be unmarried. No fee is payable for minors. Children aged 12 or over must give their consent to becoming Danish.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark