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Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules

Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules
A citizenship ceremony in Copenhagen in February 2020. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix
A cross-party parliamentary majority has agreed to back a series of legislation changes on naturalisation of new Danish citizens, the country’s immigration ministry has announced.

In a statement, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration confirmed an agreement for new citizenship rules had been reached between the Social Democratic government and three conservative parties: the Liberal, Conservative and Liberal Alliance parties.

Under the deal new rules will require citizenship applicants to have been in full time work or self-employment for three and a half of the last four years.

Five questions are to be added to the existing citizenship test, asking applicants about “Danish values”. 

“There is strong agreement amongst the parties that it is crucial an applicant has accepted Danish values,” the ministry statement reads.

Foreign nationals applying to become Danish citizens could also face individual interviews designed to test whether they have “Danish values”. The immigration ministry is to set out a model for the potential future introduction of such interviews.

Both the interviews and additional citizenship questions are in line with a proposal made by the Liberal party in February.

The Liberal party’s citizenship spokesperson Morten Dahlin called Danish nationality “a gift which must be earned”.

“The people whom we welcome into the Danish family must have taken Denmark on board and must stay on the right side of the law,” Dahlin added.

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Under Danish law, citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalisation: applications must actually be voted for by a parliamentary majority.

Accepted applications are normally processed via bills put in front of parliament twice yearly, in April and in October.

The bills will now be organised according to the nationality of applicants, a notable change from the current practice of listing them alphabetically.

As such, it will be easy to see which applicants are in the categories set out in the new agreement: “Nordic countries”, “other Western countries”, “‘Menap’ countries [Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan ed.] plus Turkey”, and “other non-Western countries”.

That appears to fall in with a suggestion made by the extreme right wing Nye Borgerlige (New Right) party during talks over the new rules, although that party is not a signatory to the final agreement.

Theoretically, categorising applications this way could make it easier for parliament to reject, or for individual parties to vote against, otherwise-approved citizenship claims based on the source country of the applicant.

The new rules also clamp down on would-be citizens who have broken Danish laws.

Under the new rules, persons with previous convictions for which they have received conditional or unconditional sentence are permanently barred from being granted Danish citizenship. Current rules allow people with unconditional sentences of up to one year to be granted citizenship following a suspension period.

Additionally, people who have received fines of at least 3,000 kroner for breaching immigration laws, welfare fraud or negative social control will now be required to wait for a suspension period of six months before being acceptable for naturalisation.

The agreement also states parliament will look into the possibility of revoking citizenship entirely from Danish nationals who have committed crimes, according to the ministry statement.

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The measure should aim to ensure citizenships can be “revoked as broadly as possible” according to the statement.

In the statement, the government also says that “if there is a sharp increase in the number of applicants for Danish naturalisation from applicants from outside of Europe, the government is obliged to summon the agreeing parties. The parties will then consider the need to change the existing rules”.

“We need to draw a line in the sand. People who have had prison sentences will not have Danish citizenship,” immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said in the press release.


Member comments

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  1. absolutely the right way to go. I moved to DK from another EU country last year – and would not expect to be treated any other way. I am guest in this country and if I want the citizenship (which my husband and son have), I need to behave and be relevantly “naturalised” (and that is not something happening in a few years).

    I have done a similar process in Switzerland – where my family moved when I was just a kid – and never felt anything else but being a guest in this country and having to behave accordingly before I could even think of applying for the citizenship (which btw was also an interview process in the commune, being questioned on “Swissness” by 5 people; it was fine). tough luck if you decide to break the law….

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