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LIVING IN DENMARK

Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules

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.

Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules
A citizenship ceremony in Copenhagen in February 2020. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

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.

READ ALSO: Which European countries have the tightest rules for gaining citizenship?

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

  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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For members

DANISH CITIZENSHIP

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.

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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

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