OPINION: ‘Dictatorial to impose new citizenship laws on those who have already applied’

OPINION: 'Dictatorial to impose new citizenship laws on those who have already applied'
Danish passports are becoming more and more difficult to qualify for. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
In this open letter to Denmark's immigration minister, Naqeeb Khan, from the Danish Green Card Holders' Association, argues that the plan to retroactively impose new citizenship requirements is dictatorial.

Dear Mattias Tesfaye,

Every human being has the right to a fair and free chance to survive and grow. These rights are not only guaranteed in the Danish constitution but recognised by UN Human Rights Conventions and EU directives. Over the last few years various Danish governments has been breaching the equal opportunity rights of immigrants, thus violating the fundamentals of Danish values and its constitution.

The constant implementation of laws retroactively, makes them more like dictatorial directives rather than following any democratic norm.

Unfortunately your signed circular, CIS nr 9298 af 06/05/2021 dated 6th May 2021, regarding new Danish citizenship rules violates the basics of UN human rights conventions, EU directives and the Danish democratic norms. It proposes to implement the new Danish citizenship law on all those who have applied after 10 April 2020, which is 13 months prior to the date of agreement over the law.

Though I consider the new proposed rules illogical, discriminatory and unfair, applying it to applications which have already been submitted is unjustified and probably illegal. It violates the basic right to have a fair chance to meet the requirements set.

I recommend following points to be reconsidered in the newly proposed and circulated rules and urge you to change its implementation plan.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s new citizenship requirements are discriminatory and racist

Residency Requirement:

I believe that the residency requirement for citizenship applicants is unjustified. The current residency requirement for citizenship is already one of the highest in Europe at 9 years, but this new residency requirement will make it over 11 years. This is because the new residency requirements asks applicants to hold permanent residency for at least 2 years before the citizenship application is processed, and it takes almost 9 years to obtain permanent residency in Denmark.

This requirement will also create hurdles for young people who are born and raised here, as they will also need to wait for 2 years after getting Permanent residency when they turn 18.

Work Requirement:

The majority of the immigrants are working full-time but many of them also leave jobs for a while to take various professional courses and/or university degrees to strengthen their skills and knowledge, especially after getting permanent residency.

During this period they either take dagepenge (A-kasse, an allowance through a paid Union), supplementary dagepenge (working part-time while taking part of the dagepenge A-kasse) or use their savings for a time being for their brighter future.

The work requirement will force many to remain stagnant at one position, without any training and development, as they will need to show full time work for citizenship application. It will also in the near future force many to stop their dagepenge (A-kasse) subscriptions as it will be of no use if one cannot avail of it for at least the first 10 years of their stay in Denmark. 

This will surely have adverse impact on the economy of many employment union firms. This requirement will also force many to leave their university education or never to start one and instead keep working in unskilled jobs or remain in the same position, which will ultimately impact the Danish labor market.

COVID-19: Imposing a work requirement at a time when thousands of people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will make it impossible for many to fulfill this requirement. In 2020, many people lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 economic lockdown, so requiring immigrants to show full-time work for the last three and half years would be unfair.

Implementation of the rules:

The shocking part of these new rules is the implementation date. You have announced that these new rules will be applied retroactively from April 10, 2020. That is almost 13 months prior to the agreement between the parties on new citizenship rules. This might make the new rules illegal as the court review might declare it illegal to apply rules on those who have already submitted their application a year ago, after fulfilling all the requirements at that time.

Considering Denmark a democratic country, I would like to recommend the following more logical and fair alternatives.

I urge that the requirement to hold permanent residency for two years before the process of citizenship application begins is unnecessary. I recommend dropping this requirement as will only create hurdles in the integration of immigrants as they will be unnecessarily delayed from getting Danish citizenship, which would give them the right to vote and a sense of identity in the Danish society.

I would have the following recommendations for the work requirement clause of the newly circulated rules.

Firstly, I recommend abolishing the work requirement for citizenship applications. It is because an applicant of Danish citizenship has already demonstrated that they have been in full-time work for up to 4 years to get permanent residency. So requiring three and half years’ full-time work over the last for years for a citizenship application is unnecessary and will contribute to an unskilled labor force.

It will only make the prospective new Danes stagnant at the same position, as they will have to continue working in the same job without training and development, which in many cases is only possible by either starting studying full-time or going on various courses which take years.

Another reason to abolish the work requirement is COVID-19. Thousands of people lost their jobs during this pandemic which has made it impossible to demonstrate three and half years full-time work over the last ´four years. This means it will take years before many can meet this requirement.

I would recommend considering dagepenge (A-kasse) as an applicable source of regular full-time work. This is because dagepenge itself requires a person to fulfill certain requirements, which include full-time work over the preceding one year. This will help the prospective new Dane to not only continue their development by taking various courses and university degrees, but it will also help various employment Union firms have higher subscriptions. It will also means bringing a more skilled labour force into the Danish labour market.

I believe that the implementation plan described in the 6th May 2021 ministry circular will make the new rules illegal as they are intended to be applied retroactively from 10th April, 2020.

I believe that;

If the government wants to give a fair chance to each applicant, it will apply the new rules three years from now, from 10th May, 2024. This will allow everyone to fulfill the requirements mentioned in the circular.

If the government would like to be unfair but still, in one way, justifiable, it will apply the new rules from either 10th May 2021 or from 20th April 2021  which is the date the agreement was signed between the parties.

I believe if the government applies the new rules from 10th April 2020, it might make them illegal, as this would probably violate various human rights laws, including the Danish constitution.

I believe that a more suitable way to implement the new rules would be to apply them from the date of signing the agreement, which is 20th April, 2021.

This will mean that all those who have already applied wlil have their applications processed on the basis the old rules. This would also mean that ministry would not be responsible for paying back probably over a million Danish kroner in return fees. This is because each applicant who has applied from 10th April 2020 has paid a fee of 3,800 kroner, and there are thousands who will be affected by these new set of rules. 

I would be pleased if you consider these recommendations and make changes to the new rules accordingly.

I am open to any further discussion, or a meeting that could be either virtual or face-to-face regarding the new rules and my recommendations.

I will be eager to read your response to my letter.

Best Regards

Naqeeb Khan


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.