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BREXIT

Should British-Danish dual citizenship applicants also apply for post-Brexit residency?

British nationals who are applying for, or have been approved for, Danish citizenship in 2021 likely also need to apply for post-Brexit residency in Denmark.

Should British-Danish dual citizenship applicants also apply for post-Brexit residency?
British nationals with active Danish citizenship applications are likely to need to apply for post-Brexit residency status. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

British nationals who moved to Denmark under EU free movement rules before December 31st 2020 must submit an application for new residence status and a new residence document in 2021.

But what about those who are applying or have already been approved for Danish citizenship?

Citizenship entitles you to a Danish passport and gives you the right to vote in parliamentary elections, as well as providing a permanent basis for residency in the country. It also means you retain the right to live and work in Denmark (and other EU countries) even if you leave Denmark.

You must, of course, meet a number of closely-defined criteria and requirements in order to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.

Permanent residency means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not need to apply for residence again, though is important to note that if you leave Denmark for more than two years, you will have to revoke your permanent residency. 

It also means you no longer need to meet the conditions for your original grounds for residence, so you won’t lose your right to reside in Denmark if you stop working or studying, for example.

READ ALSO:

But if you are a British national who is eligible for Danish citizenship, and even if you have already applied for Danish citizenship, you probably need to apply for the post-Brexit residence status as well.

If you have applied for Danish citizenship but not yet received a decision, you need to apply for the post-Brexit status. That is because you would not be expected to become a full Danish citizen by the end of 2021.

Under Danish law, citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalisation: applications must be voted through by parliament. Successful applicants for citizenship receive notification that they will be accepted on the next naturalisation bill. These are normally put forward twice a year, in April and October, and voted through around June and December respectively.

But once the bill with your successful citizenship claim has passed parliament, you are still not a full citizen until you have attended a so-called ‘citizenship ceremony’ at your local municipality and shaken hands with a local official.

Dependent on how far you have come through this process in 2021, you will likely still need to apply for the post-Brexit permanent residency.

“Citizenship is initially effective from the moment the applicant has participated in a citizenship ceremony, if this is a condition [exemption is granted in specific cases, ed.],” the Ministry of Immigration and Integration told The Local via email.

“The law which is expected to be tabled in October 2021 is expected to be passed in December 2021, taking effect around the turn of the year. Since municipalities must conduct citizenship ceremonies one to four months after the law granting the right to citizenship takes effect, the applicant would not be able to take part in a citizenship ceremony before the end of 2021,” the ministry explained.

For applicants not required to take part in the ceremonies, it is currently unclear whether the law will take effect in 2021 or 2022, it added, meaning people in this situation should also apply for post-Brexit status.

As such, British applicants who currently reside in Denmark under the pre-Brexit EU rules for permanent residency must apply for the new document before December 31st.

“If the applicant does not apply for a new residency document according to the (Brexit) withdrawal agreement by the end of 2021, that person risks losing their right to reside in Denmark,” the ministry wrote.

But one group of 2021 citizenship applicants may not need to apply for post-Brexit permanent residency, according to the immigration ministry: those whose applications were already ratified by parliament in June this year.

This group will have already taken part in citizenship ceremonies or have one coming up soon, since these must be held between July and October 2021.

If you have taken part in a citizenship ceremony during this time you will have become a Danish citizen before the deadline for application for post-Brexit permanent residency, namely December 31st.

“However, the ministry generally recommends everyone encompassed by the withdrawal agreement to send their application for residency status to SIRI,” the ministry wrote.

It should be noted that while EU free movement allowed British nationals to live anywhere in the EU, the withdrawal agreement “only gives right in the country in which that person has taken residence and not in other EU member states,” the ministry told The Local.

Additionally, British citizens who moved to Denmark under EU free movement before switching to the new withdrawal agreement residency status will still be eligible for family reunification under EU rules, the ministry also confirmed to The Local. This is provided by the withdrawal agreement and remains valid if that person later becomes a Danish citizen.

“This applies even though the family member does not yet reside in Denmark. However, it is a requirement that the family relation existed before the expiry of the transition period on December 31st, 2020,” the ministry stated.

According to figures provided to The Local by the immigration ministry, the end of the transition period does not appear to have prompted a spike in Brits applying for dual citizenship.

Ministry figures show 527 Brits applied for Danish citizen ship in 2019, followed by 507 in 2020. The data carry a degree of uncertainty because they are based on a registration system, rather than a statistical count.

So far this year (up to September 15th), 290 people with British citizenship have applied for Danish naturalisation, the ministry said.

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BREXIT

Scores of Britons in Denmark may not have received Brexit residency letter

A large number of British nationals who moved to Denmark under EU rules in 2020 may not have received a reminder from Danish authorities to update their residence status ahead of a Brexit deadline, meaning many missed the deadline and could face having to leave.

Scores of Britons in Denmark may not have received Brexit residency letter

Are you a British national in Denmark facing a situation similar to the one described in this article? If so, you can contact us here — we’d like to hear from you.

British nationals who registered as resident in Denmark under EU rules in 2020 – the last year in which EU free movement was available to UK citizens – may not have been officially notified by Danish authorities’ alerts that they needed to apply for updated residence status by the December 31st, 2021 deadline.

That means that people who moved to Denmark from the UK in the year 2020 are more likely to have missed the deadline.

Those who had been living in Denmark before 2020 were much more likely to have received the official notification by Danish authorities.

The issue has potentially serious consequences: the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) is rejecting applications that were submitted late if the reason for late submission was that the applicant did not receive reminder letters in 2021.

As recently reported by The Local, Phil Russell, a 47-year-old financial services administrator who lives in the western part of Zealand, has received notice he must leave Denmark by early December after missing the deadline to apply for a post-Brexit residence permit.

SIRI sent reminders to UK nationals resident in Denmark to update their residence status under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement prior to a December 31st, 2021 deadline. But Russell did not receive the reminders and eventually discovered he had missed the deadline just four days into January 2022.

READ ALSO: Briton living in Denmark urges authorities to reverse his deportation order

Russell’s situation appears to be far from unique. The Local has spoken with several other UK nationals in Denmark who say they did not receive the information letters. All of the UK nationals moved to Denmark in 2019 or 2020 and all of them registered as resident in the country in 2020.

“I am also a British person in Denmark who did not receive any notifications or reminders regarding the need to apply for new paperwork by the deadline,” a reader, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Local via email.

“I tried to stay oriented to post-Brexit issues but have, to date, received no information regarding what is required of me post-Brexit and have never seen any of the ‘extensive ad campaigns’ which were apparently designed to inform people like me. I only became aware that I did not have the correct paperwork when leaving to visit the UK in June,” they said.

“I have called for updates regarding my application and have been told it is still being processed,” they said.

“It does seem unreasonable that a government agency is seemingly putting the responsibility on the resident to know of any changes that need to be made to government records, especially when SIRI has not contacted those who they are now seemingly penalising for applying late,” they said.

“I had not ever moved to a different country before this and I’ve certainly never needed to negotiate the complicated nature of Brexit before. I do not know what is normal or not when it comes to residency documents, so if something is required, I would expect to be contacted directly,” said the person, who was granted residency in Denmark in September 2020 under EU rules.

“I have felt failed by SIRI since I found out I had not been contacted at all, let alone three times. Had I known that I needed to reapply, I would have done so straight away,” they said, adding that they experience “daily anxiety knowing there is the possibility of my application being rejected due to its late submission”.

“If there has been a technical error on SIRI’s part, that they should not penalise residents for this,” they said.

READ ALSO: How do other EU countries’ post-Brexit residence permits compare to Denmark?

Two other people, who both registered as resident in Denmark in 2020 under EU rules, also said they had not received SIRI’s information letters.

“While I received my new permit, I also did not receive the letters about renewing,” Danny Maiorca, who moved to Denmark in September 2020 and registered as a resident the following month, told The Local via email.

Maiorca said the only reason he knew to apply for the updated residence permit was by regularly checking SIRI’s website in 2021.

After initially moving to Denmark in 2019, Alex Stuart registered as a resident under EU rules in 2020. He told The Local he also had not received all of SIRI’s information letters in 2021 and had submitted his post-Brexit residence application after the December 31st, 2021 deadline.

“SIRI hasn’t said anything to me yet, just that they are reviewing my case. But now that I see what they are saying to others I expect my answer won’t be very different,” he said.

The Local has contacted SIRI on repeated occasions to ask whether its information letters failed to reach all persons from the UK who moved to Denmark in 2020. We also asked whether it made sense to revoke the residency status of persons who submitted late applications after not receiving the letters.

The agency has yet to provide an answer but said it intends to respond to our questions. We will update this article or publish a new one once we receive a response.

In an internal record from SIRI which has been seen by The Local, the agency concludes that its information letters were a “supplementary service and part of an information campaign.”

The letters were also available on the agency’s website.

Not receiving the letters was therefore not to be considered an extenuating circumstance in an appeal against a rejected, late application, the agency notes in the internal memo, dated March this year.

SIRI has previously confirmed that as of September 30th, it had received 290 applications for post-Brexit continued residency status after the December 31st, 2021 deadline. Some 17,811 applications were received before the deadline.

Decisions on some applications made after the deadline are still being processed, meaning it is not clear how many UK nationals have already or could yet lose their residency rights.

In a written comment, the British Embassy in Copenhagen said it “is aware that a number of UK nationals residing in Denmark submitted applications for residency after the relevant deadline.”

“The Embassy has been working closely with the Danish authorities on implementation of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and regularising the stay of those UK nationals who have chosen to make Denmark their home,” it said.

British Ambassador to Denmark Emma Hopkins has requested a meeting with the Danish authorities to discuss the application of the rules to UK nationals, the embassy added.

A spokesperson from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said that “anyone who applied before the deadline [December 31st, 2021, ed.] will have their rights protected, even if their application has yet to conclude. The Danish authorities will accept late applications if there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline.”

The Facebook group British in Denmark, which seeks to provide advice and support for UK nationals who live in Denmark, said that of the group’s 1,400 members, only two who moved to Denmark in 2020 have confirmed they received the SIRI information letters.

While some subsequently applied to update their residence status after the deadline, others were able to meet the deadline because they found out about it through the group or via their personal network, a spokesperson from the group said.

“The problem is that if they arrived in 2020, a lot of people didn’t have that network,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s been left up to the specific countries to decide how they’re going to deal with the late applications. So it’s not written in the Withdrawal Agreement,” she noted.

“Each country can interpret it as long as you’re complying with the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement,” she said.

The citizens’ rights section of the Withdrawal Agreement states that “where the deadline for submitting the application… is not respected by the persons concerned, the competent authorities shall assess all the circumstances and reasons for not respecting the deadline and shall allow those persons to submit an application within a reasonable further period of time if there are reasonable grounds for the failure to respect the deadline”.

The text of the agreement states that anyone living in an EU member state before the end of the transition period has the right to remain.

“In the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement, everyone was sent a letter. But the people of 2020 didn’t get a letter,” the British in Denmark spokesperson said.

“We really want as many late applicants as possible to join our group. We’ve got people together to provide support for each other and the late applicants who are in there have found it really, really useful,” she added.

“There are devastating potential consequences for them to be facing this alone with their families,” she said.

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