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UKRAINE

Application system jams as thousands of Ukrainians apply for Danish residence under new law

Many Ukrainian nationals have applied for residence in Denmark under a new law passed this week, resulting in possible delays on approval of work permits.

Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye
Danish immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said he expects capacity to be increased after an appointment system for submitting parts of Ukrainian residence applications hit near-capacity. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Thousands of people from Ukraine have applied for residence and work permits in Denmark under a new law passed on Wednesday and a subsequent bottleneck in the system has now appeared, newspaper Politiken reported on Friday.

To get a residence permit under the special law for Ukrainian refugees, applicants must book an appointment at one of four ‘Borgerservice’ (Citizens’ Service) centres across Denmark in order to submit biometric information.

The four centres are located in Odense, Aalborg, Aarhus and Næstved. The latter is the closest to Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Ukrainians can apply for residence and work permits in Denmark

According to Politiken, which tried out the booking system on Thursday, no appointments were currently available this year in Aalborg, Aarhus or Odense.

In Næstved, the only location in the eastern part of Denmark including Copenhagen, the next available appointment was April 2nd.

The government earlier indicated that it expected around 20,000 Ukrainians to flee to Denmark because of the invasion of their country by Russia, which began late last month.

But Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said on Thursday that the government now expects “significantly more” than 20,000 people from Ukraine to eventually arrive.

Tesfaye admitted in comments to Politiken that capacity at Borgerservice centres must be extended including by opening during weekends.

“I expect that, from next week, there will also be the option of submitting an application [biotmetrics, ed.] in Copenhagen and I know that new appointments will appear in the system on an ongoing basis,” the minister told Politiken in a written response.

The Danish Immigration Service told news wire Ritzau on Friday that two additonal locations for the biometry appointments would open on Tuesday next week, and that appointments would be available prior to that. The new locations are in Valby near Copenhagen and in Aarhus.

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IMMIGRATION

Danish police use controversial ‘jewellery law’ 17 times in last six years

More than six years after the controversial 'jewellery law' was passed, enabling Danish authorities to confiscate valuable items from refugees, the law has been used 17 times, according to figures from the National Police.

Danish police use controversial 'jewellery law' 17 times in last six years

The figures were shown by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration, Kaare Dybvad Bek to Danish parliament.

The legislation, which came into effect in February 2016, allows police to confiscate cash and valuables with a value above 10,000 kroner from arriving migrants and asylum seekers.

Under Ministry of Immigration guidelines, police are told not to take wedding rings or engagement rings and individual officers are left to determine the sentimental value of other items.

According to the police figures, there have been between 0 to 5 jewellery law cases a year, from 5th February 2016 to 30th May 2022. For example the law hasn’t been used this year or in 2019 but in 2021, the law was used five times, involving nationals of Iran, Eritrea, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

However it is not clear what has been taken in each case; whether the item was jewellery or what the value was.

Controversy

At the time of its introduction, the law, which was passed by a large parliamentary majority, received criticism from international human rights groups including US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Does a rich country like Denmark really need to strip the very assets of these desperate asylum seekers before providing them basic services?” HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth said in January 2016.

Disapproval could also be found in international media, including in a New York Times editorial and a cartoon published by British paper The Independent, which depicted the Little Mermaid flush with cash and jewellery confiscated from refugees.

Technically the law could have applied to Ukrainians who have come to Denmark as refugees, to escape Russian invasion of their country but Danish parliament decided the law should not apply to Ukrainians.

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