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Working in Denmark For Members

How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?
There are several routes through which you can apply for a work permit in Denmark. Photo of commuters on their way to work on Dronning Louises Bro, Copenhagen: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

If you want to work in Denmark as a non EU citizen, you must apply for a residence and work permit and then get extensions to this, if you want to work in Denmark longer-term. Here's a guide to what you need to know.

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The rules regarding residence and work in Denmark are administered by the Danish Immigration Service and The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) under the Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

As an EU citizen, you can freely enter Denmark and begin to work upon arrival without needing a permit to work. The case is different for those who are not EU citizens.

There are various ways to get a work permit, depending on your profession. A list of different types of work sectors and requirements needed, can be found on the website nyidanmark.dk.

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These include Fast-track scheme, Pay limit scheme, Positive lists, Researcher, Employed PHD, Guest researcher, Special individual qualifications, Herdsmen and farm managers, Establishment card, Start-up Denmark, Trainee, Certification, ESS Scheme, Authorisation, Labour Market Attachment, Drill rigs and other mobile workplaces, Volunteer, Sideline employment, Employment for adaptation and training purposes, Work permit for accompanying family members.

On 1st April 2023, changes to Denmark's work permit rules came into affect, making it easier for companies to hire internationally.

Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme (Beløbsordning)

This enables you to get a work permit based on the amount of your salary. Due to the immigration rule changes, this pay limit is now 375,000 kroner per year.

So if you have a job offer with a salary of at least 375,000 kroner per year, you can get a work visa based on the Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme (it is technically a separate programme rather than a revision of the existing one).

It can be applied for by third-country (non-EU) nationals offering work by a Danish employer. Working hours must be at least 37 hours per week. You don't need a specific educational background or a job within a specific professional field. If you have requested asylum in Denmark and have been offered a job with a salary of at least 375,000 per year, you can also apply based on this scheme. 

The employer must declare that the job position has been posted on Jobnet and EURES for at least two weeks prior to applications. SIRI runs spot-checks to verify the declarations. 

The scheme can only be used when seasonally adjusted gross unemployment has not exceeded an average of 3.75 percent in the three months prior to applying. As Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage, this is not likely to happen in the imminent future, but it could eventually come into play.

It should be noted that jobs given to non-EU citizens hired internationally are subject to international classifications ensuring that if the role being hired for was normally paid 425,000 kroner, for example, employers will still have to pay this level, and not the 375,000 kroner minimum.

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Pay Limit Scheme

This is the old scheme, where the salary requirement is a minimum of 448,000 kroner per year.

The same conditions as the Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme apply, except the job does not need to have been advertised on Danish portal Jobnet and the EURES portal for at least 2 weeks prior to application and gross unemployment levels do not affect applications. But the salary offer must be at least 448,000 kroner per year.

READ ALSO: Pay Limit Scheme: What to know about the changes to Denmark’s work permit programme

The Fast-Track Scheme makes it faster and easier for certified companies to recruit foreign employees with special qualifications to work in Denmark. It also allows the employees to work both in Denmark and abroad. 

If an employer and employee agree they want the new job to be started quickly, the employer can submit an application under the Fast-track Scheme on behalf the employee.

By registering for the scheme, employers can enable their foreign hires to be granted a temporary work permit so they can start their job immediately after arriving in Denmark, or – if the employee is not exempt from Danish visa rules – get them a permit including an entry visa within 10 days.

The rule changes from April 2023, mean companies with ten employees can make use of the scheme, as opposed to the previous requirement of 20 employees. 

The new rules have also given the scheme a “fifth track”. This means the scheme can be used by non EU nationals employed by a certified company through the Supplementary Pay Limit scheme, with an annual salary of at least 375,000 kroner.

The new fifth track exists alongside the four other tracks. These include the regular pay limit track, which still has a minimum salary of 465,000 kroner, short-term workers, researchers, and people who will be receiving or giving training during their stay in Denmark.

In some instances, you will need Danish authorisation or temporary authorisation for your profession in order to be granted the work permit. This primarily applies to professions which are regulated by law, such as lawyer, financial advisor, or doctor, for example.

More details on each of the tracks can be found on the SIRI website, the agency which processes work permit applications.

READ MORE: Fast Track Scheme: What are the new rules on Danish work permit programme?

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The Positive List for people with a higher education or certain work skills, is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark.

If you have been offered a job included in the Positive List, you can apply for a Danish residence and work permit based on this scheme.

The Positive List for people with a higher education and for skilled work is updated twice a year on 1st January and 1st July.

The new work permit rules mean more titles have been added to the list from April 2023. This includes  “regional labour market councils” and “specialised a-kasser” (unemployment insurance providers).

For requirement details of other work sectors, you can find more at nyidanmark.dk.

Foreign graduates of Danish universities 

This applies to foreign nationals who complete degree programmes with a Danish Professional Bachelor's (vocational), Bachelor's, Master’s degree or PhD degree.

Under the new rules, these students will automatically be given a three-year (a longer period than the two years given under the old rules) “job seeking period” in which they have the right to live and work in Denmark.

The student must not give up their Danish address or stay abroad for longer than six successive months, or work in other Schengen countries.

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Start-up Denmark scheme for entrepreneurs

Start-up Denmark is a scheme for foreign entrepreneurs. Two-year work permits can be granted based on a business idea which must be approved by a panel of experts appointed by the Danish Business Authority. If the business is successful, the permits can be extended for three years at a time.

The scheme can be used by both individuals and teams of up to three people who want to start a business together in Denmark through a joint business plan. You must provide documentation that you have sufficient funds to cover your first year in Denmark. If your family is accompanying you to Denmark, you must also provide documentation of your ability to support them.

The business or the Danish branch of the foreign business must contribute innovative ideas and potential for development to the Danish business community. You can read more about the evaluation criteria on the webportal of the panel of experts.

As with the Positive List, the April 2023 rule changes have opened up the scheme to a broader range of applicants.

READ ALSO: How long can you leave Denmark for and not risk your residency?

What about partners and family members?

A residence and work permit based on a job in Denmark allows your family to come with you to Denmark. 

A permit can be granted to your spouse, registered or cohabiting partner as well as children under the age of 18 living at home.

Holding a residence permit as an accompanying family member to an employee in general allows you the right to work in Denmark. Therefore, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit if you get a job. You are also allowed to run your own business and sign up to a programme in an educational institution.

However, you must apply for a work permit if you want to work for the same company as your partner (who is referred to as sponsor), or if you want to work for a company closely linked to your partner's company.

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How long will my permit last?

Work permits are no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. So you also need to apply for an extension to residency based on your work permit, which will be on the same conditions as you got the first one.

In order to extend your permit, your employment must not have changed. This means that you must be employed in the same position, by the same employer and under the same or improved terms of employment.

If you change jobs, you need to apply for a new work permit or if your salary or other employment terms are diminished, you must inform SIRI.

If you have a resident permit based on your partner (sponsor’s) employment and their employment is extended, you must also apply for an extension of your residence permit.

Permanent residency

Once you become a permanent resident, you no longer need to extend your work and residence permit.

Permanent residency for non EU citizens is granted after living and working in Denmark for eight continuous years, or four years in certain circumstances. You can apply for permanent residency at anytime and it usually takes 10 months to process at a cost of 6,745 kroner.

If you need any more information or have questions about work permits, you can contact SIRI on their contact page.

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