British citizen faces deportation from Denmark after missing residence card deadline

A UK national has received notice he must leave Denmark by early next month after missing the deadline to register for a post-Brexit residence permit.

A detail from a Danish residence card
A detail from a Danish residence card. A UK national faces deportation for Denmark after filing his post-Brexit application for the card four days after the deadline. Photo: Michael Barrett/The Local

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.

Phil Russell, a UK national who lives in the western part of Zealand with his Danish partner, submitted an application for a post-Brexit residence permit four days after the December 31st, 2021 deadline.

Russell has been informed he must leave the country by December 6th but has the right to appeal the decision. He has notified authorities that he intends to appeal, he told The Local via email.

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet and British newspaper the Guardian have both previously reported Russell’s case.

Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, British nationals who moved to Denmark under EU free movement rules before December 31st, 2020 were required to submit an application for new residence status and a new residence document by the end of 2021.

The applications were submitted to and processed by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

While SIRI sent reminders to UK nationals resident in Denmark during the application period in 2021, Russell told Ekstra Bladet and the Guardian that an error on SIRI’s side meant he had not received these, and eventually discovered he had missed the deadline just four days into 2022.

He was informed in May that his application for residency status had been rejected because it was submitted too late and has now received notice he must leave Denmark by December 6th, he told the Guardian.

“I feel completely devastated. I’ve been through 11 months of hell already, with no end in sight apart from being deported, so that means I’m going to lose my job, my home, my fiancee, being dumped back into London,” he told the newspaper.

Mads Fuglede, a Liberal (Venstre) MP who was the party’s immigration spokesperson during the previous parliament, has called for the deportation to be stopped, saying it is not in the spirit of the withdrawal agreement which intended to give all UK nationals resident in Denmark a straightforward path to stay.

Although a law change may not be necessary to reverse the decision, the issue is complicated by the fact Denmark currently has a caretaker government following the election on November 1st, Fuglede said.

“I don’t know if you need to change the law. There’s no minister I can get an answer from. But I believe that a minister would have the powers to say to the authority – that is, SIRI – that they should accept late applications,” Fuglede told The Local in a telephone call on November 14th.

Fuglede said he had requested the Danish immigration ministry look at the case in October, after the election had been called.

“I felt I needed to create a paper trail. I received the response that I couldn’t get an answer from the minister because there was an election, and that there wasn’t a new government,” he said.

“It’s a regrettable situation but I find it hard to see, due to the circumstance that there is no government, that any more can be done at the moment,” he said.

“I can’t do anything even though I’d like to,” he said.

Contacted by the Guardian, SIRI said it could not comment on an individual case but noted there had been information campaigns with “extensive information on the consequences of Brexit and guidance on how to apply”.

SIRI said it had sent three information letters to about 19,000 resident British citizens – in line with numbers reported in 2021 – and had created a Brexit hotline for questions.

In cases of late applications, SIRI would “assess all the circumstances and reasons” for late application and whether there were “reasonable grounds” the deadline had not been met, it said.

None of the three information letters sent to British residents in Denmark during the Brexit transition period and in 2021 reached Russell, Ekstra Bladet wrote in September.

He moved to Denmark from the UK in 2020 under EU freedom of movement rules, which still applied to British nationals at the time.

He became a legal resident under EU rules but did not subsequently receive notice that his status needed to be updated by the end of 2021 and that he needed to submit an application to SIRI for this.

Ekstra Bladet reported that it had seen an internal record from SIRI in which the agency concludes that the three information letters were a “supplementary service and part of an information campaign,” and were also available on the agency’s website.

Not receiving the letters was therefore not to be considered an extenuating circumstance in an appeal, the agency is reported to have concluded following internal discussions in March this year.

At least three other persons have missed the deadline after not receiving the information letters, according to Ekstra Bladet’s information.

SIRI informed the newspaper it had received 256 applications for post-Brexit continued residency status after the December 31st, 2021 deadline.

These had not all been processed as of September, meaning it is not clear how many UK nationals could lose their residency rights over the issue.

Member comments

  1. This is also the case for a friend of mine. There appears to have been a glitch in Siri’s system so that anyone arriving between October – December 2020 to live in Denmark was not sent the correspondence to apply via e-boks. Siri are claiming (as you reported) this is just guidance despite the fact we were clearly asked to wait until we received our invitation via e-boks and that the friend in question had this reiterated by border control staff.
    I have contacted them to get in touch with you.

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OPINION: Sweden should follow Denmark and reconsider Brexit deportations

Hundreds of Brits who failed to secure post-Brexit residency in Denmark will be given a second chance. Sweden should offer the same kind of amnesty, writes The Local’s editor Emma Löfgren.

OPINION: Sweden should follow Denmark and reconsider Brexit deportations

The Danish government this week announced that British nationals who missed the deadline for post-Brexit residency will be allowed to apply or reapply.

At least 350 British nationals who lived in Denmark at the time of Brexit failed to apply to remain in the country before the deadline of the end of December 2021, and many were subsequently given orders to leave.

But after criticism from rights groups, who accused Danish immigration authorities of not correctly applying the rules of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the government on Monday announced that the initial deadline will now be extended until the end of 2023.

It is time for Sweden to follow Denmark’s lead.

Sweden has ordered more Brits to leave since Brexit than any other EU state. Eurostat data reveals that about 2,205 UK citizens were ordered to leave EU countries between 2020 and September 2022 – with around half of this number from Sweden alone.

It’s hard to get clarity into the facts behind these figures, with authorities conceding there could be some degree of inaccuracy, including people being counted twice. They also include people turned away on the border, so they could also include Brits who never lived in Sweden nor had the right to stay post-Brexit.

At The Local, our reporters have repeatedly contacted both the Migration Agency and the border police for more information, which each authority directing us to the other.

But other figures such as rejected applications support the claim that Sweden has turned away an unusually high number of Brits compared to other EU states.

What we know for sure is that Swedish migration authorities rejected a total of 2,155 applications for post-Brexit residence status between November 2020 and December 2022. It’s not clear how many of these were denied because they arrived after the deadline, but data suggests these were a few hundred at most.

Several readers of The Local have told us they wrongly believed they already had the right to stay in Sweden and did not need to apply for residence status, due to confusion over similar-sounding terms such as residence permit, residence card and residence status.

Late applications are however not Sweden’s only problem.

Other reasons for a rejected application, according to a Migration Agency spokesperson, include “incomplete applications, applications where the applicant did not fulfil the requirement for residence status, and applications listed as ‘reason unknown’”.

They also include people such as Gregory – who had lived in Sweden for 21 years but was in between jobs at the time of the deadline, which meant he did not qualify for residence status. Or Kathleen Poole, a bedbound grandmother with Alzheimer’s.

When The Local in early February asked Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard to explain the high figures, she said they came as “complete news” to her.

“We want them here,” she told us.

She said she could not explain the figures and promised to look into them, but after chasing her office for nearly two months, our reporters have yet to receive a reply.

It’s not as if the risk of deportations should have come as a surprise to anyone.

In the run-up to the Brexit deadline for residency, The Local carried a warning by a leading Facebook group for Brits in Sweden that authorities in the country were not doing enough to reach UK citizens to make them aware of the date.

Malmer Stenergard’s party wasn’t in government at the time, but she chaired the Swedish parliament’s social security committee, which processed the government’s bill on post-Brexit residence status for Brits – a bill the group Brits in Sweden had warned put a concerningly large number at risk of losing their right to stay.

Decision-makers in Sweden have less freedom than their Danish counterparts to influence decisions by government agencies such as the Migration Agency, with so-called “minister rule” being frowned upon – an issue that was brought to its head during the Covid pandemic.

But it should be possible to at least do what Denmark has done and allow those who missed the deadline a chance to reapply and be tried on the same terms as everyone else.

In any case, Brits affected by Brexit deportations deserve an answer, not just silence.

Denmark has found a (half) solution. Sweden, we’re waiting.