Danish government could ‘look closer’ at post-Brexit residence rejections

Denmark’s immigration minister has suggested the government could reconsider decisions by authorities to reject late applications by British nationals for post-Brexit extension of their residency permits.

Danish government could ‘look closer’ at post-Brexit residence rejections
Denmark's immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek has not ruled out revisiting Britons' rejected late applications for continued residency in Denmark after Brexit. File photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix

The minister, Kaare Dybvad Bek, suggested in comments to newspaper Politiken that, following criticism of authorities’ information campaign, decisions to refuse extended residence for late application could be revisited.

The government will “look closer” at whether there is reason for “measures to be taken in regards to the affected persons”, he said.

As reported by The Local in December, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), which processes the applications, did not send information letters to people who moved to Denmark from the UK after January 31st, 2020.

Many people – potentially in the thousands – were therefore not directly notified that they needed to submit an application to update their residence status before the December 31st, 2021 deadline.

SIRI did send the letters to over 19,000 British nationals in Denmark, but not those who were registered from February to December 2020. People who moved from the UK to Denmark in this period would have had EU free movement rights and were thereby required to apply for extended residence under the Danish application of the Withdrawal Agreement.

SIRI has rejected late applications for post-Brexit from applicants who did not receive reminder letters in 2021 and has said it will only process late applications if there is “reasonable cause” for their lateness.

An increasing number of instances have been reported of Britons who have been told to leave Denmark for this reason.


Bek had declined to comment on the matter in November in December because the government was in a caretaker role at the time.

The minister, who has retained the immigration brief in the new coalition government, declined Politiken’s request for an interview but has now provided written comment, published by the newspaper on Wednesday.

He said that the information campaigns that took place were “a big effort to inform Britons resident here that they had to apply for new residence permits after Brexit”.

“And I also believe that most people were already aware that the United Kingdom was leaving the EU, and that would have an effect on the residency rights of Britons in Denmark and the rest of the EU,” he said.

The minister declined to comment on whether the information campaign was good enough if it resulted in 300 people missing the deadline, Politiken writes. He conceded that it was regrettable that not all affected people had received the letters from SIRI.

“It’s regrettable that not all Britons who live here received the letters that were sent out as an extra service as part of the information campaign. It would naturally have been best if the letters had reached everyone,” he said.

In a comment that appears encouraging for those directly affected by the issue, he added that the “government will now look closer at whether this gives reason to for measures to be taken in regards to the affected persons”.

Some 17,811 applications were received by SIRI before the deadline. Around 300 British nationals missed the deadline and therefore could face losing their right to reside in Denmark.

SIRI has stated it views “the circumstance that an applicant has not received an orientation letter is not, by our assessment, enough reason in itself for him or her not to comply with the application deadline”.

The agency sees the letters as only being a supplementary service and says that all relevant information was available on its website throughout 2021. 

The Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration will be challenged in court by one of the affected UK nationals, Politiken reports.

One of the affected Britons has brought a case against the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration to challenge the decision not to grant him ongoing residence.

The precedential nature of the case could mean it eventually becomes a question for the EU Court, according to the lawyer representing the British national in the case.

“Our argument is that, on the Danish side, not enough was done to inform about the application deadline for post-Brexit residency. According to the Brexit [Withdrawal] agreement, EU countries must inform about this type of deadline with the help of national and local media. And we now know, amongst other things, that not all Britons in Denmark received information letters about the deadline,” the lawyer, Bjørn Dilou Jacobsen, said to Politiken.

“Our other argument is that insufficient consideration has been made of the circumstances in the individual case in relation to balancing whether a rejection is proportional – what it means for the individual to lose their residence permit,” he said.

The lawyer also told Politiken that he could not see why the Danish authorities have taken such a strict approach.

“It’s difficult to see what the argument is for not giving these members of the public the chance to stay – apart from saying ‘rules are rules’,” he said.

He suggested that all 300 late applications should be reopened, since deciding individually whether to revisit the late applications would be complex.

“I think it could be messy to sit and look through who got these letters, who didn’t, and whose fault it is. Would it not be easier and more elegant to say that we know there are a few hundred Britons who have run into difficulty, we’ll just give them another chance,” he said.

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

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Denmark issued 40 percent more non-EU work permits in 2022

Denmark issued over 21,000 work permits to non-EU nationals in 2022, an increase of over 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Denmark issued 40 percent more non-EU work permits in 2022

Preliminary figures issued by the Ministry of Immigration and Integration show that the number of work permits issued to non-EU nationals in 2022 was 21,553.

That represents an increase of more than 40 percent compared to 2021, when 15,167 permits were issued.

The number of work permits issued by Denmark has seen steady growth over the last four years, according to ministry figures.

In 2019, some 13,713 work permits were issued to non-EU citizens. The number dropped during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to 10,333 in 2020 before rising significantly in 2021 and 2022.

For work permits issued to EU nationals under the EU’s free movement rules, the numbers tell a similar story. Numbers released by the ministry show 18,578 such permits released in 2019, falling to 15,681 in 2020.

EU nationals were given 22,080 and 25,842 Danish work permits in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

It should be noted the British nationals would be registered under the EU category in 2019 and 2020 and the non-EU category in 2021 and 2022.


“In a time with low unemployment it’s hugely positive that so many foreigners are choosing Denmark and contributing to our labour market,” Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek said in a statement.

“That’s a huge benefit for Denmark and the Danish economy. We currently need hands in both the public and private sectors and the many people who come here through business [permit] schemes contribute to growth and better service,” he said.

“I am very pleased we are doing well on attracting labour from outside while also having rules that take good care of Danish wage earners,” he said.

Despite the growth in permits and Bek’s positive view of them, businesses have called for more to be done to increase foreign labour and there is also some demand in the opposition.

The Confederation of Danish Industry said in August that Danish businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit staff and could hire 38,000 new workers immediately if they were available.

The Social Liberals, a centre-left opposition party, in November said it wants Denmark to increase its foreign workforce.

“It is still far too difficult for Denmark’s businesses to bring foreign labour to Denmark. There are trip wires everywhere, and we have a whole catalogue of proposals,” Social Liberal leader Martin Lidegaard said at the time.

In its coalition policy agreement, the government, formed in December, said that it would “relax access to foreign labour for as long as unemployment is low.”

READ ALSO: What do we know about Denmark’s plans to relax work permit rules?