Britons told to leave Denmark over late residence applications could get reprieve

A large number of British nationals who face having to leave Denmark after missing a deadline to renew residence permits after Brexit could have their cases reassessed.

Britons told to leave Denmark over late residence applications could get reprieve
Danish immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek - here pictured when the coalition government was announced - has said help is on the way to British residents of Denmark who missed a post-Brexit deadline to renew their residence permits. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Over 350 UK nationals resident in Denmark did not meet a December 31st 2021 deadline to submit applications to renew their residency permits under Denmark’s application of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

This resulted in many not having their residence permits renewed, but they may now be allowed to remain in the country after the immigration ministry said it wanted to help them.

Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek confirmed in a written comment to newspaper Politiken that the affected British citizens in Denmark would be given assistance with the aim of enabling them to stay in the country.

“It has always been the government’s intention to make it easy and smooth for British citizens to stay in Denmark after Brexit. That’s why we must give a helping hand to those who did not apply in time,” Bek told the newspaper.

“I look forward to us hopefully soon being able to present a solution,” the minister said. 

The affected British nationals faced having to leave Denmark after the authority that processes the applications, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), began rejecting applications that were submitted late without what it deemed to be “reasonable” cause for a late submission.

The issue was complicated because SIRI did not send information letters about the application deadline directly to people who moved to Denmark from the UK after January 31st, 2020.

That meant many people – potentially in the thousands – were not directly notified that they needed to submit an application to update their residence status before December 31st, 2021. SIRI has previously stated it viewed “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”.

SIRI did send letters to over 19,000 British nationals in Denmark, but only to earlier movers — not those who registered after moving to the country between February and December 2020. Some 17,811 applications were received by SIRI before the deadline. 

According to figures provided by SIRI to The Local in January, 352 late applications have so far been received by the agency. Of these, 50 were rejected while 179 were pending. Some 113 had been approved despite late submission and 10 lapsed without an outcome. The figures cover late submissions from persons who both did and did not receive the information letters.

The Local has previously reported on individual Britons who faced having to leave homes, jobs and loved ones in Denmark over the issue.


Because of ongoing work at government level to find a resolution for the affected Britons, SIRI is no longer asking British nationals who submitted late applications to leave Denmark.

In a statement on its website, the agency wrote that “The Ministry of Immigration and Integration has stated that it seeks to find a solution for UK citizens and their family members who have not submitted an application for new residence documents under the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom before the deadline expired on 31 December 2021.”

“Following this statement… SIRI has decided that for the time being, SIRI will not reject pending applications with no reasonable reasons for not having met the deadline. Instead, these cases will be put on hold,” it said.

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Bank guarantee: Could Denmark change ‘demeaning’ family reunification rule?

A rule requiring Danes and foreign partners to deposit a large sum of money to qualify for family reunification is again in the spotlight after reports on its administrative costs.

Bank guarantee: Could Denmark change 'demeaning' family reunification rule?

In its policy paper from December 2022, the coalition government stated it wants to halve the “bank guarantee” (bankgaranti), a requirement which demands couples deposit a large sum of money with municipalities for the foreign (non-EU national) partner to be granted a residence permit under family reunification rules.

According to figures from the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen), the bank guarantee, which must be paid in order for the foreign partner to be granted residence, is set at an eye-watering 110,293 kroner (€14,800) in 2023.

It is currently unclear when a bill will be tabled in parliament to implement the government’s planned reduction of the bank guarantee under Danish law. Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek told newspaper Ekstra Bladet in January that a proposal could be ready for hearing “this spring”.

But it has become a renewed topic of discussion after broadcaster DR this week reported that Copenhagen Municipality has not once used any bank guarantee deposits within the last three years, but has spent 2.2 million kroner annually on administration of the rule.

The purpose of the bank guarantee is ostensibly to ensure that municipalities can draw from the fund to pay for costs such as unemployment benefits, if the family reunified person needs them.

But the requirement may have little practical effect because foreign nationals resident under family reunification rules are likely to lose their residence status anyway if unemployed, negating the need for social welfare benefits.

Copenhagen currently has around 4,000 active bank guarantees and the cost of administration of these deposits – around 2.2 million kroner per year – was spent without any of them being used, DR reports based on an access to public records request.

In Aarhus, the municipality uses resources approximate to one full-time employee per year on administration of the scheme, according to DR. Like in Copenhagen, there were no withdrawals in 2022. There were “few” cases where the money was used in Aarhus in preceding years according to the report.

“I’m a supporter of strict immigration rules but it should not be crazy,” the head of Copenhagen Municipality’s integration and employment committee Jens-Kristian Lütken, an elected official with the Liberal (Venstre) party, told DR.

“It looks that way from my chair when we are spending so much money on something where no one is being sanctioned,” he said.

Social Democratic councillor for social issues and employment in Aarhus, Anders Winnerskjold, told DR that “this is an example of something where we say ‘are we actually getting the benefit we think we are’, and we’re actually not because we’re spending more time on it than is needed in reality”.

“I basically agree that we should be careful about creating a flow of people that must be provided for by Danish taxpayers, and as such the intention behind the bank guarantee is good,” he said.

“But you have to say that we’re not really hitting the target here, so there must be other ways to solve this problem,” he said.

After 10 years – the usual point at which permanent residency can be granted – the bank guarantee is no longer required, but it must remain in place until this time.

An affected Danish national who spoke to The Local in 2021 described how the bank guarantee posed a hefty financial burden that made it harder for international couples to live up to the many other integration demands placed on third-country partners.

The bank guarantee has been criticised in the past for being unfit for purpose and an administrative burden for local authorities.

Organisation Marriage Without Borders (Ægteskab uden Grænser) says it wants the bank guarantee to be abolished and replaced with the same criteria used for family reunification under EU law.

“On a human level, there are many Danes who feel alienated and find the criteria demeaning because it means in practice that you must demonstrate that your partner is not a threat to Danish society,” the organisation wrote in a social media post.

“Even if the security guarantee is halved (as the government plans), there will still be Danes who ‘can’t afford love’, such as young students,” it also stated.

In a written comment to DR, Bek said that “foreigners who come to Denmark should be self-sufficient and not a burden to the state. The bank guarantee, which was introduced over 20 years ago, helps ensure that”.

“In addition to the preventative effect that the bank guarantee has, it also enables municipalities to recover potential future costs in the event that a family reunified person receives benefits,” he stated.

“It is obviously not a criteria for success that municipalities withdraw money from the bank guarantee. The criteria for success is the opposite: that family reunified persons continue to provide for themselves,” he added.

The minister has previously confirmed that the government wants to reduce the bank guarantee to enable people with lower disposable sums to apply for family reunification.