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Residency permits For Members

What happens to your residency permit if you divorce a Dane?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
What happens to your residency permit if you divorce a Dane?
If you get divorced from a Dane and have no children, it can be hard to keep your residency rights in Denmark. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark has a high divorce rate and for foreigners who marry Danes, it's higher still. So what happens to your residency permit if you and your Danish spouse split up?

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If your residency permit was granted on the grounds of "family reunification with a spouse or partner", and you divorce your spouse or you stop living together with your partner, then the Danish Immigration Service is likely to revoke your permit or, otherwise, refuse to extend it. 

How long have you got? 

You can contact the Danish Immigration Service to inform them of your change of situation, which can be most easily done by logging onto the Min Side page in the Ny i Danmark site.

If you don't do this, they will find out sooner or later, and will then begin an assessment of whether to revoke your residence permit.

As part of this, you will receive a hearing notice from the Danish Immigration Service, inquiring about your personal circumstances and ties to Denmark.

At this point (or when you first contact them if you wish), you should upload any documents or information which might strengthen your case, such as about your job, your Danish studies, your relationships and more. 

According to the Immigration Service, it "typically takes ten months" for it to reach a decision on whether divorced spouses can retain their right to live in Denmark, although it can take more than a year.  

"During this evaluation, the foreign national retains the right to reside and work in Denmark," the Immigration Service told The Local in an email. "If the residence permit expires before the Danish Immigration Service reaches a decision, the foreign national must apply for an extension."

If they revoke or deny extension, you will receive a letter specifying the date when you should leave Denmark and what your options are for appealing the decision. 

If you submit an appeal within seven days of the ruling, you can stay in Denmark and continue to work for the period when the appeal is being processed, which often takes about a year.

This means you can expect to be able to stay living and working in Denmark for almost two years after your actual divorce, even if the immigration service eventually determines that your connection to Denmark is too weak.  

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READ ALSO: 'If you get divorced, there's no way you can stay in Denmark'

What are the grounds under which you can keep your residency? 

According to the Danish Immigration Service's website, the service will "take into account your personal situation" when deciding whether to revoke or refuse to extend your residency permit, and will not do so if doing so would be "particularly traumatic". 

The service will consider each of the following issues: 

  • Your attachment to Danish society and the duration of your stay in Denmark
  • Your age, health, and other personal circumstances
  • Your attachment to others in Denmark
  • Consequences to close family members living in Denmark
  • Your attachment to your home country
  • Whether returning to your home country would endanger you

If you have had a child with your Danish partner, the immigration service will almost certainly extend your residency permit, as the consequences for the child would be too great if one parent was forced to leave the country.

If your parents have died in your home country, that could also help you demonstrate that your connection to Denmark is stronger.  

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Can you apply for residency on alternative grounds? 

While you are waiting for the Immigration Service to decide on whether to revoke or extend your existing residency permit, you cannot apply for a new residency on other grounds. 

But once your residency has been revoked and you have been asked to leave Denmark, you can apply for a work permit on the basis of your job or studies.

If you have been employed in Denmark for at least two years at the same employer and your salary and terms of employment correspond to Danish standards, you can apply for a work permit under the "Labour Market Attachment Scheme" based on your existing employment.

What if your Danish partner or spouse was violent? 

So that people don't end up getting trapped in violent relationships by their residency situation, the service is more lenient to foreigners who have been in violent relationships. 

Even if you have only been living in Denmark for a relatively short period of time, the service will generally not revoke residence permits if the reason for the end of cohabitation or marriage is that the foreigner or their child has been "exposed to violence abuse or other harm" by their spouse or cohabitant. 

You will need to back up your claims with a police report, statements from social authorities, or from hospitals, doctors or crisis centres where you have been treated.  

If you've been living in Denmark for less than two years, you can then keep your residence, so long as you can show "the will and ability to integrate". This might mean having a job or studying, or at least seeking a job. 

If you have been living in Denmark for more than two years, you only need to demonstrate "the will and ability to allow yourself to be integrated into Danish society", which will mean at least looking for a job or receiving Danish lessons. 

If your spouse has made integration difficult by confining you to a house, even these requirements might be dropped.

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What happens if your residency permit is revoked? 

If the immigration service revokes your residence permit or denies an extension, and your appeal is refused, you then become an illegal resident in Denmark and will be given a deadline to leave, normally about four weeks from the time of the decision.

If this happens, you lose your right to work, must resign from any jobs you hold, and then leave the country on the date given. 

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