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Denmark to ease family reunification rules for Danes with foreign partners

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Denmark to ease family reunification rules for Danes with foreign partners
Denmark is to adjust rules relating to family reunification between Danish nationals and foreign partners. Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

Immigration rules are to be eased so that Danish nationals moving back home after spells living abroad will face fewer obstacles if they have foreign spouses and children.

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The decision, announced on Thursday evening in a statement from the Ministry of Immigration and Integration, also means that a language requirement will be eased for Danes who apply for family reunification for their partners.

That comes after a number of reports told of absurd individual cases whereby a family reunification was refused because the Danish partner – born, raised and schooled in Denmark – failed to meet a Danish language requirement despite Danish being their mother tongue.

The new rules will require the Danish partner to have worked for 30 hours a week for five years in a job where the working language was Danish.

The wording of the current rules means that early school leavers often found their applications rejected based on the language requirement.

READ ALSO: Danish family reunification rules panned in report as Danes fail language test

A new opholdsordning or “residence scheme” will allow returning Danes to bring their families with them based on the same rules which are currently applied to foreign nationals granted work permits in Denmark.

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The coalition government had signalled its intention to adjust family reunification rules after taking office 12 months ago.

In the statement released late Thursday, Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said immgration rules “should not be silly”.

“When it is harder for a Danish citizen with an attractive job offer to bring their family to Denmark than it is for a foreigner, that suggests the rules aren’t working as intended. We are going to change that,” he said in the statement.

“We have seen too many examples of Danish men who could not bring their foreign spouse here because the Danish men could not document their Danish proficiency. That is despite them having Danish as their mother tongue and having worked at Danish-language workplaces for years,” he said.

The minister also said the existing rules are intended to ensure foreign nationals who move to Denmark learn sufficient Danish before being permitted to bring their families with them.

The Danish rules apply to spouses who are not citizens of EU countries. EU citizens can move to Denmark with their partners under EU free movement rules, as can couples who have lived in the EU for a certain amount of time, gaining EU residence rights before moving to Denmark.

Other existing family reunification criteria, including the controversial "bank guarantee" in which couples must deposit a large lump sum with authorities, are to be retained, the ministry said.

“We must hit the right balance so the rules don’t have an unintended effect, but we should also not open the gates. I think we’ve found that balance now,” Bek said.

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