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Denmark to prevent deportations of people studying for 'in demand' jobs

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Denmark to prevent deportations of people studying for 'in demand' jobs
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen meets social care (sosu) students in Odense in January 2024. Denmark is to adjust immigration rules to prevent deportations of people studying subjects where labour is in-demand. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's Ministry of Immigration and Integration has said it will introduce rules allowing people whose residence permits are revoked to stay in the country if they are studying for professions considered to be in demand on the country’s labour market.

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In a statement, the ministry said that it would give “certain foreigners who are studying within sectors where there is a lack of labour the chance to stay in Denmark and complete their studies so they can contribute to Danish society”.

It said that “in recent years there have been a number of examples of foreigners who have lost their residence permits and been ordered to leave Denmark even though they were studying within an area where there is a high demand for labour, such as the health sector”.

A large number of individual cases fitting that description have indeed been reported by Danish newspapers Ekstra Bladet and Politiken, as well as The Local in recent years, often describing situations where the individuals are required to leave the country despite being apparently well-integrated and engaged on the labour market or in education.

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The government will now table a bill in parliament that will change existing immigration rules to allow foreign nationals ordered to leave Denmark to extend their stay if they have been accepted for or have begun a professional or higher education programme within a sector where there is a labour shortage.

The study programmes that will qualify for this will be selected based on “job functions stated on the so-called positive lists”, the ministry said in the statement. This refers to lists of in-demand professions or trades eligible for work permits used by immigration authorities under the Positive List scheme.

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This can include training programmes for professions ranging from social health (sosu) carers, cooks, carpenters, doctors, nurses and IT engineers, according to the ministry.

Under the new rules, a new residency scheme will exist for persons engaged on education programmes directed towards the eligible professions if their existing residence permit is withdrawn or not renewed.

“It’s important for me that the government pursues strict immigration policies. At the same time it’s a known fact that we need labour – especially in the health sector,” Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said in the statement.

It was therefore “common sense” to introduce the proposed scheme, he said.

“The scheme will affect a relatively small group but is part of the government’s overall effort to secure labour in the health sector,” he said.

The new scheme would take effect from June 1st, according to the proposal, but would apply retroactively for anyone who lost their residency rights from July 1st 2020 onwards.

To qualify, the foreign resident must still be in Denmark and must have been enrolled on the relative education course at the time their residence permit was revoked.

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