Citizens from most OECD countries are now exempt from tougher Danish immigration test, but others must pay more.
New immigration rules came into effect on July 1 that make it both easier and more difficult to gain Danish residence – depending on where you are from.
Unlike previous immigration reforms, the new rules have not been retroactively applied, meaning applications handed in before the July 1 deadline were treated according to rules at the time.
“We have been quite busy trying to make as many applications as possible to the immigration service,” Åge Kramp from Cityadvokaterne, a law firm that provides legal aid in immigration law, told The Copenhagen Post.
“People don’t even know much more difficult the rules have become,” he said, adding that they handed in 26 applications the day before the rules changed.
Some examples of the stricter rules for family reunification include increasing the compulsory four-year bank deposit from 63,000 kroner to 100,000 kroner, while the fee per application has been raised from 5,975 kroner to 7,775 kroner.
Furthermore, spouses wishing to join their family in Denmark now need to make two visits before being allowed to stay, while the compulsory immigration test has been made more difficult and applicants have to use their own resources to learn the material.
Kramp outlined a list of other details that have made the process of moving to Denmark more expensive and difficult, but highlights the increased difficulty of the tests as the main stumbling block facing foreigners wishing to bring their families to the country.
Åge Kramp and his wife Kwanele leave the office to deliver immigration applications the day before the deadline (Photo: Åge Kramp)
“They are politically motivated tests designed to prohibit people coming to the country,” he said.
The tightening of immigration rules by the government has already had an affect, with only 300 family reunification applications being made per month since the new year, compared with up to 600 per month last year.
But with only 300 applications from immigrants to bring their foreign spouses to Denmark being approved last year – against about 3,000 applications from Danes – some wonder whether the new regulations are even necessary.
“With such low numbers it’s hard for us to see what the serious problem is that the government is trying to tackle,” Mette Blauenfeldt from Dansk Flygtning Hjælp (Danish Refugee Help) told Politiken.
Not all the rules make family reunification more difficult. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Korea and the US are now exempt from taking the immigration test when bringing their families to the country.
That means all member countries of the OECD are no longer expected to take the test, with the exception of Chile and Turkey.
The spouses of active economically-active Turkish citizens living in Denmark were previously exempt from taking the test due to an agreement between the EU and Turkey from 1963.
But after a recent case last December by the EU courts, the Danish government decided they could now be required to take the test, though they do not have to pay the fee.