The expensive and long process of settling down in Denmark with a non-EU national spouse

Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Falling in love with a non-EU citizen comes with a very high price tag for Danes wanting to settle down with their spouses or partners in Denmark. Family reunification in Denmark cost well over DKK 100.000 and critics say that it can put the relationship under strain and be a very long and unsmooth affair. In addition to fronting up large funds, couples must also fulfill stringent criteria such as age, previous visits to Denmark, education, work history, and language skills.

The large cost involved in family reunification is a big concern for Danish partners in international couples and they worry about the long-term effect of the heavy financial burden on the relationship. Line Boe Grumstrup, a Danish national who met her fiancé in Malaysia two years ago, said in an interview with The Local that she feared the rules could have a long-term impact on her relationship.

If a non-EU national fulfills the criteria and is permitted to move to Denmark to live with their loved one, to be allowed to stay in Denmark under family reunification rules they must first pay a one-off application fee of DKK 9,460. In addition, they must provide a so-called ‘bank guarantee’ (bankgarantien) and according to figures from the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen), the amount has nearly doubled since before 2018 from DKK 57,613 to DKK 106,120 as 1 January 2021.

The money has to be placed either with a bank under guarantee to transfer it to local authorities if needed or it can be put in an account from which the local municipality can withdraw funds to pay for unemployment benefits or other related costs if the applicant needs them. It can take up to seven months to process an application for family reunification and during that time the applicant is not allowed to work despite the self-sufficiency criteria. The inequality process does not end once family reunification is granted and for the temporary residence to be extended, the non-EU national has to pass two language exams within certain deadlines. The two tests A1 and A2 cost DKK 2,820 each and if they are passed, DKK 31,836 can be reclaimed from the Bank Guarantee (21,224 kroner for A1 and 10,612 kroner for A2).

International couples who decide to tackle the daunting prospect of meeting the financial demands of family reunification and live together in Denmark are in for a very long process. It usually takes up to 10 years to be granted permanent residency and the Bank Guarantee must remain in place until that time.

About Mette Larsen

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