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Half of all immigrants to Denmark in 2021 moved for work reasons

A new report from Statistics Denmark shows that 48 percent of residence permits granted to foreign nationals in Denmark in 2021 were for employment reasons. Asylum seekers accounted for 1 percent of new residents.

Half of all immigrants to Denmark in 2021 moved for work reasons
Around half of immigrants to Denmark in 2021 moved to the country for work purposes. Photo by Marco Chilese on Unsplash

Since the beginning of the century, the reasons for which foreign nationals are granted residency in Denmark have changed considerably, according to a new report by national agency Statistics Denmark.

Over 48 percent of foreign nationals who moved to Denmark with a residence permit in 2021 did so for the purpose of working in the country.

That is the highest level in the last 20 years.

“During the last 20 years there has been a steep increase of immigration of persons who do not have Danish or Nordic citizenship, only briefly interrupted in 2020 because of Covid-19,” Statistics Denmark senior consultant Jørn Korsbø Petersen said in a press statement.

“But the reason for the immigrants’ residence has changed a lot during this period and last year almost half came to Denmark due to work,” Petersen said.

Data from back in 1997 show that during that year, half of the 21,264 people who were issued residency in Denmark arrived for asylum or family reunification reasons, with 32 percent moving for work or study.

In 2021, those proportions had shifted with 70 percent of the total 52,736 arrivals for reasons of either work or study.

Just 1 percent of residence permits were given for asylum with 5 percent granted family reunification.

The primary reason for that change is the increase in people moving to Denmark from other EU countries, according to Statistics Denmark.

Since 1997, a number of new countries including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania have joined the EU, with immigration from these countries to Denmark for work reasons subsequently increasing.

Nationals of EU countries can freely move to Denmark to work under the right to free movement guaranteed by EU membership. Citizens of other countries do not have the same rights and must fulfil stringent criteria to be granted residency in the Nordic country.

READ ALSO: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

That is reflected by the data, Statistics Denmark notes. Of the 25,500 persons who immigrated to Denmark for work reasons in 2021, 19,500 were EU or EEA citizens.

The numbers show that the demand for labour in Denmark is “almost insatiable” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Tore Stramer, the senior economist with the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv).

“Foreign labour has been a very important lifeline for Danish businesses at this conjuncture,” he said.

“If businesses had not been able to recruit foreign labour, the economic recovery after the corona crisis would have been significantly harder,” he said in a written comment.

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READER QUESTIONS

READER QUESTION: What are the language requirements for permanent residency in Denmark?

What Danish language requirements are needed for permanent residency in Denmark? We take a look at the rules.

READER QUESTION: What are the language requirements for permanent residency in Denmark?

Reader question: What Danish language requirements are needed to get permanent residency in Denmark? I am British and received EU residency prior to Brexit and have been here for two years.

Due to Brexit, British people living in Denmark are either on EU residency permits or non-EU residency permits, depending when they moved to the country.

The Withdrawal Agreement transition period ended on December 31st 2020, so anyone moving from Britain to Denmark after this date came as a non-EU citizen.

In the case in question, the rules relating to EU temporary residency apply. This means it’s possible to apply for permanent residence after five years living in Denmark. Applications can be submitted one month before those five years, so there are just under three years to go for someone who has lived in Denmark for two years.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, there are no language requirements to obtain permanent residency.  This only applies to non-EU citizens, who need to pass the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level.

Below we outline the details.

EU temporary residency

As an EU citizen, your temporary residence permit in Denmark can continue for as long as you meet the requirements (i.e. being employed, self-employed, a student, or through having sufficient funds). If your circumstances change, you have to apply for a new temporary residency.

After five consecutive years, you qualify for permanent residency and this means you can stay in Denmark indefinitely and you don’t need to apply for residency again if your circumstances change. 

However, as an EU temporary resident, it is not mandatory to apply for the right to permanent residence.

Once you have permanent residency, you can leave Denmark for longer stretches of time than with temporary residency but if it is more than two years, you will have to renounce your residency. Only by becoming a citizen can you avoid this.

Non EU temporary residency

The process is more complicated if you’re not in the EU. There are various ways to get a work and residence permit for non-EU nationals, depending on your profession.

Work permits and therefore residency permits are granted for no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. 

If you are a non-EU citizen you can be granted permanent residence once you have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years, or four years in certain circumstances.

EU Permanent residency requirements

You can apply for permanent residency one month before reaching five years residency in Denmark. During those five years, you are allowed temporary residence abroad for a less than six months per year but there are exceptions.

You need to submit your application to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

The documents you need include:

  • A copy of your passport or national ID card 
  • The completed application form
  • Proof how you met your temporary residency requirements over the past five years. This is often tax returns from the past five years. 

The process can take up to 90 days and there is no fee. 

Your family members are not covered by your application and must submit their own applications, after five years of residence.

Non EU Permanent residency requirements

If you are a non-EU citizen then you can be granted permanent residence once you have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years, or four years in certain circumstances.

However, there are other strict requirements to fulfil.

You must not have been convicted of certain crimes; you may not have any overdue public debts; you may not have received certain forms of social benefits within four years of applying for a permanent residence permit; you need to pass the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level. You also need to have current employment – working at least three years and six months of the previous four years.

The rules for permanent residency are more lenient if you are between 18-19 years old, if you are a person of Danish descent, a former Danish citizen, or have ties to a Danish minority group.  

The application takes 10 months to process and costs 6,745 kroner.

It is important to submit the application before a current residence permit expires.

If you do not meet all the requirements for a permanent residence permit, you can apply for an extension of your current temporary residence permit instead. You can do this three months before your current residence permit expires.

If you need any more information or have questions, you can contact SIRI on their contact page.

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