REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS IN DENMARK
Read the government platform ”ET DANMARK DER STÅR SAMMEN” (sticking together in Denmark. The document is only in Danish). Written by the government parties - the Danish Social Democrats, the Danish Social-Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party, October 2011. http://stm.dk/publikationer/Et_Danmark_der_staar_sammen_11/index.htm
What is the definition of an asylum seeker?
An asylum seeker is a foreigner, who are applying for the right to live as a refugee in another country and to be protected by this country, but who have not yet been recognised as a refugee. In 2004, Denmark received only 1.1 percent of all asylum seekers in the EU.
What is the definition of a refugee?
A refugee is a person who have been granted asylum, and who therefore, have been granted a residence permit.
Is there a difference between refugees and immigrants?
Immigrants have left their home countries voluntarily, to seek employment or opportunities elsewhere. Refugees are forced to leave their countries because of war and political persecution.
How many asylum centres are there in Denmark?
As of November 2011, The Red Cross are running 12 asylum centres on Zeeland and in Jutland. In addition, Jammerbugt Municipality are running two centres, Thisted Municipality are running three centres and Langeland Municipality are running one centre. This brings the total to 18 centres in Denmark.
Where do the asylum seekers come from?
Asylum seekers come from a number of different countries. The largest groups in November 2011 were from:
How many refugees come to Denmark?
All in all, there are 107,000 refugees in Denmark.
5,115 asylum seekers came to Denmark in 2010. In reality, not all will have their case processed in Denmark.
How many get asylum in Denmark?
* Gross number of applicants. Of these, not all cases are processed in Denmark.
** Includes all residence permits regardless of status.
How many unaccompanied minors come to Denmark?
Minors also seek asylum in Denmark without their parents. In November 2011 alone, 103 minors lived at the Red Cross asylum centres. In 2010, 680 minors were taken care of by the Red Cross, most of them came from Afghanistan.
For how long do asylum seekers live in Denmark?
According to the Danish Immigration service, the average stay for an asylum seeker in November 2011 was 600 days.
Who decides where the refugees will live?
The Danish Immigration Service does Which centre asylum seekers are placed at depends on how far in the process their case is. All asylum seekers live at Centre Sandholm when they first arrive.
Do the refugees work?
Many refugees work. However, it is more difficult for refugees to get a job than it is for other citizens. About 30 per cent of refugees in Denmark suffer from trauma, meaning that refugees end up on incapacity benefits more frequently than the rest of the population. At the same time, refugees' poor knowledge of Danish and low level of education means that they are often employed in fields of industry or service. These jobs are very sensitive to the market and are typically the first to disappear in times of crisis.
38 per cent of immigrants from non-western countries (including refugees) receive public benefits, while the share of the whole population receiving benefits is 24 per cent.
Can refugees become Danish citizens?
Refugees can become Danish citizens and enjoy the fundamental rights that come with the citizenship. However, the road is long and difficult.
Language knowledge: Denmark has the highest language requirement in relation to obtaining citizenship.
(In Denmark there is a test in Danish 3, corresponding to B2 in the European council’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
It is necessary to get at least a 4 on the Danish 7-point scale (-3, 00, 02(pass), 4, 7,10 and 12)
Citizenship test: The test consists of 40 questions about Danish history, culture and social conditions, of which, 32 must be answered correctly.
Status and stay: The residence permit must be for an indefinite period and 9 (8 years for refugees) years of discontinuous stay in Denmark.
Debt: An immigrant wanting citizenship is not allowed to have particular types of debt to the state.
Self-supporting: An immigrant wanting citizenship must not have received benefits from the state for more than 6 months within the last 5 years.
Is it easy to be reunified with the family
It is possible for refugees to be reunified with spouses or children under the age of 15. It is necessary to live up to a number of requirements.
Permanent residence permit: The person in Denmark must be a Danish/Nordic citizen, have a permanent residence permit or an indefinite residence permit for 3 years. It takes 7 years to obtain a permanent residence permit. In practice, the stay will be at least 10 years.
Age and wish: Demands for married couples under the age of 24 have been tightened up, and it must not be an arranged marriage.
Association: The association with Denmark must be greater than the association with any other country.
Self-supporting: An immigrant wanting family reunification must be able to support his or her spouse and put up a financial security of DKK 63,413 p.a. (2011 level)
Accommodation: An immigrant wanting family reunification must have a residence of a certain size.
Integration certificate: Both parties must sign a certificate of active integration participation.
Crime: An immigrant wanting family reunification must not have been convicted of violence against his or her spouse or partner within a period of 10 years.
Immigration test: Since the law was changed in 2007, the foreign spouse must pass an immigration test.
The latest restrictions of the law for family reunification
In 2010, the then government introduced a point system for family reunification. Denmark is the only country with a point system that determines whether an immigrant can be reunified with the family or not. These restrictions do not apply to refugees, as refugees are exempt because of the international conventions Denmark has signed.
Denmark’s international commitment to protect the right to a family life means that refugees can be exempt from the ordinary conditions that apply for family reunification, if they still risk persecution, and therefore cannot live together with their family in their home country.
The EU rules
Immigrants, gaining Danish citizenship, are covered by EU regulation. The age requirement does not apply according to EU law, but the most fundamental requirements about valid marriage, regular stay in the EU and actual employment must still be fulfilled.
Most sources are only in Danish
- The Danish Immigration Service,”Tal og fakta på udlændingeområdet 2010”
- The Danish Immigration Service, Ny i Danmark DK (New to Denmark)
- Statistics Denmark, Indvandrere i Danmark 2011(Immigrants in Denmark 2011)
- Danish Refugee Council
- Danish Red Cross
Danish Red Cross: http://www.rodekors.dk/det+gør+vi/fakta+om+asylansoegere(not in English)
Danish Refugee Council: http://flygtning.dk/viden-fakta/flygtninge-i-danmark/ (not in English)
The new government foundation
- The government will eliminate the point system and restore the 24 year rule and association requirement to the definition which was in force before the point system was introduced in 2011.
- The government will also change the 28 year rule, that make an exemption from the association requirement, to a 26 year rule.
- Family reunified foreigners must receive Danish lessons as soon as they move to Denmark and they must pass a Danish language test. The Immigration test will be abolished.
- The new fees for applying for residence permits will be discontinued, just as the increased guarantee of DKK 100,000 will be lowered to DKK 50,000. The spouse living in Denmark can put up the guarantee.
- The rules for family reunification for children must be revised, as there are many and diverse examples of children getting tangled up because of these rules.
- Asylum seekers must have the opportunity to work and live outside of the asylum centres. That way, the rejected asylum seekers can see themselves as real people, and they become more competent. That means, that they will be more easily integrated into Danish society if they get asylum, or they will have better qualifications to start a new life when they return home.
- That is why rejected asylum seekers, who cannot return home and who have
co-operated on the repatriation measures, and asylum seekers, who's case is still being processed, must be able to work and live outside of the centres after 6 months.
- The Refugee Appeals Board must increase their knowledge to improve processing of cases. Therefore, the Danish government will increase the Refugee Appeals Board with two members – one person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one person from the Danish Refugee Council.
- Children on the run are particularly vulnerable and have a particular right to protection. The government is investigating whether the Danish Aliens Act is in accordance with the UN convention on the rights of the child in the best possible way. Also, it investigates what initiatives and changes it will make for the principles in the convention to be better complied with in Denmark.
- Finally, the need for increased focus on English lessons in the Danish municipal primary and lower secondary school, and the upper secondary school must be investigated.
Source: “Et Danmark der står sammen”. Government platform October 2011 http://stm.dk/publikationer/Et_Danmark_der_staar_sammen_11/index.htm (not in English)