Why an American expat Katie Larsen decided to leave Denmark after the current Corona crisis

Katie Larsen while presenting her seaweed project at KEA Denmark

A Biobased Designer and Architectural Technologist, graduate of KEA Denmark, Katie Larsen came to Denmark in 2015 from the States. She is now married to a Dane and living in Slagelse, a town outside Copenhagen. She has represented Denmark at Dutch Design Week 2019, with a project rooted in Danish history and culture, at a conference for the world’s best design graduates. Katia Larsen has been active and campaigned for rational and humane immigration laws and met parliament members. She has campaigned to make Danish language classes affordable and count education as full time work.

Read more: ‘‘Unreasonable and sad’: Moumen has lost his job but risks his residence permit if he gets help DR North Jutland

She lost her job after corona crisis hit Denmark. Since she is under family reunification law in Denmark, she is not allowed to take any social benefits rather provide a security for DKK 100,000 as a financial collateral.

I was two months away from completing my mandatory integration contract with Slagelse Kommune, a contract that required me to work for at least a year to prove my “self-sufficiency”. But then I lost my job due to corona crisis and now my any hope of applying for permanent residence in the next 4 years has also been ruined, as the “fast-track scheme” requires 4 year uninterrupted work, says Katie.

Katia Larsen (2nd from left) with Danish Parliament Member Rosa Lund (in the middle) and
Naqeeb Khan (2nd from right) at Danish Parliament.

Read more: Corona crisis lengthens the job queue: The number of new vacant rounds is 40,000

Katie did not signed up for A-Kasse, an unemployment insurance because of the law passed in 2019 which required workers to have lived in Denmark for last 7 out of 12 years. Katie says, I expected I would be ineligible for A-kasse until at least 2025 so I never signed up for it. Though this law was abolished in January 2020, but now under the current corona crisis, one can only claim unemployment as a foreign worker if you terminated your previous membership due to the law change.

Katia will be unemployed from April end, without real source of income and an uncertain future. As she could not continue to fulfil income and work requirements after the corona crisis means that she has to wait for at least another 4 years to apply for Permanent Residency in Denmark. Thus she along her Dane husband has finally reached to a decision to leave Denmark. She has decided to return to Denmark after few years under the EU Laws.

Read more: Denmark migrant workers face another battle amid COVID-19 with mandatory work despite economic lockdown and fear of corona infection

When I come back, I’ll be able to live with my Danish husband under EU family reunification, rather than relive the humiliating, invasive, and expensive life under Danish family reunification laws. I’ll be eligible for permanent residence after five years in Denmark even if I lose my job or study, Katia says. I am lucky that I managed to get acceptance into Delft University of Technology Holland architecture master program and moving there along my husband, otherwise there are hundreds who have lost their jobs in current crisis but still have no other option but to live up tight under the strict rules in Denmark.

I hope that the government will wake up soon, and provide some form of relief for these people that have chosen to call this country home at least during this worldwide pandemic. So for me it’s Holland now and I’m working on wrapping up my activities in Denmark for the next four months- and moving all my seaweed research says Katie Larsen.

Report by Naqeeb Khan

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