COVID-19 and Immigrants in Denmark

Online Petition to demand Dispensation of Income and Work requirements for Denmark Immigrants during Corona Lockdown

Immigrants have started an online petition for Dispensation of Income and Work requirements for Denmark Immigrants during Corona Lockdown

Denmark has one of the strict immigration rules where Immigrants are required to show an annual income and number of hours of work each month (120 hours at least) to extend their visa, apply for Permanent Residency Permit (PR) or Family reunification. One should have earned an annual income of 320,000 kr (Green card Scheme) or 436,000 kr (Pay Limit Scheme) to be eligible for visa extension while should have work full time continuously for 4 years to apply for PR. 

Read more: Danish Govt demand immigrants to show annual income or be ready for deportation despite corona lockdown

In the current global corona pandemic and economic lockdown where thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs, it is now impossible to fulfil these requirements.

Recommendation: We demand to waive the income and work requirements for at least 3 months for visa extension, PR and family reunification applicants otherwise there will be humanitarian crisis as thousands of immigrants might lose the right to stay in Denmark without the fault of their own.

These immigrants otherwise have been working full time and are highly integrated in the Danish society. They will surely be required to boost up the economy once situation gets normal with COVID-19.

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While the public and some political parties in Denmark support these demands, we request the Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Danish Govt, Danish Parliament and EU to intervene before immigrants face another crisis amid COVID-19. 

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The current crisis around Corona virus has on one side caused a huge human and economic lose but on the other side it has united us as human beings as we all are in this together. Denmark surely has suffered a lot but our unity and helping spirit will keep us as a living nation for ever.

Corona virus crisis will affect immigrants even more especially those hourly and salaried employees on temporary visas, green card holders and all those who are going to apply or applied for Permanent Residency (PR) permit or family reunification. These immigrants has to show a required annual income before they can extend their visas to stay in Denmark or apply for Permanent Residency PR. Considering the current crisis it will be almost impossible for many to earn the required annual income.

Immigrants in Denmark e.g. green card holders are required to show an annual income of DKK 317,681 (Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration SIRI calculation) to extend their visa. Similarly, those who have to apply for Permanent Residency permit has to show an annual income of DKK 292,256 (SIRI Calculation 2020 level) and should have a continuous work from last 4 years with 120 hours per month. After the corona virus crisis thousands of employees are fired, many are told to stay home or called for work less than usual. The current situation might last for months. This will surely impact the annual income of these immigrants which will put them on risk of losing their visas or green cards or rejection of their Permanent Residency Permit applications.

The Danish government must come up with legislations regarding this and here are some recommendations which might help immigrants continue their stay in Denmark after the corona virus crisis.

Income Requirement for Visa Extension: The current rules states that for visa (green card) extension an annual income of DKK 317,681 (SIRI calculation) is required. Considering the current crisis, it is almost impossible for many to fulfil this requirement. It is recommended to exempt at least 3 months’ average income from the required annual income which will make the required annual income DKK 238,260. A green card holder (who do not want to be named) who have been working in tourism industry from last 5 years, is told on Monday 16th March to stay home until further notice from employer as there is no work. It will be hard for him to find another job in the current crisis. His visa extension is due in December this year for which he has to show last 12 months’ income. It will be unfair to ask him to show DKK 317,681 annual income. Therefore, considering his situation and hundreds more, it is recommended that the income requirement for visa extension is reduced to DKK 238,269 for all those who have either been laid off or told to stay home or called to work less than usual.

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The graph shows the number of newly registered unemployed from March 9 to March 24 in each of the years 2015-2020.
Source: The Board of Labor Market and Recruitment

Income Requirement for Permanent Residency applicants: The current rules states that one should have an annual income of DKK 292,256 in the last 2 years before applying for Permanent Residency permit. Someone might have fulfilled all other requirements of work, language and active citizen exam but because of the current coronavirus crisis he/she will not be able to fulfil the income requirement for which they have to wait for another year before they can apply for PR. Therefore, we would like to recommend that the income requirement of the last one year before applying for PR should be reduced to DKK 219,192 this will give 3 months’ relaxation to all the potential applicants. Work Requirement for Permanent Residency applicants: The current rules states that one has to work at least 120 hours per month for last 4 years before you can apply for PR under 4 years’ rules and 3 and half years work under 8 years’ rules. Considering the current situation, hundreds of immigrants might not fulfil this requirement therefore, it is recommended that at least 3 months starting from March 2020 should be exempt from this rule of 120 hours work per month.

MAP: The Danish regions most affected by coronavirus

Continuous Work: The current rules also state that if someone has submitted a PR application so he/she should fulfil the continuous work requirement which means one should be working even though if he/she has submitted their PR application. Considering the current situation, many have lost their jobs which will risk their PR application rejection. For example, an immigrant (who do not want to be named) who has been working with an ice cream factory in Denmark from last 4 years lost his job on Monday, 16th March 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis. He has applied for PR 6 months ago. He is expecting his application decision in next 3 months. Under the current rules, his PR application will be rejected only because he would not fulfil the current work requirement despite the fact that he has fulfilled all other requirements from last 4 years. Therefore, if these 3 months are exempted from the work requirement so not only him but hundreds more who have been the victim of corona virus crisis will have a fair chance for a better life.

Report by Naqeeb Khan