New Danish Reunification Bill will Make It Harder for Foreign Spouses to Attain Citizenship

By: Madi Bolanos, Ea Schausen, Victoria Reis

The Danish Parliament recently proposed changes to the asylum and immigration law that will make it harder for foreigners to get family reunification. The proposal in the Danish Aliens Act requires six new demands (at least four of them must be fulfilled) to get the government’s permission to bring a family member to Denmark.  

“This is just one more bill that is tightening the knots and making it increasingly difficult to have their family come from other countries,” says Claus Juul, Amnesty International’s legal consultant. Also, Juul points out an issue left aside by the Danish government: 

You must distinguish between refugees and immigrants. If you are a refugee and need residence in Denmark, they should be entitled to have their families here without meeting any of the requirements because they can’t choose to go back and settle somewhere else. Refugees don’t have a choice. If you are a migrant, as a society Denmark would have a fair and reasonable demand that you show some will in actually taking part in their society.” 


Six News Demands 

The first demand must be met no matter what and implies the Danish residence pass a Danish 1 test. The questions are specifically about Danish History but even when Danish citizens would have a problem getting 30 of 42 correct answers.  

The second demand requires the Danish Resident to have a job for at least 5 years in Denmark. “Anyone can lose a job in four years. This is such a long period of time. Due to a number of changes anyone can be out of job for any reason” stated Claus Juul.  

The third demand requires the Danish Resident to have at least five years of education in Denmark. 

The others three demands are directed for the foreign spouses, requiring them to pass a Danish language or English language test (demand #4). 

It also requires the spouse have a job for at least three out of the last five years (demand #5) and to have attendant some education equivalent to a Danish vocational or higher education school  (demand #6).  



This is not the first time the Danish government has aimed to make it more difficult for foreigner to attempt to live in Denmark.  

The Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks made a public statement in 2016 after the one-year rule waiting time for refugees was extended to three years. The one year rule required refugee families seeking reunification wait 365 days before applying for reunification. 

 The commissioner warned the Danish polity to be wary of violating international legal standards according to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  

 The article states that “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”. 

 Besides the international and national pressure, the three-year waiting time rule was not abandoned. Nowadays, the refugees need to wait at least three years before applying for family reunification.  

 Some further restrictions are the reduction to the length of temporary residence permits, the introduction of fees for family reunification application (around 900 euros per application), on eligibility requirements for permanent residences and a recent policy that would allow immigration officers to take valuables from asylum seekers to help pay for their stay in Denmark.  

This article was written for an American Audience.  


Madi Bolanos and Ea Schausen interviewer Claus Juul from Amnesty International.