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Denmark: Green Card Law Amended

(May 25, 2016) Denmark has reversed a proposed change to the law that covers the country’s “Green Card Scheme” and will now allow current holders of green cards to apply to have their status extended until June 10, 2018. The revision will come into force on June 10, 2016, and will permit current holders of green cards to apply to renew their status for two years. (Christian W.,  Green Card Law Amended Following Demonstration, CPH POST ONLINE (May 20, 2016).) The purpose of the introduction of the program was to attract foreign professionals to work in the country. (Denmark to Overhaul Green Card Scheme, THE LOCAL (June 27, 2014).) The green card program is included in the Aliens (Consolidated) Act. (Consolidation Act No. 785 (Aug. 10, 2009), art. 9a, DANISH LAW IN ENGLISH  (unofficial translation).)

Green Card Scheme

Denmark’s green card program allows immigrants to obtain residence permits in order to look for and accept work in the country. Once a green card is issued, the individual does not need a separate work permit, and the recipient can work for a salary or do unpaid labor, but cannot run his or her own business in Denmark. The Danish Immigration Service reminds applicants that receiving the card is not a promise of employment; the cardholders must look for jobs. (The Greencard Scheme, NEW TO DENMARK.DK (last updated Apr. 5, 2016).)

Each applicant for a green card is evaluated based on a point system, with applicants needing 100 points to qualify for the card. Points are awarded for educational level, language abilities, and adaptability. Applicants must also show that they can be self-supporting for at least one year, defined as earning at least DKK50,000 (about US$7,540). Those who do not earn at least that amount may lose their residence permits. Residents must also have health insurance for themselves and any family members who reside in Denmark with them, until they are covered by the Danish National Health Insurance. (Id.)

Background

Denmark’s Parliament has for several years been considering various revisions to the green card program due to the problem of professionals coming into the country but not being able to find work in their fields and ending up in menial jobs. According to a study done by the University of Copenhagen, almost 80% of highly educated green card holders either hold unskilled jobs, “work under the table,” or are unemployed. (Denmark to Overhaul Green Card Scheme, supra.)

Recently a number of protests against changing the program have taken place, including a 700-person demonstration in City Hall Square in Copenhagen and a campaign by a number of human rights and immigrant support groups. Aage Kramp, the head of a law firm representing a green card advocacy group, noted that the “various green card and cultural organisations have shown a new ability to work together and organize activities across professional, cultural and religious borders.” Kramp added that the “demonstration became a victory celebration … .” (Christian W., supra.)