Denmark ushers in new dual citizenship law on 1 Sept 2015

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TENTH UPDATE (29 November 2016): The proposed Finanslov includes further restrictions on gaining permanent residency in Denmark for non-EU citizens. If approved (which is likely to happen in January 2017) the law will require immigrants who wish to gain permaenent residency in Denmark to have lived here for at least 8 years – rather than the current 6 – as well as a few other items. Welcome to Denmark! You can read more here.

NINTH UPDATE (27 January 2016): Yesterday Parliament passed stricter requirements for obtaining Permanent Residency in Denmark. (This is the precursor to Danish citizenship.) This was part of the notorious package that also included confiscation of valuables from refugees, requiring refugees to wait three years before applying for family reunification, etc. This change affects everyone, though – not just refugees. Here are the updated rules:

Applicants must
  • have lived in Denmark at least 6 years
  • pass Prøve i Dansk 2 (Danish 2)
  • not have served a prison sentence of one (1) year or more. Individuals convicted of a less serious crime have to wait for a specified period of time to become eligible to apply after serving their sentence. These waiting periods will be prolonged by fifty (50) percent.
  • have been employed full time for 2.5 of the past 3 years. Part-time work and studies no longer count toward the ‘occupation requirement.’
  • have fulfilled two of the following four supplementary conditions:
    • displayed ‘active citizenship’ by participating in civic organizations or passed a 25-question citizenship test
    • held steady employment for four of the past 4.5 years
    • have earned an annual average salary of 270,000 kroner for the two years prior to application
    • passed Prøve i Dansk 3 (Danish 3) exam

If the applicant has fulfilled all four of the supplementary conditions, they may apply for permanent residency after four years. The cost of applying for permanent residency is DKK 5,525 as of 2016 (visit this page and scroll down, almost to the bottom.) See here for an article in English and here for the text of the law in Danish (section 3 is on permanent residency.)

EIGHTH UPDATE (05 October 2015): Parliament has passed stricter requirements for obtaining Danish citizenship. These include passing Prøve i Dansk 3 (instead of 2) – see my post on this test here and here; a more difficult citizenship exam (and higher passing mark); and proving that one has been self-sufficient for the last 4.5 out of 5 years. Read more here (English), here (Danish), and here (Danish.)

SEVENTH UPDATE (23 September 2015): The Integration Minister, Inger Støjberg, has evidently made a proposal in the form of a ’44-page Circular Letter on Naturalisation’ to change the rules, which would mean reprocessing all applications made for Danish citizenship in the last 14 months. Click here and here for more info.

SIXTH UPDATE: Despite the dual citizenship law now in effect, it appears the current government wishes to make it harder to actually get Danish citizenship. See this article and this one.

FIFTH UPDATE: The dual citizenship law is now in effect. Please read more about it here.

FOURTH UPDATE: The dual citizenship law was officially passed in the Danish Parliament Thursday, 18 December 2014. With a vote of 89-19, the act passed with flying colours (minus the support of the Danish People’s Party and the Conservatives). Here is an article about it (in English) in The Local on the day it was passed. The law will go into effect on 1 September, 2015. For more information from the Ministry of Justice about multiple nationality, click here (in English); for official government guidance about applying for Danish citizenship, click here. Information about the Danish citizenship test (given twice a year) can be found here.

THIRD UPDATE: The Danish Parliament will hold the second debate on the dual citizenship law on 16 December and the third and final debate AND VOTE during their session on 18 December. It is on the daily agenda for that day, as you can see here. Support for the law is high, so it looks like Christmas will be coming a week early for a lot of people who have been waiting for this!

SECOND UPDATE: The following information was posted to the Americans in Denmark Facebook group page on 16 November, 2014: This past week the law allowing dual citizenship for those who become a Danish citizen was mentioned from the podium in the folketing (Parliament). That was treatment No.1 of the law. Treatment No.2 will be a debate of the law, which will take place soon and the final vote to pass the law will take place before the end of the year. I have this info from my contact in the folketing and since he is a folketing politician who has pushed for and will vote for the law I trust the info.

Indeed, I looked for the discussion in the Folketing’s Dagsorden and found it on their 13 November 2014 agenda. Here is a link (in Danish). So the law is on the agenda – they are recommending that it come into force in September 2015. Let’s see how things go!

By the way, you can test your ability to pass the citizenship test online. Here is a story in The Local about it, with a link to a mock exam based on a previous one…

UPDATE: Yesterday, 4 June 2014, the Danish government signed a broad political agreement with the Left (Venstre), the Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti), Enhedslisten and Liberal Alliance parties to accept dual citizenship for both foreigners living in Denmark and Danes living abroad. The parties agree that there should be a transitional period for former Danish citizens who lost their Danish citizenship when obtaining foreign citizenship. This autumn the government will, in light of the agreement, forward a legislative proposal to amend the rules on dual citizenship. The changes are expected to come into force in the summer of 2015. (I received the information for this update from the Ministry of Justice’s website.)

[Original article’s start] The subject of dual citizenship recently made its way onto my radar. I had not given it much thought before as I have never lived long enough in another country (including this one) to qualify for citizenship there and my daughters are fortunate to have parents from two countries – Germany and the US – that allow it (at least to some extent; see below). However, I learned last month that immigrants to Denmark and Danes living abroad are not afforded the same privilege. The possibility of dual citizenship is severely restricted in Denmark – but this seems set to change soon.

Dual citizenship is a topic of interest not only to immigrants to Denmark who wish to seek citizenship here but also to Danes living outside the country. Citizenship grants automatic rights, such as the right to vote[1], entitlement to certain social programs, such as education and other benefits, and the right to own property[2], and can contribute to a sense of belonging. However, because Denmark generally does not permit dual citizenship, those who come here have to choose whether to hold onto the citizenship they came with or renounce it for Danish citizenship; likewise, Danes who leave must choose to be citizens of their new country or maintain Danish citizenship.

Dual citizenship is a complex topic – it is not at all cut-and-dried. What one country allows in the name of dual citizenship does not necessarily match what another permits. For example, while the German government allows babies born to one German parent and one non-German parent to have dual citizenship their entire lives, it does not allow a child born in Germany to two non-German parents (who must fulfill certain criteria) to maintain dual citizenship past the age of 23. In contrast, a baby born in the US is automatically granted US citizenship as well as the citizenship of the parents with no limitations on the former; the same is true in Canada.

In Denmark a child born to parents who are married and one of whom is Danish may have dual citizenship but must apply before his/her 22nd birthday to maintain Danish citizenship. According to Tina Thuesen, a representative of www.statsborger.dk whom I emailed for current information on this topic, 40% of immigrants who come to Denmark and apply for Danish citizenship through naturalization are also allowed to have dual citizenship but only because they come from countries where giving up one’s citizenship is impossible or nearly impossible. This has been a sore point for new Danes (who had to give up their citizenship of birth) and Danes living abroad.

‘As global emigration increases, and as national boundaries are becoming more and more porous, the trend in liberal democracies is to accept dual (and in some cases even multiple) citizenship[3].’ However, Denmark has maintained its controls on dual citizenship even as other countries have passed laws abandoning their restrictions. Sweden did so in 2001, Finland and Iceland in 2003, and Belgium in 2008, to name a few. But in 2011, the newly elected Danish government pledged to change this and set up a working group in December 2012 to study the matter. That working group released a report on 14 March 2014 that outlined three possible dual citizenship models:

1) full dual nationality for Danes no longer living Denmark and immigrants to Denmark;
2) dual nationality in relation to other EU/EEA countries, Switzerland, other Nordic countries, other NATO countries, and countries with which Denmark has signed an international agreement;
3) dual nationality for Danish nationals who acquire citizenship abroad, but not for foreign nationals who acquire citizenship in Denmark.

The recommendation offered by the Ministry of Justice is for the first model. According to an article in Politikken published the day the report became public, Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup (Social Democrat) told reporters on the day the report was released, ‘I believe that it’s time to give Danes who settle down abroad the possibility to gain citizenship there while maintaining their Danish citizenship. I think that will really help a lot of Danes who emigrate. Of course, this [change to the law] will also apply to people who come here. But we will not change the requirements for Danish citizenship; rather, we will give people the opportunity to have citizenship in two different places’ (Hækkerup: Tiden er moden til dobbelt statsborgerskab).

The Venstre Party, which was once against lifting restrictions on dual citizenship, has had a recent change of heart. The Copenhagen Post reported last spring that Venstre MP Jan E. Jørgensen claimed ‘a common argument against dual citizenship is that a man cannot love two women at the same time, so how could he possibly love two countries?’ However, they now support a change to the law (see this article by the same news source). With all parties but the Danish People’s Party now on board, a law allowing dual citizenship for Danes and in Denmark seems likely to pass in the near future. What ‘in the near future’ means exactly is unclear but a final proposal, which requires extensive hearings, may be ready for a Parliamentary vote as soon as October 2014 and, according to Thuesen, implementation of the altered law in summer 2015. The negotiations will also include making arrangements for Danes who have given up their Danish citizenship to reclaim that citizenship.

See also:

[1] Only Danish citizens living in Denmark are permitted to vote, according to the Danish Constitution (Grundloven).

[2] Non-Danes who live in Denmark may buy property if they fulfill certain criteria; these differ for EU/EEA country citizens and non-EU/EEA citizens (see the bottom of Expatindenmark’s web page on this topic). Please note that you can only buy property in Denmark AND live abroad if you are Danish.

[3] Dellinger, Marianne. “Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark: Deprivation of Democratic Rights by Nation States Not Recognizable Dual Citizenship.” Journal of Transnational Law & Policy 20 (2010): 43.

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9 thoughts on “Denmark ushers in new dual citizenship law on 1 Sept 2015

    […] are expected to come into force in the summer of 2015. (See my previous post on dual citizenship here. I received the information for this update from the Ministry of Justice’s […]

    Update on dual citizenship « Life in Aalborg said:
    November 20, 2014 at 9:56 am

    […] have been monitoring the situation with dual citizenship in Denmark. A friend pointed me to a discussion on the Americans in Denmark Part 2 group page that appeared on […]

    […] care you missed my update post yesterday, I have been monitoring the situation with dual citizenship in Denmark. A friend pointed me to a discussion on the Americans in Denmark Part 2 group page that appeared on […]

    […] The Danish Parliament will hold the second debate on the dual citizenship law on 16 December and the third and final debate AND VOTE during their session on 18 December. It is on the daily agenda for that day, as you can see here. Support for the law is high, so it looks like Christmas will be coming a week early for a lot of people who have been waiting for this! (See my original post on the subject here.) […]

    And it’s official… « Life in Aalborg said:
    December 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    […] The dual citizenship law was officially passed in the Danish Parliament today. With a vote of 89-19, the act passed with flying colours (minus the support of the Danish People’s Party and the Conservatives). Here is an article about it (in English) in today’s Local. The law will go into effect on 1 September, 2015. You can read about the development of this historic moment in my post on the subject. […]

    […] The dual citizenship law was officially passed in the Danish Parliament yesterday. With a vote of 89-19, the act passed with flying colours (minus the support of the Danish People’s Party and the Conservatives). Here is an article about it (in English) in yesterday’s Local and another in the Copenhagen Post. The law will go into effect on 1 September, 2015. You can read about the development of this historic vote in my post on the subject. […]

    sarahinjylland responded:
    September 2, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Reblogged this on Life in Aalborg and commented:

    And it’s official…Dual citizenship now possible in Denmark

    […] passage of the controversial bill concerning immigration and refuge in Denmark (see my updated post on this), the landscape turning from white to green, a new font for my blog (an observant reader […]

    […] passage of the controversial bill concerning immigration and refuge in Denmark (see my updated post on this), the landscape turning from white to green, a new font for my blog (an observant reader […]

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