Permanent Residence in Denmark

Permanent Residence in Denmark

Many people want to become residents of Denmark, one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Denmark has a stable economy, a high standard of living, a low crime rate, and, according to some rankings, the highest happiness levels in the world.

If you wish to settle permanently in the Kingdom of Denmark, you need to obtain a permanent residence permit. It is complicated and time-consuming, but manageable. Considering that holders of the Danish permanent resident card have significant rights (except for the right to vote and hold public office) the amount of effort required makes sense.

Who Can Apply for Permanent Residence in Denmark?

You have to meet the following requirements when applying for permanent resident status in Denmark:

  • You must be over the age of 18 at the time of applying.
  • You have to meet the requirements of your current residence permit and physically be in Denmark when the Immigration Service makes the decision on your residence permit application. If for some reason you are outside the country, you have to return to Denmark.
  • You need to have legally resided in Denmark for at least eight uninterrupted years when applying for your permit. “Legally” in this case means that for the entire period you have a residence permit issued under the terms of the Aliens Act, sections 7 to 9 f, sections 9 i to 9 n, section 9 p or section 9 q (residence permit on the basis of family reunification, asylum, studying or work). The section of the Aliens Act that applies to your case is indicated in your current residence permit.
  • You can hold the same residence permit during the required eight-year period, for example, one based on family reunification, or several different types of residence permit, for example, first for work and later for family reunification. At the same time, you cannot combine periods of residence in Denmark on the basis of reunification with different spouses or partners: in order to obtain permanent residence, you have to live in Denmark for eight years with your current spouse or partner. If you remarry after a divorce and receive a new residence permit based on your new relationship, your legal residence period starts over again.
  • If you have a residence permit under the law on temporary residence permits for displaced persons from Ukraine, or for persons who have assisted Danish authorities in Afghanistan, you do not meet the residence requirement, and your residence cannot be included in the required period of eight years of residence.
  • You need to sign a declaration of residence and self-support. This declaration is included in the online application and in the printable application form. You can also find it on the official website of the Ministry of Immigration and Integration (site in Danish only).
  • You have to pass the Danish language test level 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level.
  • You need to have had regular full-time employment for at least three and a half of the previous four years. You do not need to have been employed continuously for three and a half years. You could, for example, have worked full-time for a year, been unemployed for six months, and then have worked full-time again for two years and six months. Regular work means that your employer does not receive public funding, such as wage subsidies, in connection with your employment. Your wage and working conditions must comply with the level set by the collective-bargaining agreement, or otherwise be considered normal for the position.
  • You must be employed at the time the Immigration Service decides on your application for permanent residence.

Copenhagen. Photo: Jakob Søby (Unsplash)

To fulfil the last requirement, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • You must have regular employment. It does not have to be a full-time job but it must be at least 15 hours per week.
  • If you have a temporary job, you need to prove that you will continue to work. For example, an employee working in a temporary position that expires soon can provide a new employment contract or a statement from the employer that the position will be extended.
  • Be self-employed.

You are not considered employed if at the time of processing of your application:

  • you work in a position with wage subsidies;
  • you do unpaid work;
  • you have entered an educational programme, including internships or other forms of work that are a part of the programme;
  • you replace an employee through a temporary employment agency;
  • you work less than 15 hours a week;
  • you work for a company that is in the process of liquidation, has announced a suspension of payments, or has been declared bankrupt;
  • you are self-employed, and your company is in the process of liquidation, has announced a suspension of payments, or has been declared bankrupt.

Copenhagen. Photo: Nick Karvounis (Unsplash)

Who Can Be Denied Danish Permanent Residence?

In some cases, a person may lose the right to apply for permanent residence in Denmark. Depending on the situation, restrictions are imposed for a certain period or indefinitely.

Public debts

Your application for permanent residence will not be accepted if you have the following overdue public debts:

  • Social Service Act or Active Social Policy Act benefits that you are required to repay (such as overpaid social benefits)
  • Child support (must be paid in advance)
  • Day-care payment
  • Overpaid housing benefits
  • Housing subsidy loan
  • Taxes and fees, unless the outstanding amount came into being due to circumstances beyond your control

The creditor (the state or municipality) may grant you a payment grace period, that is, permission to repay the debt after the initial payment due date has expired. In this case, the applicant can apply for permanent residence, but the amount of debt should not exceed 128,082 crowns ($19,200).

If you repay an overdue public debt after you have submitted your application, but before the Immigration Service makes a decision, you need to provide a document proving you no longer have any public debt.

Other debts, such as student loans, bank loans or loans from a building society are not considered public debts and will not affect the decision on your application.

Axel Towers, Copenhagen. Photo: Diego Gennaro (Unsplash)

Prior convictions

If you have served more than six months imprisonment, you are ineligible for a permanent residence permit.

If you were sentenced to less than six months of imprisonment, or if the sentence was suspended, you are temporarily ineligible for a permanent residence permit. The terms of this disqualification may be quite long.

  • Suspended custodial sentence without community service leads to a six-year penalty period when you cannot apply for permanent residence permit.
  • Suspended custodial sentence with community service extends this period to seven years and six months starting from the time the final verdict is given.
  • Mandatory custodial sentence of less than 60 days leads to a 12-year penalty period starting from the time of release.
  • Mandatory custodial sentence of less than 60 days for violations of part 12 (offences against the independence and security of the state) or part 13 (offences against the Constitution and the higher bodies of state authority) of the Danish criminal code leads to an 18-year penalty period starting from the time of release.
  • Mandatory custodial sentence of 60 days to six months leads to a 15-year penalty period starting from the time of release.

A mandatory prison sentence of at least six months leads to being barred completely from getting a permanent residence permit in Denmark. This applies to all types of crimes with the following exceptions:

  • A sentence for working illegally in Denmark in accordance with Section 59 of the Aliens Act leads to a 15-year penalty period if the person does not have a residence permit. For a repeated violation this period extends to 22 years and six months.
  • If a person sentenced for working illegally has a residence permit in Denmark the penalty period for the subsequent violation will be seven years long.
  • A sentence involving placement in psychiatric treatment with possible hospitalisation in accordance with part 68 or part 69 of the Danish criminal code leads to a six-year penalty period starting from the end of this measure. However, at least nine years must pass from the date of the court’s final decision.
  • A sentence involving placement into a hospital leads to a 12-year penalty period starting from the time of termination of the measure. However, at least 15 years must pass from the court’s final verdict.
  • A sentence involving placement in custody leads to a 30-year penalty period starting from the end of this measure.

  Copenhagen, Dinamarca. Photo: Eduardo Casajús Gorostiaga (Unsplash)

Social welfare

You cannot receive certain types of social welfare for four years following your application for a permanent residence permit.

If your spouse or partner has received monetary allowance, this means that you also may have had additional social security during the same period. As a result, your application for permanent residence will be rejected.

Obstructing identification

You have no right to apply for permanent residence if you deliberately obstructed the establishment of your identity in connection with your application for a residence permit or an extension of your residence. For example, if you submitted fake identification documents (passport or birth certificate), or a document belonging to another person, you will not be able to obtain permanent resident status. The same applies to providing incorrect information about your name, date of birth, country of birth, or citizenship (this information is clarified during your application either by yourself or by the immigration authorities).

Additional Requirements for the Applicant

All requirements listed above are mandatory for obtaining a permanent residence permit. In addition, there are four supplementary ones. You need to:

  • Pass the Danish language test level 3 (Prøve i Dansk 2)
  • Have regular full-time employment for four years prior to the date of application
  • Pass the active citizen exam (a test containing 25 questions about Danish democracy, everyday life, culture, and history) or show active citizenship (take part in the work of an organisation which supports fundamental democratic values and legal principles in Danish society)
  • Have an annual taxable income of 309,824 Danish kroner ($46,500) or more for two years prior to the Immigration Service making a decision on your application for a permanent residence permit

Each applicant for permanent resident status must meet at least two of the four additional requirements. If you meet all four of them, it is possible to obtain permanent residence after four years of legal residence in Denmark, and not after eight years, as in most cases.

 Container Boat House. Copenhagen. Photo: Nick Karvounis (Unsplash)

How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Denmark?

If you meet all the requirements listed above, it will be fairly easy to apply for a permanent residence permit. Here is the step-by-step process:

  • Create a case order ID on the website of the Danish Immigration Service or the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI). Choose the type of residence permit you are applying for, enter your personal details (name, surname, email address, etc.), and press “Create case order ID.”
  • Pay the fee of 10,330 Danish kroner ($1550).
  • Collect all the required documents (language test results, confirmation of employment, proof of accommodation, etc.).
  • Fill in a TU1-4 online application.
  • Have your biometrics taken (fingerprints and a photo). This has to be done within four weeks after submission of your application.

An application for a permanent residence permit is usually processed by the Danish Immigration Service within 10 months.

Copenhagen.  Photo: Zeynep Sümer (Unsplash)

In a Nutshell

To become a permanent resident of Denmark, you must legally reside in the country for eight years and meet numerous requirements regarding work, income, knowledge of the Danish language, and law abidance.

Cover photo: Copenhagen. Grzegorz (Pexels)

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