Denmark’s ‘Asylpakke’ law includes the following major changes:
- eligibility for family reunification for refugees only after 3 years
- restricted conditions for permanent residence
- partial seizure of asylum-seekers’ assets to cover costs of national assistance
On January 26th, the Danish Parliament approved a package of laws that drastically changes the conditions of access to Denmark for asylum seekers.
One of the most serious provisions under the new legislation provides that asylum seekers, after obtaining refugees status, must wait three years, instead of one as earlier, before they can apply for a permit to bring their families to Denmark. The rule could potentially strand spouses and children of accepted refugees, in refugee camps or in war zones. Refugees will also have to cover the travel costs of their families to Denmark in case of family reunification.
Amnesty International claim that the postponement of family reunification could pose a risk of violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees the right to family life.
Also among the changes, residence permits for asylum seekers who face persecution in their country of origin, were shortened from five to two years. Applications for a permanent residence permit will now cost approximately 500 EURO.
Refugees will be expected to contribute with their own resources – cash, valuables, including gold and jewellery that have no sentimental value to the owner, exceeding 10,000 kroner (approx. 1,340 EURO) – to their stay in Denmark. Local authorities justified the decision by saying that refugees will bear the same requirements Danish citizens have to bear to access welfare benefits. However, Danish nationals are not subject to the same type of personal search and seizure of possessions by police, as the refugees.
The legislation drew protests from human rights organisations and condemnation both nationally and internationally.
In 2015, nearly 21,000 people applied for asylum in Denmark. The top nationalities are Syrian, Eritrean, Afghan.
Where to get assistance and more information about asylum rights in Denmark:
- Legal counselling and assistance to asylum seekers: +45 50558011 (Refugees Welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Counselling service on the phone: +45 33 73 50 00 (Danish Refugee Council, email@example.com)
- Classes and activities, legal counseling, support: +45 32 20 02 25 (Trampoline house: firstname.lastname@example.org)