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October 4, 2023
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Denmark makes work permit, residency easier for foreign workers, startup founders, students

Key highlights

  • Denmark loses immigration rules in order to attract international talent to meet its skills shortage
  • These amendments were approved by parliament on March 23 and will take effect on April 1.
  • The country is making it easier for companies to hire non-EU workers by lowering minimum wage requirements, expanding its work permit fast-track scheme, and opening up more jobs to foreigners.
  • The country is also allowing startup founders to open a branch of their company in Denmark and non -EU students now have an extended job search period.

Denmark is the latest country to loosen its immigration rules in a bid to attract international talent.

Labor shortages across the continent are making it easier for non-EU workers to find work.

The country is making it easier for companies to hire non-EU workers by lowering minimum wage requirements, expanding its work permit fast-track scheme, and opening up more jobs to foreigners. It is also giving foreign students studying in the country an extended job search period after finishing their university degree.

These amendments to the Danish Aliens Act, have been approved by parliament on March 23 and will take effect on April 1.

More labor shortage skills that can provide work permits

Denmark, like many other countries in Europe, is experiencing a labor shortage. According to the European Commission, 42% of Danish companies reported recruitment challenges in the first three months of 2022.

Denmark updated its ‘Positive List for People with a Higher Education’ and ‘Positive List for Skilled Workers’ on January 1, detailing professions with a labor shortage in the country.

Hence, now a non-EU national can apply for a Danish residence and work permit if offered a job on one of these lists.

The country is especially short of degree-level science, engineering, healthcare, teaching, information technology, and finance professionals.

To apply for residence with a job on this list, you must provide proof of your educational qualifications. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is usually required.

The list of Skilled Workers primarily includes professionals and clerks in science and engineering, business and administration, bookkeeping, and social care. It also includes skilled trades in metalworks, machinery, and construction which can enable one to apply for a Danish residence and work permit.

While the list is updated twice a year, under the new rules, job roles will remain on the list for two years rather than six months.

Denmark is also making it easier for companies to hire third-country nationals by expanding the list of job titles that foreigners can apply for.

Also, the pay threshold will be lowered, making more jobs available to foreign nationals.

This means that foreign nationals earning at least DKK 375,000 (€50,344) will be able to apply for work and residence permits under the new limit.

Employers can easily get certified to recruit foreigners

Companies in Denmark who want to hire foreign workers can apply for a fast-track certification. This allows them to process work permits more quickly and offer more flexible terms to employees.

Currently, companies need to have 20 or more full-time employees before they can apply for a certification that allows them to employ foreign workers.

With the new amendment, this will be reduced to 10 employees, allowing more businesses to participate in the scheme.

Non-EU startup founders can open a branch in Denmark

Denmark is also expanding its start-up program for foreign nationals. Currently, it is only available to entrepreneurs looking to start a new business in the country.

It will be extended from April 1 to those who already own a business in Denmark as well as those who own a business outside of the country and want to open a branch in Denmark.

International students will have a longer job search period

International students studying at Danish universities will also be encouraged to stay after graduation. Following graduation, they will be given a three-year job search period.

During this time, they will be able to work and live in the country without the need to apply for a separate residence permit.

Currently, new graduates can only stay for two years.

What this means for Nigerians

Denmark is the latest European country with amendments to its immigration laws that makes it very attractive for Nigerian students, professionals, and entrepreneurs who make up the categories of individuals likely to migrate for opportunities.

These amendments are in line with calls for EU member states to expand on existing initiatives for attracting foreign talent to replicate best practices on social inclusion and retention in the context of global competition for international talent.

Enhancing the integration and social inclusion of migrants meets key European objectives of equality and social cohesion, which are essential for a dynamic economy that benefits all.

As most Nigerians seek opportunities to enhance their professional life, these amendments will further reinforce that drive.

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