The government has reached an agreement with the center-right Venstre Party, the Conservative People’s Party, and the Liberal Alliance to tighten the requirements to obtain Danish citizenship. In the future, prison convicts will no longer be able to obtain Danish citizenship.
“Among the immigrants, there are some who do well, and then there are some who do poorly. We want to be sure that those who get Danish citizenship have become well-established in Danish society and have embraced Denmark — also the Danish values,“ said Minister of Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye.
The new agreement means, among other things, that it will no longer be possible for people with a conditional as well as an unconditional prison sentence to become Danish citizens, according to Danish news network DR.
“It should not be the case that as a foreigner you can come to Denmark, commit a serious crime, and then be rewarded with citizenship afterward,“ explained Morten Dahlin, who is the indigenous rights spokesman for the Venstre Party.
“For us, it is important that we send a signal to those who have not yet committed a crime and make it clear that it has quite severe consequences if you commit such a serious crime that you get a conditional or unconditional prison sentence,” stated Tesfaye.
In the same way, the agreement also blocks individuals from obtaining citizenship for a period of six years if they have been fined more than DKK 3,000 (€403) for committing social benefits fraud, which is just one of a number of offenses that could potentially affect an immigrant’s citizenship application.
The political parties involved in the new law have also agreed that the applicant must be employed for 3.5 of the last four years to apply for the Danish passport.
Questions about Danish values
When applying for Danish citizenship, migrants must pass a citizenship test. In the future, that test must contain five questions about Danish values.
“These must be factual questions. It could be, for example: What was the Muhammad crisis about? It could also be about whether it’s okay as a parent to deny your daughter to be in a relationship with someone. Or if you can demand that there be no male lifeguards or swimming instructors present if your daughter is going for a swim. It will be value-laden questions where we ask people to determine whether they have understood what values this society is based on,“ commented Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration Mattias Tesfaye.
To get Danish citizenship, the person must be able to answer at least four of the five questions correctly. The text of the agreement mentions topics for the value issues directly. For example, it could be about freedom of speech, equality, or the relationship between religion and law.
In addition, applicants must have no public debt and must participate in a constitutional ceremony. During the ceremony, the applicant must shake the hand of a popularly elected politician, such as a councilor or a mayor.
No ceiling on the number of new nationals
The Conservatives would have liked to have seen the government also agree to set a limit on how many people could be granted citizenship each year to persons outside the EU.
“We are sincerely concerned about the large group of refugees who came here in the refugee crisis around 2015, and that at some point they can apply for Danish citizenship. We believe that they should return to countries like Syria and that they should not have a Danish passport,“ said Marcus Knuth from the Conservative Party.
However, the party has agreed that a possible ceiling can be discussed politically if there is a larger increase in the number of people who apply for citizenship.
The requirements to obtain citizenship were most recently tightened in the summer of 2018. Back then, the constitutional ceremonies were agreed and the requirements for self-sufficiency were sharpened.
Title image: A group of migrants cross snow covered road in northern Macedonia, near the border with Serbia, on their way north to more prosperous European Union countries, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Denmark and Sweden tightened their borders on Monday in efforts to stem the flow of migrants entering Scandinavia from Germany. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)