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16 March 2022

New Danish law for those fleeing Ukraine mirrors EU Temporary Protection Directive

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Due to its EU opt-out on legal issues, Denmark is not bound by the recently activated EU Temporary Protection Directive. Instead, the Danish government has introduced a special law that strongly resembles the directive and will enter into force on 18 March 2022.

The law grants residence permits to the following groups:

  1. Ukrainian citizens living in Ukraine before and until 24 February 2022
  2. Refugees with a residence permit in Ukraine (not students or workers)
  3. Ukrainian citizens living in Denmark on 24 February
  4. Spouses/partners of the above
  5. Children of the above
  6. Close family members of the above who were part of the same household before and until 24 February
  7. Those who established a family life in joint residence with the above before and until 24 February

Those that fall into categories 1-3 must apply for residence from within Denmark. Those belonging to categories 4-7 can apply either from Denmark or from abroad.

The special law provides:

  • residence until 17 March 2024, with the possibility of a one-year extension only (in order to stay longer it would be necessary to apply for asylum, or for a residence permit on other grounds);
  • the right to work, school, vocational education and integrational education (IGU), and access to health services;
  • the right to social benefits;
  • access to the national integration programme (including free language and employment skills training);
  • temporary accommodation in a municipality, four days after obtaining a residence permit.

Applications for residence permits can be submitted online. No personal interviews will be held if the case can be documented in writing.

Compared with refugees from other countries, under this special law Ukrainians will benefit froma fast procedure and no personal assessments besides nationality. They are also protected from the possibility of having their permits revoked, as has recently happened to Syrian refugees in Denmark. On the other hand, other refugees can have their permits extended and do have free access to higher education.

NGOs such as Amnesty International, Action Aid Denmark and Refugees Welcome have criticised the special law for favouring Ukranian refugees over other refugees, who still have to wait years for their claims be processed and must pass through very restrictive assessment procedures. Further, integration expenses for Ukrainians will be covered by the state budget for development aid, which has been strongly criticized by 16 NGOs.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 10 000 Ukrainians were living in Denmark. They were mainly there via work permits and employed in unskilled, low-paid jobs such as farming. Danish union 3F has been warning that newly arrived Ukrainians must have any subsequent employment secured by fair contracts and labour market agreements. Further details can be found here.


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Posted by
Michala Clante Bendixen
Country Coordinator

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