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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

As Denmark is both a member of the European Union (EU) and the Nordic Council, differing immigration rules will apply to foreign workers coming to Denmark, depending on their nationality. Foreign workers from non-EU / EEA and non-Scandinavian countries are generally required to hold a residence and / or work permit before entering Denmark. Work permits are generally issued on the basis of an individual’s qualifications and sometimes, Danish labour market considerations. The Danish government has several schemes in place to allow highly-skilled professionals to obtain residence and work permits in Denmark quickly and easily.

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Foreign nationals who are not residents of non- Nordic, EU or EEA countries) are required to obtain a residence and work permit before entering Denmark. Applications are granted based on a combination of factors, namely the applicant’s qualifications and the type of work that will be performed. Work permits are usually not granted for unskilled positions.

Regardless of the circumstances, the applicant is still required to submit a written job contract or offer specifying his or her salary and corresponding employment conditions. These documents must be prepared in accordance with Danish employment regulations and standards. All applications must be lodged with the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment or to the Danish embassy or consulate in the area in which the individual has resided for the last six months, depending on the type of work and residence permit for which the individual is applying.

There are several schemes that the Danish government has put in place for companies to employ highly qualified professionals to obtain residence and a work permit in Denmark.

1. The Positive List

The Positive List is a list of professions where there is currently a skills shortage in Denmark. Examples include engineers, doctors and medical consultants, auditors etc. See the full list here.

Applicants must meet the minimum educational requirements stated in the list before being eligible to apply under this scheme.

Duration of permit: 4 years (for an indefinite job contract). Extensions are permitted.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.

2. The Pay Limit Scheme 

The Pay Limit scheme is designed for high-income individuals earning annual salaries above a specific threshold. The current minimum threshold is DKK 375,000. Individuals under this scheme have to meet this annual income requirement, inclusive of any unpaid holidays. Any holiday pay earned in the course of one income year but will be paid out the following year cannot be included in the calculation of the annual pay of the first income year.

Duration of permit: 4 years (for an indefinite job contract). Extensions are permitted.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.

3. Fast-track scheme

Certain companies certified with the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment may be able to bring in highly skilled employees under the Fast-track scheme. The scheme is intended for larger companies needing to recruit highly qualified foreign employees on an urgent basis. It encompasses both private and public companies, including universities.

Companies need to meet the following conditions to be certified:

  • The company must pay the correct fee
  • In general, salary and employment conditions at the Danish company must correspond to Danish standards. If the company is not party to a collective bargaining agreement, the company must declare that it meets this condition
  • The Danish company must have at least 20 full-time employees
  • The company must not be involved in a legal labour dispute
  • At the time of certification the company must not have serious issues with the Danish Working Environment Authority (the company must not have been issued a red smiley by the Danish Working Environment Authority)
  • Within the past 2 years, the company must not have been convicted repeatedly or been subject to a fine of at least DKK 20,000 under the Danish Aliens Act
  • The company must participate in a guidance meeting at the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment

To read more about certification requirements, click here.

The Fast-track scheme is divided into four tracks. The foreign national can apply under the scheme if he or she has been offered a job by a certified company and the job offered meets one of the following criteria:

1) The foreign national is employed according to the conditions in the Pay Limit scheme

2) The foreign national is employed as a researcher

Please note that guest researchers and PhD students are not included in the Fast-track scheme but are covered under a separate permit (covered below). 

3) The purpose of the employment is a high level educational stay

If the foreign national is highly qualified and has significant professional experience within a particular field of work, he or she can be included in the Fast-track scheme if the purpose of his or her stay in Denmark is to receive highly qualified training within the certified company, or to train, at a highly qualified level, other employees of the certified company.

Trainees are not included in a high level educational stay under the Fast-track scheme.

4) The employment is for a short term stay

If the foreign national does not belong to one of the groups who can work in Denmark without a residence and work permit, the Fast-track scheme gives him or her the possibility to reside in Denmark for up to three months without specific conditions being applied to the foreign national’s employment. However, the residence permit is conditional upon the salary and terms of employment corresponding to Danish standards.

Duration of permit: Up to 4 years (for an indefinite job contract), unless the application is for a short term stay of up to three months. In this case, a residence permit can be granted for one short term stay of maximum three months within the period of one year. A residence and work permit for a short term stay cannot be extended and the three months cannot be divided into several stays. An application must be submitted for each short term stay in Denmark and the three months will be calculated from the date of entry into Denmark. A residence permit will expire 14 days after the end date of the employment contract. However, the permit period cannot exceed four years – or three months in case of a short term stay.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.

Extensions are available except in the case of short term stays.

The application process

Step 1:  Create a Case ID

Before submitting an application, a Case ID must be created. A processing fee must also be paid. The fee will not be refunded if your application is processed – regardless of whether the application is successful or not. Similarly, the fee will not be refunded if the application is withdrawn. Please note that fees paid incorrectly may result in delays. It is also important that the applicant hold a valid passport as the residence permit can only be granted or extended up to three months before the applicant’s passport expires.

Step 2: Biometric recording

When applying for residency or a work permit, please note that the applicant’s biometric features (facial image and fingerprints) will be recorded and stored on a chip on your residence card. Failure to have the applicant’s biometric features recorded will result in the application being rejected. This means that the application will not be processed. The procedure varies depending on where and how the individual applies.

3. Submission of application

Applications may be submitted either digitally or in person. However, it is highly recommended that digital applications are submitted due to ease and speed of processing. In-person applications may be made at a Danish diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate general) or an outsourcing agency which receives applications on behalf of a Danish diplomatic mission.

The documentation requirements may vary by embassy. However, generally the following is required:

1. Completed application form completed and signed along with supporting documents

2. Valid original passport and a color copy of the passport (the data page and all pages with stamps). Passport must be valid at least 3 months beyond the expiration date of the permit applied for.

Step 3: Case Order ID and receipt of payment to the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment.

Step 4: Decision 

Applications from outside Denmark by post or email or by submitting a digital application, the decision will be sent to the diplomatic mission in the country of origins or country of residence. If the application was submitted in person to a diplomatic mission or an outsourcing bureau, the decision will be sent to the diplomatic mission. The diplomatic mission will send the decision to the nominated address, or the applicant will be asked to pick it up in person at the diplomatic mission.

If the application was made in Denmark, the decision will be sent to your address in Denmark or to your attorney.

For more information on the application process, please go here.

Processing times

Case type: Maximum processing time (fully completed application):
The Positive List 1 month
The Pay Limit scheme 1 month
Researchers 1 month
PhDs 1 month
Establishment card 1 month
Athletes and coaches 1 month
The Corporate scheme 1 month
The Greencard scheme 3 months
Other employees 1 month
Students 2 months
Au pairs 3 months
Interns 2 months
Accompanying family members (in the area of work and studies) 2 months
Volunteers 3 months
Working Holiday 3 months
Extension of residence permit 3 months

 

Fees

A comprehensive list of fees charged (Accurate as of 2015):

Positive List, Pay Limit scheme, athletes, trainees and the Corporate scheme DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Fast-track scheme (NEW) DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Certification of company (NEW) DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Greencard scheme DKK 6,850
(Euro 919)
Greencard, dispensation from lapse(NEW) DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Other schemes for highly qualified professionals DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Study cases DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
PhD (NEW) DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Researchers and guest researchers DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Start-up Denmark (self-employment) (NEW) DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Establishment card for students with a Danish exam (NEW) DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Au pairs and interns DKK 2,400
(Euro 322)
Accompanying family members of employees, self-employed persons, researchers, greencard and students DKK 1,600
(Euro 215)
Religious workers DKK 2,295
(Euro 308)
Extension of Positive List, Pay Limit scheme, athletes, trainees and the Corporate scheme DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Extension of Fast-track DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Extension of Greencard DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Extension of other schemes for highly qualified professionals DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Extension of study cases DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Extension of PhD DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Extension of Start-up Denmark (self-employment) DKK 1,750
(Euro 235)
Extension of researchers and guest researchers DKK 3,250
(Euro 436)
Extension of au pairs and interns DKK 2,400
(Euro 322)
Extension of accompanying family members of employees, self-employed persons, researchers, greencard and students DKK 1,600(Euro 215)
Extension of religious workers DKK 1,780
(Euro 239)
Permanent residence permit (all case types) DKK 5,450
(Euro 732)
Appeals (all case types) DKK 805
(Euro 108)
Re-opening of case (all case types) DKK 805(Euro 108)
Administration fee deducted when refunding case processing fee DKK 805(Euro 108)

 

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Shield GEO does not provide sponsored work permits in Denmark at this moment.

Types of visas in Denmark

Category Description of Visa
Scandinavian citizens Nordic citizens (i.e. citizens of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are free to live and work in Denmark without any restrictions. Hence, no residence or work permit is required. However, registration is required with the National Registration Office if residence is taken up in Denmark.
EU/EEA Nationals Denmark is a member of the European Union. As such, nationals from European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) member countries and Switzerland are free to line and work in Denmark for up to 3 months under the EU's rules on free movement of persons and services. If the person is a job-seeker, he or she may remain in Denmark for up to 6 months. The 3 or 6 month threshold is calculated from the date of entry into Denmark.

If it is anticipated that the stay will extend beyond 3 months, the EU/EEA national must obtain an EU residence document (registration certificate). The EU residence document is a formal proof of the person's rights as an EU citizen / EEA national under EU law. The foreign national must apply for this document within 3 months of your arrival in Denmark with the Regional State Administration. The certificate is not issued for a specific duration and will remain valid for as long as the conditions on which it was issued continue to apply.

Members of the applicant's family must apply separately for an EU-residence certificate.

After 5 years of uninterrupted legal residence in Denmark, the foreign national may apply for a certificate of right to permanent residence.

Once a registration certificate has been obtained, the applicant may contact the Citizen Services of the municipality of residence in order to get a civil registration number (CPR number) and a health security certificate.

Applicants are permitted to apply for a certificate of residence if they are an EU/EEA/ Swiss national and fall under one of the following categories:

1. Worker

2. Self-employed person

3. Student

4. Sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system. Your resources must as a minimum correspond to the sum of the benefits that the applicant might receive under Section 25, subsection 12 and Section 34 of the Active Social Policy Act.

Documentation required for an EU residence document

1. Completed application form
2. A clear copy of your passport or other valid travel document. A colour copy is preferred.  
3. 1 Passport photograph (2 if you are not an EU citizen).

When applying in person for the document, it is advisable to bring your original passport as well as other valid travel documents.

The following documentation is also required, depending on the reason for which you are applying for residence:

Worker: Employer's declaration (Appendix A of the application form) or employment contract.
Self-employed person: Budget covering the first year of operation drawn up by a registered public accountant or a state-authorized public accountant, proof of registration at the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency as well as a lease agreement that states where the activity is based. 
Student: Documentation for enrolment (educational establishment approved by the Danish Education Support Agency). 
Sufficient resources: Proof of sufficient resources to finance your stay, e.g. bank statement. 
Family member: Proof of family relationship with the EU citizen in the form of marriage certificate and/or birth certificate.

Agency: Applications may be submitted in person to one the State Administration offices or the Danish consulate abroad. Applications may also be made to at the International Citizen Service office in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense or Aalborg. 

Time taken: 1-3 weeks. The applicant is not restricted from working during this time.
Positive List The Positive List is a list of professions where there is currently a skills shortage in Denmark. Examples include engineers, doctors and medical consultants, auditors etc.

Applicants must meet the minimum educational requirements stated in the list before being eligible to apply under this scheme.

Duration of permit: 4 years (for an indefinite job contract). Extensions are permitted.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.
Pay Limit Scheme The Pay Limit scheme is designed for high-income individuals earning annual salaries above a specific threshold. The current minimum threshold is DKK 375,000. Individuals under this scheme have to meet this annual income requirement, inclusive of any unpaid holidays. Any holiday pay earned in the course of one income year but will be paid out the following year cannot be included in the calculation of the annual pay of the first income year.

Duration of permit: 4 years (for an indefinite job contract). Extensions are permitted.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.
Researchers Researchers are able to obtain residence and work permits provided they meet certain conditions. The applicant must be able to prove why the research should be carried out by the particular individual.

Special rules may apply depending on whether the researcher is a guest researcher or a PhD student. Researchers invited to teach or give lectures, may do so without a residence and work permit, provided your stay does not exceed three consecutive months, calculated from the day of arrival in Denmark.

Duration of permit: 4 years (for an indefinite job contract). Extensions are permitted.

For limited or temporary job contracts, the duration of the permit will be the same as the duration of the contract plus an extra 6 months.
Self-employment (Start up Denmark) Entrepreneurs qualifying under this special scheme may be eligible for a residence and work permit. To do so, the business idea must be approved by a panel of experts appointed by the Danish Business Authority. There must be particular Danish professional or labour market interests in the establishment of the company in Denmark. Consequently, the scheme is usually not granted in order to establish a restaurant, retail shop, small business, import or export enterprise or similar.

The following conditions must be met:

1. Your business idea must be approved by the panel of experts
2, You must document that you can support yourself during the first year of your stay in Denmark
3. You must participate actively in the day-to-day operation of the company, and your presence and involvement must be vital to the establishment of the business. If you have only financial interests in the business - for example, if you are a shareholder - you are not eligible for a Danish residence and work permit

Please also note that only a maximum of 50 permits are granted annually. Applications will be processed in the order that the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment receives them.

Duration: 2 years with the option to extend for 3 years at a time.
Greencard scheme Highly-skilled professionals wishing to work in Denmark can do so under the Greencard scheme. The Greencard scheme is a points-based system based on an individual evaluation of the applicant. Greencard holders are able to engage in paid or unpaid work in Denmark, however they are not permitted to open their own business  i.e. engage in self-employment.

Individuals that are successful in being granted a Greencard must move to Denmark and obtain a Danish address within 6 months of the date the visa was granted. Family members are not permitted to accompany the applicant until the applicant has a Danish address, found a job and received a salary. The applicant is also required to have earned a minimum salary of DKK 50,000 within the first year of the permit being granted.

To be successful under the Greencard scheme, an individual must score a minimum of 100 points. These points are calculated based on several criterion, namely educational level, language skills and adaptability. The individual is also required to document that he or she is able to support himself or herself during the first year in Denmark.

Duration: A first-time residence permit under the Greencard scheme may be granted for up to two years. Before the end of this period, you can apply for an extension of up to three years.

However, please note that the residence permit cannot be extended if you fail to meet a minimum income requirement: In 2015, the required amount is DKK 319,725.
Special individual qualifications This could apply in the case of:

1. Artists and entertainers, such as singers, musicians and conductors
2. Professional athletes and coaches
3. Specialised chefs

Duration: A residence and work permit is usually granted for one year at a time for the first two years. However, a permit is never granted for longer than the period specified in the employment contract. After the first two years, a two-year extension may be granted, and after four years, a maximum extension of three years at a time may be granted.
Herdsmen and farm managers Individuals may be granted a residence and work permit in Denmark as a herdsman or farm manager in agriculture. Individuals are required to have the necessary qualifications before applying under this category.

Duration: One year at a time, but not for longer than the validity period of your employment contract. If the individual has been with the same employer, in the same position, for at least two consecutive years, he or she may be granted a two-year extension, and subsequently, for periods of three years at a time.
Employees on moveable rigs and drillships Individuals may be granted a residence and work permit to work on an oil rig, drillship or other comparable movable work stations temporarily situated on Danish territory. This includes foreign nationals employed on pipe-laying ships or wind turbine installation vessels or similar.

The Danish government has also mandated that the foreign individual's salary and employment conditions correspond to Danish standards. In addition, it is normally a condition that prior to working on Danish territory, the individual has had similar employment on the moveable work station or has previously been employed in a similar position with the foreign company.

In order to be included in the scheme, the off-shore work situation must be:

the performance of a short-term work task on Danish territory and
a work task which is being carried out by a special vessel or ship which will leave Danish territory upon completion of the work task
Work situations in Danish harbours or close lying areas, e.g. work on a dredging vessel, are not included in the scheme.

Duration: The residence and work permit is granted for the limited time period that the moveable work station is situated on Danish territory (usually one to three months). A permit cannot be granted for longer than six months.

Please note that the above is not exhaustive and other work permits exist for au pairs, interns, trainees etc but rather aim to given an overview of the most common types of permits used by businesses and individuals.
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