If you don't know what country nearly 300,000 Danes emigrated to in the 19th century or who Asger Jorn was, you may have a hard time answering some of the questions found on the current Danish citizenship test (indfødsretsprøven). But a new, modernised version of the test (statsborgerskabsprøven) will be ready by June and will focus more on current Danish society than trivial history.
The Justice Ministry has released a draft of legislation giving it the authority to establish a new citizenship test with fewer overall questions and a more modern focus, but one that the ministry says will still ensure that new citizens have a solid basic knowledge of society, the political system and other aspects of Danish daily life.
The test will be held two times annually, and foreigners who have passed the previous test will still be able to apply that towards obtaining citizenship.
The main difference between holding permanent residence and being a citizen is that citizens have the right to vote. In order to gain Danish citizenship, applicants must already have permanent residence and an address in Denmark, be debt-free, self-sufficient and have no criminal record.
The new test should have been implemented this year but has been postponed several times. It was brought back to the political agenda when PM Helle Thorning Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) opened parliament on October 1.
The government parties Socialdemokraterne, Socialistisk Folkeparti, Radikale reached an agreement with far-left party Enhedslisten earlier this year to make it easier for foreigners to apply for Danish citizenship, especially by softening the Danish language skills requirements. Individuals can now apply for citizenship if they have passed the second level of Danish courses, Dansk 2, whereas previously they had to pass the more difficult Dansk 3.
30 questions in 45 minutes
The Education Ministry, which is already responsible for the language courses, is in charge of developing the multiple choice citizenship test. The Justice Ministry will then approve the difficulty and the language level of the questions.
The test will be in Danish and applicants will get 45 minutes to answer 30 questions, ten fewer than the previous test. Applicants will need to correctly answer at least 22 questions in order to pass. As before, the Education Ministry will provide a course pack giving applicants a chance to prepare themselves before the test.
Developing and implementing the new citizenship test will cost the state 1.3 million kroner, and applicants will have to pay a fee of approximately 700 kroner in order to participate.
The current citizenship exam has been criticised from both sides of the political spectrum for being so difficult that even Danes have trouble passing it.