Time is running out for Jeffrey Hunter. He’s a man on a mission and day-zero is May 1. Before him are two options: find a job or leave the country. Tick tock, tick tock.
This might explain why he has taken the drastic action of setting up a Facebook page promising 10,000 kroner to the person who gives him the tip-off that leads to him getting hired.
“I know the value of social media, which is why I used Facebook,” he said.
Hunter is certainly not the first person who has had to deal with this specific problem, but it’s a safe bet that few before him have offered a finder’s fee on Facebook as an active part of their rescue plan to stay in Denmark. The idea, Hunter believes, will help him find the jobs that aren’t advertised, and at the same time show off his creative side.
“I’m getting desperate,” he said. “I got this crazy idea one night to offer 10,000 kroner to the person whose tip-off leads to the right job. I sat on it for a few days, and then just went for it. I’ve spent 10,000 kroner in worse ways.”
At the moment he is stuck in a bind. Since he doesn’t have a master’s degree, he can’t get a green card, and because he worked for only three years – and not the required four – before being laid off, he doesn’t qualify for permanent residence either. The fact that he’s American only makes the situation more difficult, as the government only approves jobs for non-EU residents when there is a shortage of qualified workers or when the annual salary exceeds 375,000 kroner (31,250 kroner a month).
“This usually means that the job has to require native English. I can’t work in a café or shop, for example,” Hunter said.
The reason behind this is that the former government only wanted to attract foreigners who were highly-qualified, according to Ulla Fokdal, a spokesperson for the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment.
“An alternative to the Pay Limit Scheme is the ‘Positive List’ that consists of a list of fields that are experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals,” she said. “So it’s not enough to just go out and find a job as a cleaning lady.”
Though Hunter hasn’t had any specific problems with the Immigration Service, he doesn’t understand why the rules are so strict.
“If people are searching for government-approved jobs, and they can support themselves, and they take no public assistance, I don’t understand why they can’t stay as long as it takes,” he said. “I don’t understand what time has to do with anything.”
Hunter has applied for many jobs, but with upwards of 150 applicants for the positions he’s qualified for, he feels that Danish rivals always seem to have an advantage.
“I’ve made it to a few final rounds, and was twice told that it could’ve just as easily been me, but they chose to go with a Dane,” he said. “I think foreigners are always up against that bias.”
In the Facebook group, almost 100 people have so far shown their interest, and many of them have tried to help out, and he remains hopeful that his horse will come in.
“I love the streets, the buildings, the colours, the people. The girls on bikes. The lifestyle, the opinions, the progressiveness. The summer houses. The self-sufficiency. The way everything works.”
With little more than a month to go, Hunter is keeping his spirits up with the support on Facebook.
“In just a couple days I’ve got 90 likes and countless shares. I’ve got many tips, and I’ve already had two interviews directly due to this. People have been great. Maybe this is the only way to look for jobs.”
Factfile | Residence and work permits
There are different rules and schemes to make it easier for highly qualified professionals to get residence and work permits in Denmark. Here are a few of them:
- The Positive List: if your professional field is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals.
- The Pay Limit scheme: if you get a job with an annual salary above 375,000kr.
- The Corporate scheme: if you work for a company whose headquarters are outside Denmark then you can work for one of the company’s Danish subsidiaries, or even its parent or sister company.
- The Green Card scheme: if you are a highly qualified professional you can come to Denmark in order to seek work and then subsequently receive a work permit.
- Other: different rules apply for specific groups of people including researchers, trainees, athletes, religious workers and the self-employed.