The government is promising less immigration bureaucracy after dropping the heavily criticised points-system for residence.
The number of permanent residence applications granted had slowed to a crawl after the previous government increasingly tightened immigration laws during the decade it was in power. But under the Socialdemokraterne-led government, which took office at the end of last year, those laws have become more lenient, and as a result more have applied for permanent stay in Denmark.
In the first three months of 2012, Udlændingestyrelsen, the national immigration authority, granted 313 permits, compared with 578 permits granted in all of 2011. This is despite the number of applications remaining largely the same for both periods.
Peter Skaarup, who is the deputy leader of the anti-immigration Dansk Folkeparti, which was one of the parties behind the immigration reforms, suggested that the new number was a result of the point systems implemented in 2010 and 2011 beginning to pay off.
“A permanent residence permit is not something one should easily be able to obtain,” Skaarup told Berlingske newspaper. “There are definitely a number of foreigners that only come for shorter periods and will go back home when more peaceful times returns to their homelands.”
The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), indicated that he found the point-system to be cumbersome and was pleased that the new process had been streamlined.
“The point system was unreasonable and incredibly bureaucratic and that’s why we are getting rid of it,” Bødskov told Berlingske newspaper. “And sure, the new rules may take some time to efficiently take hold, but the point system required too much administration and instead we are creating a clear foundation with more transparency.”
The relaxed family reunification regulations, which set the guidelines for those seeking to bring spouses or other family members to live in Denmark, took effect on May 15, and the law involving permanent residence cases is due to be ratified within the next few weeks.
Udlændingestyrelsen expects the number of applications to continue to increase, from 2,400 in the first half of 2012 to 3,600 in the second half of 2012, while 2013 is expected to yield 7,200 applications.
The number of applications granted is also expected to increase, but despite this, Denmark continues to have some of the EU’s toughest immigration laws.