Foreign students should get green cards, coalition member says

Radikale MP is encouraging the government to extend the length of time a non-EU student can remain in Denmark and look for work from six months to three years

Foreign students completing three years of university study should automatically be granted green cards to allow them to stay and work in Denmark, coalition partner Radikale has proposed.

Students from non-EU countries are currently only given six months to find work in Denmark after completing their education before being told to return home, despite many of them having received grants subsidised by the Danish state  green cards would give them a minimum of three years to find work.

Nadeem Farooq, the Radikale labour market spokesperson, is urging the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), to include the proposal in the government’s overhaul of immigration policies this autumn.

“Talented foreigners are being turfed out of Denmark even though they could make the country richer by staying and working after they finish their education,” Farooq told Berlingske newspaper. “Our businesses need to have the best possible opportunities for recruiting good employees.”

The proposal enjoys broad political support, not least from the main opposition party, Venstre.

“I agree that it seems paradoxical that we use tax money to educate people in Denmark but then cannot use their knowledge and let them contribute to Danish society,” Ulla Tørnæs, Venstre’s labour market spokesperson, told Berlingske.

The green card scheme was introduced in 2008 as way to open up Denmark to foreigners who could fill jobs that require high levels of skill and education, and was supported by the coalition government parties at the time, Venstre and Konservative, along with Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Radikale.

All parties need to approve changes to the scheme, though DF looks unlikely to support it, as they fear granting foreign students the right to work in Denmark will only make it harder for Danish university graduated to find jobs at a time when they are experiencing record unemployment.

“The Radikale’s proposal is hopeless,” Martin Henriksen, DF’s immigration spokesperson, told Berlingske. “We would only agree to discuss granting other groups access to the Danish job market if the other parties can convince us that we are lacking workers and that we also close loopholes in the scheme and put limits in place for those that do not contribute.”

Henriksen is referring to a study that showed 70 percent of green card holders were either unemployed or doing low-paid work.

Henriksen did not add, however, that green card holders are not entitled to many government services such as help finding employment through state-funded employment centres, while also having to prove they have the financial resources to provide for themselves in the first year of their stay.

Figures from Center for Economic and Business Research published last November also showed that an average foreign worker with a family stays in Denmark for eight years, during which time they contribute 1.9 million kroner more to the Danish state than they cost.

Read much more about the problems with the green card system in the coming edition of The Copenhagen Post.

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