Copenhagen, Danish for welcome

City initiative seeks to help foreigners make the transition to life in Copenhagen in the hope they’ll stay here longer

International House Copenhagen, a new institution that gathers all the various city agencies dealing with issues concerning new foreign residents, opened its doors to the public on Tuesday. Located on Gyldenløvesgade 11 in the city centre, it will provide foreigners and expats with a one-stop shop when relocating to Copenhagen.

The new initiative will be a way for immigrants to get help with practical matters such as guidance on job seeking and education, help with paperwork for residence permits and CPR numbers, as well as assistance with tax cards.

The city also hopes International House Copenhagen will act as a community centre where internationals can come and network.

Guest lecturers at the University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet will also be able to rent short-term accommodations in the building.

The idea for International House comes from the city, but it is a collaboration between many different partners such as the University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, the city's Employment and Integration Administration, as well as private companies.

“We are very happy with the many collaborating partners we have had on the project,” said mayor Frank Jensen. “Copenhagen has been missing a place like this.”

Jensen pointed out that expats are important to the economy and, as The Copenhagen Post reported last April, recent figures suggest the city's economy could not do without its international workforce.

He said that if Copenhagen hopes to keep up in an ever more globalised world, it needs to be better at integrating its foreigners.

Major Frank Jensen was on hand to welcomes guests during the centre's opening together Karin van Goinga Middelburg, of SimCorp, and Anna Mee Allerslev, deputy mayor for employment and integration (Photo: Elias Thorsson)

“We have not been good enough. Too many students and expats leave the country and International House is a part of the solution.”

The number of international students in Denmark has tripled over the last ten years. Overall, half of the Danish expat community lives in Copenhagen.

Although Jensen said that creating the centre was a big step in the right direction, he stressed that change will not come overnight.

Anna Mee Allerslev, the deputy mayor for employment and integration, struck a similar note.

“We want Copenhagen to be the most inclusive city in Europe by 2015,” said Allerslev, referring to the goals set in the integration campaign Bland dig i byen.

One of her goals for foreigners is that it should be “easier to become a Copenhagener than a Dane”.

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