Danish visas still too hard to get
While the government’s new visa rules are supposed to make travelling to Denmark easier, Politiken newspaper reports that a lack of foreign consulates is still presenting problems for travellers who need a Danish visa.
To cut costs, Denmark is in the process of reducing the number of consulates and embassies in foreign countries. By 2014 the number will be down to 72, compared to around 100 at its peak.
The lack of consulates shouldn’t be a problem, as Denmark can have its visa applications processed by other European countries that represent Denmark through co-operative agreements. But new visa rules introduced by the former government before they lost power in 2011 – including the demand to have all applications screened in Denmark for final approval – led a number of EU countries to stop processing Danish applications, which effectively closed travel to Denmark for citizens of 27 countries.
Some co-operative agreements have been reinstated but, according to Politiken, residents of 16 countries still have to travel to another country to file a visa application because France and Germany continue to refuse to co-operate with Denmark.
Henrik Busch, the chairman of the tourism agency Wonderful Copenhagen, says the government is being dishonest in claiming that it will become easier to travel to Denmark.
“Over the past two years, access to Denmark has been reduced,” Busch told Politiken. “We have a major problem because it is so difficult to apply for a visa. When you close your shop, you lose customers.”
But even in countries where Denmark has co-operative agreements in place, applying for a Danish visa can still prove tricky.
Over the weekend, Politiken reported about a 22-year-old Tunisian woman who had her visa application to visit family in Denmark rejected by the Finnish Embassy in Tunis, which ruled that there was a risk she would stay beyond the visa’s time limit.
The rejection came as a surprise as her brother, a Danish citizen, and his wife regularly hosted their Tunisian family and the visiting members always returned to Tunisia before their visas expired.
The woman decided to file a formal complaint but was told that her complaint had to be written in either Swedish or Finnish. Her sister-in-law had the complaint translated into Swedish but was denied any insight into the processing of the complaint – normal practice for the complaints procedure in Finland, but not in Denmark.
The woman was then told by the Foreign Ministry that she had a better chance of having her visa application approved if she applied through a Danish consulate. But the closest one was over 2,000 kilometres away in Cairo, Egypt, which the Foreign Ministry does not recommend people travelling to because of the ongoing unrest.
A ministry official later apologised for recommending that she travel to Egypt, but added that the situation was typical as Finland was responsible for processing the complaints in this case.
“It is unfortunately the case that we have been through some tough rounds of cuts that have resulted in closing some consulates around the world,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Torben Gettermand told Politiken. “We can reduce the impact by joining co-operative agreements and we are reasonably well, although not completely, covered around the world. This is an attempt to be as open as possible but we have to accept that there are different rules and procedures.”