Relaxed citizenship rules clear first hurdle

Government changes in language requirements and support regulations help ease citizenship path for 234 of 1,109 residents applying for citizenship

The first small step to realising the government's relaxed citizenship guidelines occurred on Friday when a proposal was sent to committee that would grant citizenship to 234 immigrants under rule changes announced earlier this year.

Of the 1,109 names on the annual citizenship bill, 234 will benefit from the government's changes. Relaxed Danish language skills and proof that an applicant has been self-supporting for only 2.5 out of five years – as opposed to the 4.5 years out of five previously required – are among the changes that will ease the way for all those seeking to obtain citizenship in the future.

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“I am pleased that this government is behind a sensible integration policy,” Karina Lorentzen, the integration spokesperson for SF, told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau. “We have relaxed Danish requirements for refugees and given the disabled and sick more possibilities for exemptions, so they can still become citizens if, for example, they have been traumatised or injured by war.”

The citizenship bill is on its first of three readings. Although some of the individuals listed in the bill will benefit from the relaxed citizenship rules, those seeking Danish citizenship this go-round will not be taking a new and easier citizenship test.

The new test is designed to replace the controversial citizenship test put in place by the VKO regime in 2005, which challenged potential citizens' knowledge of Danish culture and history with questions about everything from abstract painters like Carl-Henning Pedersen to past members of the national football side.

The government said its new test, which is scheduled to be ready by June, will focus more on everyday life and political engagement.