Businesses demand better immigration rules

The government says it wants more highly educated foreigners to work in Denmark, but businesses say their foreign employees are still battling an unfair system

Businesses are challenging the government to change immigration rules that make it difficult and bureaucratic to hire and retain highly-educated foreigners.

Spearheading the demand is the Consortium for Global Talent (CGT), a joint initiative between 18 of the largest international companies based in Denmark including Carlsberg, Novo Nordisk, Lego and Mærsk.

“We want something concrete and long-sighted with a global perspective from the politicians, but we are not seeing it,”  the CGT's CEO, Tine Horwitz, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Complicated system
Horwitz points out that despite the government’s stated ambition to attract more highly talented foreigners, little has been done to simplify the immigration system.

Siemens is also a member of CGT and of its roughly 7,000 employees, ten percent are foreign – with a greater share predicted for the future.

“We lack the realisation that not all foreigners who come to Denmark are welfare tourists intent on claiming public services but are in fact tax paying residents who actively create value for both the local society and the country as a whole,” Michael Larsen, a delegation consultant at Siemens, told Jyllands-Posten.

Negative experiences
One sixth of the 80 employees working for the marketing bureau LBi are foreign, and CEO Bettina Sherain says the company repeatedly experiences that these foreign workers have an uphill battle with the immigration system.

“It’s a major problem for us that foreign employees have negative experiences in Denmark,” she told Jyllands-Posten. “It naturally makes the business insecure if the employees are nervous about their immigration cases despite the fact that they have followed all the guidelines for attaining a residence and work permit.”

The research, innovation and higher education minister, Morten Østergaard (R), said he recognises that the bureaucracy needs to be minimised and that it needs to be easier for businesses to attract and retain clever foreigners.

The government is expected to present concrete proposals from the beginning of next year, but Østergaard won’t yet reveal what they are.

“We are happy for the large global businesses and we only shoot ourselves in the foot if we don’t attract good employees,” Østergaard told Jyllands-Posten.

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