Family reunification boosted by relaxed laws
The number of family reunification permits handed out has shot up by over 50 percent according to figures from Immigration Services (Udlændingestyrelsen).
The marked increase in approved permits is result of a more lenient immigration law that was passed in May 2012 that not only did away with the point system – which gave points for job experience and education – but also tougher financial demands.
The number of approved family reunification applications rose from less than 3,200 in 2012 to over 4,700 in 2013, Udlændingestyrelsen revealed. Part of the increase, the agency said, could be down to quicker case processing time.
Figures should normalise
Whatever the reason for the increase, the association Ægteskab uden Grænser (marriage without borders) called it “great news”.
“It means that more Danish citizens are getting the opportunity to live with their spouses in Denmark and don’t need to move to Sweden or Germany to be able to live with one another,” Lars Kyhnau Hansen, a spokesperson for Ægteskab uden Grænser, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
The justice minister, Karen Hækkerup (S), who promised in December that she would follow the stiff immigration line set by her predecessor Morten Bødskov (S), did not see the increase in approvals as an issue and expects that the rise is partially down to a flood of applications from people who had awaited the rule changes.
“I don’t expect that the figures will continue to look like this since there will be some normalisation,” Hækkerup said. “We have dealt with the educational snobbery which was prevalent in the former system and that means that more people are allowed to be here. That’s not a problem in itself, as long as they become active citizens.”
But opposition parties Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (DF), who were behind the strict immigration rules that were passed during the previous decade, are not pleased with the news. Venstre finds the new rules too lax, while DF wants to re-introduce the point system.
“We have time and time again warned the government about this, but to no avail,” Martin Henriksen, DF's spokesperson for integration issues, told Jyllands-Posten. “I hope that the latest figures convey to the government that it is not possible to have a tight immigration policy with today’s legislation.”
The Udlændingestyrelsen figures from 2013 do not include December, but when they do, last year is expected to have the most family reunification approvals since 2002.
The news also comes in the wake of a massive increase in granted permanent residencies in 2013. Last month, it was revealed that through November, 4,342 foreigners had been handed permanent residency last year, a seven-fold increase from 2011.