Denmark moves to tighten citizenship requirements

Those wanting to become Danes will face stricter conditions in terms of language skills and financial self-reliance.

    Denmark has seen a large influx of refugees this summer, but many have continued north to Sweden [EPA]
    Denmark has seen a large influx of refugees this summer, but many have continued north to Sweden [EPA]

    Politicians in Denmark have agreed to make it more difficult to acquire citizenship in the country.

    The Northern European country last month cut benefits for asylum seekers in another move to deter an influx of refugees and economic migrants.

    "Acquiring Danish citizenship is something very special, and therefore it is also reasonable that we now raise the bar for when a person can call themselves a Danish citizen," integration minister Inger Stojberg said in a statement on Monday.

    Those wanting to become Danish nationals will have to meet tougher requirements on language skills and be financially self-sufficient for four years and six months of the past five years, up from the current two years and six months.

    Applicants will also have to score better on a test about Denmark, answering correctly on at least 32 of 40 questions. The questions cover Danish current affairs, Danish history and Danish society.

    For applicants who have a criminal record, the period of time that has to elapse since their conviction before they can apply for citizenship will be increased by 50 percent.

    Under current rules, a criminal record results in a three to 20-year quarantine from obtaining citizenship, depending on the nature of the crime. 

    'Can't speak Danish'

    "There are too many people who have been granted citizenship who can't speak Danish," Astrid Krag, the integration spokeswoman for the Social Democrats, told news agency Ritzau.

    Monday's announcement came after the minority Venstre Party government clinched a deal with the far-right Danish People's Party, the Conservatives, the libertarian Liberal Alliance and the Social Democrats to support such a bill in parliament.

    The new regulations will come into force on October 15.

    On July 1, Denmark slashed benefits to asylum seekers.

    Under the new rules, which came into effect in September, an asylum seeker without children receives $892 per month in benefits, almost half the $1,627 they previously received.

    Politicians supporting the measure said benefits had to be cut to give immigrants financial incentive to work.

    Thousands of refugees have entered the country this year, fleeing wars in Syria and Afghanistan. Many have avoided registering for asylum in Denmark, and instead, continued north to Sweden, where immigration policies are more liberal.

    In 2014, almost 15,000 people applied for asylum in Denmark, a country of 5.6 million. It was the highest number in nearly 20 years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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