Resettlement to Denmark

For more detailed information on resettlement to Denmark, a full country profile can be viewed here at Know Reset.

A refugee residing outside of Denmark can be resettled in Denmark following an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a similar international organisation.

Resettlement in Denmark always takes place at the request of the UNHCR. Each year, Denmark allocates approximately 500 resettlement places divided between four different categories:

  • a geographical category: primarily refugees offered resettlement following in-country selection missions;

  • an emergency and urgent category: refugees, who are in an immediate risk of refoulement to their country of origin and/or who risk assaults in their country of stay;

  • a medical category under the Twenty-or-More (TOM) programme: refugees with special medical needs;

  • a fourth category for families: accepted on a dossier basis together with a person accepted as a medical case under the TOM programme.

Family reunification is outside the resettlement quota (see below).

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for resettlement to Denmark, the person must meet either the criteria of Section 8 (1), (2) or (3):

Section 8 (1):

Upon application, a residence permit will be issued to an alien who arrives in Denmark under an agreement made with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or similar international agreement, and who falls within the provisions of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (28 July 1951), cf. section 7 (1).

Section 8 (2):

In addition to the cases mentioned in subsection (1), a residence permit will be issued, upon application, to an alien who arrives in Denmark under an agreement as mentioned in subsection (1), and who risks the death penalty or being subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in case of return to his country of origin, cf. section 7 (2).

Section 8 (3):

In addition to the cases mentioned in subsections (1) and (2), a residence permit will be issued, upon application, to an alien who arrives in Denmark under an agreement as mentioned in subsection (1), and who presumably have satisfied the fundamental conditions for obtaining a residence permit under one of the provisions of the Aliens Act, if he had entered Denmark as an asylum-seeker.

To qualify for resettlement under this last Section, one of the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • the person must find him/herself in a situation where essential considerations of a humanitarian nature make it appropriate to grant him or her a residence permit, or

  • the person has for a longer period of time not been able to return to his/her country of origin, even though he/she no longer risks persecution, and there is no prospect for him or her to return to the country of origin, or

  • the person is an unaccompanied minor, i.e. he/she is staying in the country of first asylum without his or her parents, whose place of residence is unknown and/or he/she is without any other caretakers replacing the parents – and the unaccompanied minor will be placed in an emergency situation upon continued stay in the country of first asylum or upon return to the country of origin, or

  • the person has essential qualifications which make it appropriate to grant the him/her a residence permit, including if he/she can obtain employment within a professional field of particularly qualified labor, or

  • the person has close family ties in Denmark, which would normally allow him/her to apply for family reunification;

  • other exceptional reasons that make it appropriate to issue a residence permit.

Other criteria are usually of importance when considering a person for resettlement. Section 8 (4) reads:

In the selection of aliens issued with a residence permit under subsections (1) to (3), the aliens’ possibilities of establishing roots in Denmark and benefiting from the residence permit, including their language qualifications, education and training, work experience, family situation, network, age and motivation, must be emphasised, unless particular reasons make it inappropriate.

  • language qualifications: the refugee should normally be able to read and write in his/her mother tongue. However, illiteracy alone is not a reason for exclusion from resettlement. If the illiterate refugee belongs to a family or group of persons who possess the qualifications considered important for integration in Denmark, resettlement will be considered.

  • education and work experience: these two factors are vital. However, a high education qualification is not necessarily considered to be optimal for successful integration.

  • family situation: the unity of the family is to be maintained even when all family members do not fulfill the supplementary criteria considered important for integration in Denmark. Families with children are often prioritised.

  • network: the resettlement of an entire group forming a network, other than the one constituted by family members, may strengthen the individual refugee’s possibility for obtaining a successful integration in Denmark.

  • age: it is presumed that old or very young people, without relatives or any other social network, will have a harder time adjusting to the living conditions in Denmark.

  • motivation: failing to fulfill one or more of the supplementary criteria may be disregarded if the motivation to work for a successful integration exists.

Admissibility for Resettlement

Refugees under consideration for resettlement in Denmark undergo a security investigation by the Danish Security Intelligence Service and the Danish Defence Intelligence Service.

Pursuant to Section 10 of the Danish Aliens Act, a refugee cannot be granted resettlement in Denmark if he/she has been convicted for a crime abroad, is deemed to be a danger to national security, public order and safety or if he/she falls within Article 1F of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The applicant must also consent to a medical examination performed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). For public health considerations, persons who suffer from particular highly contagious diseases or mental illnesses will, unless particular reasons make it inappropriate, not be accepted for resettlement in Denmark. However, particular reasons could favour granting them a residence permit such as substantial needs for protection or close family ties to persons residing in Denmark.

Finally, the applicant must sign a declaration accepting the conditions for resettlement in Denmark, including the importance of working and learning Danish. In emergency and urgent cases, exceptional circumstances can make it inappropriate to expect the person to participate in the health examination or to sign the declaration on the conditions for resettlement in Denmark.

Family Reunification for Resettled Refugees

Refugees resettled in Denmark may under certain circumstances be granted family reunification with their spouse or permanent partner and unmarried children.

The requirements that the spouse/permanent partner must fulfill in order to obtain a residence permit are the following:

  • the marriage must be valid both according to the rules of the country in which the marriage was contracted and according to Danish law; this means, among other things, that both parties to the marriage were present at the marriage ceremony;

  • both parties must have entered into the marriage contract of their own free will;

  • if the parties are not married prior to entry into the country but can document that they have lived together at a common address for at least one and a half year, the fiancé(e)/permanent partner may join the resettled person in Denmark;

  • the marriage or the co-habitation may not have been entered into with the sole purpose of obtaining a residence permit for the spouse or the co-habitation partner for Denmark.

As a general rule, reunification with children requires that the unmarried child is under 15 years of age but may, under some circumstances, also be given to unmarried children aged between 15 and 18. The children must live together with the resettled person following their entry into Denmark.

Parents and other family members, with the exception of spouses and permanent partners and children below 18 years of age, cannot be issued a residence permit under the Danish rules of family reunification.


Sources: this information has been taken from official documents as well as the Denmark country chapter in the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.