Scoring 49 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, Denmark’s policies create almost as many opportunities as obstacles for non-EU immigrants’ to full participation in society. Denmark scores below other Western European/OECD countries.
Denmark’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “Temporary Integration”. Foreign citizens can benefit from access to basic rights and some targeted support for equal opportunities, but they do not enjoy the long-term security to settle permanently, invest in integration and participate as full citizens. Denmark is one of the most insecure of these “Temporary Integration” countries, with policies most similar to those of Austria and Switzerland. Non-EU citizens are left insecure in Denmark, scoring 17/100 on security - nearly the most insecure among all 52 MIPEX countries, alongside Austria and Switzerland.
Denmark’s ”Temporary Integration” approach encourages the Danish public to see immigrants as foreigners and not as the equals of native citizens. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact with and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: slightly favourable: Permanent residents, family members and green card holders can apply for jobs in any sector – private, public, and self-employment. Non-EU work-permit holders face delays in access to public employment services and vocational training, unlike Danish citizens and other immigrants. In 2015 a lower integration allowance was established, aimed at giving newly arrived refugees and immigrants greater incentive to work.
- Family reunification: slightly unfavourable: Non-EU immigrants face the least family-friendly immigration policies among MIPEX countries. Many restrictive eligibility requirements make most families unable to reunite and integrate in Denmark. Applicants can be rejected on many discretionary grounds.
- Education: halfway favourable: Immigrant pupils are supported to access pre-primary and compulsory education. They can benefit from several targeted measures, similarly to other Nordic countries (i.e., Finland, Norway and Sweden). Immigrant pupils and parents in Denmark can benefit from pilot programmes to make schools into spaces for social integration, though multilingualism and multiculturalism still tend to be overlooked as new opportunities for learning.
- Health: halfway favourable: Legal migrants are entitled to the same national health insurance system and services as citizens, once they get through the registration process with the DK National Register of Persons. Legal migrants and, to a limited extent, asylum seekers can get information about their entitlements and health issues in various ways and languages. Interpreters are now provided free of charge to patients who have resided in the country for fewer than 3 years.
- Political participation: slightly favourable: Ranked in the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries, Denmark guarantees immigrants the same basic political liberties as national citizens in Denmark. Non-EU citizens have the right to vote and to stand in local and regional elections after three years of residence. Immigrants and immigrant associations are consulted and funded.
- Permanent residence: halfway favourable: The path to permanent residence is halfway favourable for integration in the country. Since 2015, non-EU residents are eligible after 8 years for a relatively demanding path to permanent residence and near-equal rights in Denmark, like in the other Nordic countries.
- Access to nationality: halfway favourable: Immigrants can benefit from dual nationality, but many may be discouraged from applying by several remaining restrictions. Applicants are confronted with a final parliamentary-based decision that is discretionary, without legal time limit or full rights of appeal. Law no. 110 of 8 February 2016 abolished the entitlement to Danish nationality by declaration for young persons born and raised in Denmark.
- Anti-discrimination: halfway favourable: Potential victims of discrimination continue to benefit from minor improvements in Denmark's laws and policies to fight discrimination. All people are protected from racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in public life. Victims enjoy average access to redress, such as binding mediation decisions, stronger equality bodies.