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You can contact the police anywhere in Denmark, they will explain how to get to Center Sandholm (Sandholmgårdsvej 40, 3460 Birkerød) where the registration takes place. It is a good idea to arrive on a weekday during office hours, even though it is always open.
The police will ask for your ID and personal information (name, date of birth, nationality), they will take a photo and they will take your fingerprints. You will get a white ID card with your information on it (asylum card). Danish Red Cross will find you a place to sleep and offer you food and clothes. You might be moved to another asylum camp shortly after. The asylum camps are open, but you must live in the camp as a rule.
After a few days you will be asked to fill out the asylum form in your own language – you don't have to, but we recommend that you do it. Make a time line of your life to support your memory, and write about your problems in as much detail as possible. But only write what you are sure about, don't guess about dates for example – if you're not sure, write "approximately" or "I think".
After the form filling you will get a date for the first interview with Immigration Service.
You can find more information and advice about the asylum process in our leaflet (9 languages).
• Draw a time line for your life before form filling/interview. Place all important events on it, make notes of details (names, places, dates).
• Fill out the asylum form in detail, give all relevant information from the beginning, don’t change your story. Write in English or French if you are fluent in one of these languages (translation is more safe).
• Forget advice/warnings from agents or friends! Your best chance is to tell the truth and trust the authorities. Your information will be kept confidential.
• Make a sound recording from your full interview on your smart phone – and tell the interviewer that you do it. Afterwards, you will be able to prove misunderstandings if they occur.
• Don't be scared of the interviewer, relax and be yourself. Trust her and the interpreter with your information, they will keep it confidential.
• Ask for another interpreter if he/she is not perfect in your language. If not granted, make sure they note that you are not satisfied. A new interview will normally be scheduled a few weeks later.
• Ask for an English or French interpreter if you speak it fluently (interpreters are better, and the interviewer may speak it too).
• Check for interpretation errors/misunderstandings before you sign (try with alternative words).
• Ask for a female/male interwiever in advance (just after arrival) if it is relevant for your case.
• Mention the asylum motive for your children if they have one.
• Answer questions precisely. If you want to add things, do it afterwards.
• Sign the voluntary return contract – you can always change your mind later.
Health problems: Inform about these from the start and get treatment.
Refugee Appeals Board: Choose your own lawyer and trust him/her (ask Refugees Welcome for recommendations).
In general:Be active all the time, take part in everything you can, make Danish friends.
Only if you are in personal, concrete danger in your home country. It can be in the form of persecution because of your religion, ethnicity, political opinions or sexual orientation. You can also get asylum if you are in risk of death penalty or torture. In a few areas, the general risk is so high that it's possible to get asylum without a personal risk. It is not possible to obtain asylum on the grounds of poverty or poor social conditions.
The personal asylum motive depends on whether the authorities believe what you are saying during interviews. Therefore it is important to be honest, trust the authorities with all your information and tell everything in detail. Read more advice in our leaflet for asylum seekers.
It varies a lot from year to year, as it depends on the number of new asylum seekers and how complicated the cases are.
The average waiting time for asylum is usually 6 months. But if you get rejected, there will be another 4-8 months waiting time for the Refugee Appeals Board. Quite a few people will wait for more than a year before they get the final decision.
Make sure you stay as active as possible during the waiting time. The passive and stressful waiting time affects most people mentally.
What can you do during the waiting time?• Try to learn Danish. Free online course here: Dansk her og nu
• Make friends – most Danes are friendly and helpful if you contact them
• Offer your help in the camp, and get out of the camp as often as you can
• Keep in shape physically
• Get a used bicycle and learn to ride it – easy and cheap transportation and good exercise!
• Get in contact with the local group of Venligboerne (find it here)
• Watch Danish TV, go to the local library (they are free to use)
• If you count on getting asylum and want your family to come, prepare the application for family reunification so it will be ready (see our guide). The waiting time for that is long too, and you can save time this way.
No, normally not. Immigration Service decides where you must live. But if you have family members or a girlfriend/boyfriend living in Denmark, you can ask to stay in a camp close to them.
If you get harassed by certain other people in your camp, you can also ask the staff to be moved.
After 6 months you can apply to move out of the camp and live with a family member or a friend (link to form). Or you can apply to have a job contract approved and pay for your own place outside (see next Q&A).
Yes, but only after 6 months. You need to get a contract approved by Immigration Service, and both you and the employer needs to meet a number of criteria. Read more about them here. If the job is approved, you have to pay for your accommodation – in the camp or outside. For these reasons, not many asylum seekers actually succeed in supporting themselves before they get an answer.
You will also have to sign a contract with Immigration Service to return voluntarily to your home country if you get a negative answer. But this is not legally binding, and you can always change your mind later.
Normally, no. Only if you have a passport and a valid visa. But you can ask for dispensation if you have been in Denmark for more than 3 years and had a relationship to the person for more than 18 months – or if you are expecting a child together. In that case, ask the marriage office in the kommune where the person with residence permit is living. If they refuse, you must contact Ankestyrelsen and ask permission. Read more in this note from Danish Refugee Council (in Danish).
But getting married will not give you a permit to stay – that's only the first step. Read more under "I want my family to come here"
Normally it means that Denmark will ask the other country to take over your case (a Dublin transfer). This means that you will be sent out of Denmark/transferred to the country in which you have your first fingerprints. But there are exceptions: you will not be sent back to Greece or Hungary. And if you have a spouse or a child in Denmark, who applied before you, or already has a residence permit, you should be allowed to keep your case in Denmark.
If you are an unaccompanied minor you will not be moved to another country against your own wishes. If you have health problems or can otherwise be considered a vulnerable person, there are some countries that Denmark will not send you to.
If Immigration Service decides to send you to another country, you can get help from Danish Refugee Council to make a complaint about the Dublin decision (within 7 days after the decision, so hurry!): phone weekdays 9-15: 3373 5000, e-mail: email@example.com, visit: Wednesdays 10-13, Borgergade 10, Kbh. K.
If you have been outside the system more than 18 months after the final Dublin decision in the Refugee Appeals Board, the fingerprints will normally be canceled and Denmark will open your case.
As an asylum seeker, you only have access to necessary, acute and pain-relieving treatment (children have full rights to health treatment). In acute situations, you must call an ambulance on 112 or call the emergency phone lines like everybody else (different numbers in each region). But for other problems, you must contact the nurse in your camp.
During the asylum process, you will be asked if you have health problems – don't hide anything because you think it will be negative in your case. Tell the truth, and ask for treatment if you need it. If you have very serious problems, there might be an option for a humanitarian residence permit (see next question).
You will only have a chance if you have very serious health problems or diseases, and only if you have no access to the neccessary treatment in your home country. The disease and treatment must be documented by a doctor. Very few people get this permit every year, and it is very temporary. The application is handled by the Ministry of Integration.
The best status is §7 stk. 1 (convention status). If you were given §7 stk. 2 or §7 stk. 3 you can make a complaint to the Refugee Appeals Board. There is no time limit for handing in a complaint. We recommend that you get help from us or another NGO with your complaint.
Yes. In the first place the permit is always temporary, and you can lose it, until you get a permanent residence permit. You must be sure to apply for extension before it expires (check the dates in your permit). Normally it will be extended without problems, but it takes around 7 months. During that period you must ask permission for re-entry if you leave Denmark.
You can also lose it if: - it turns out that it was given under false pretences
- you have travelled to your home country (if the permit is under section/§ 7 or 8 of the Danish Alien Act)
- you have stayed too long outside of Denmark
- you were granted asylum because of general conditions in your home country which have later changed
- you got permission on family reunification and you are no longer living with the family member
- you commit a crime leading to a conviction of expulsion
Yes. If you have been granted stay in Denmark because of family reunification, work permit, study permit or other grounds, you can still apply for asylum. Maybe you have the same problems that your spouse had when asking asylum, or maybe something happened after you left. This will ensure you more rights, and you will be more independent.
You must go to Sandholm in person and apply with the police there (go on a weekday during office hours, they are not always there). If you live far from Sandholm, you can also go to a local police station, but it must be a big one where they have the equipment for photo and fingerprints. Bring your Danish ID papers.
You don't have to stay in an asylum camp during the process if you tell them you prefer to stay where you are. You will then be called in for an interview in Sandholm later.
It is very important that you apply for extension ("forlængelse") before your permit expires, otherwise you will lose it. It is free from fees for refugees, and in most cases the extension will be granted without problems, providing you have applied in time. But if you have asylum on §7,2 or §7,3, you might lose it if the situation in your home country has improved. If you have permission to stay because of family reunification, normally you must still be living with your spouse to keep it (but there are a few exceptions, contact us if in doubt).
You must extend it online with your NemID here.
All kinds of residence permits are temporary at first and must be extended before expiring. When you have been here legally for 8 years, you can apply for permanent residency (after 4 years if you can meet all the demands, which is exceptional).
It will not be granted automatically – you must fulfil the criteria at the time of applying. Children can not apply, as their status will follow their parents. See the criteria here, and in more detalil on nyidanmark).
Citizenship can only be granted after obtaining permanent residency, and the criteria are a little different, read more here. Children have easier access to citizenship, and they can also get it when one of their parents get it, or if they would otherwise be stateless.
There are fees for applying for both, also for refugees.
Yes, but you might loose the special integration support if you move during the first 3 years. If you get married to somebody in another kommune, one of them must accept both of you and continue the integration program. If you find a job, or if you have completed language school, there is no reason not to move – but the kommune will not be responsible for helping you to find a place to live. You will be in the same position as a Danish person who decides to move.
If you suffer from trauma, anxiety, depression or other mental problems, you must tell your family doctor about it. He/she can refer you to professional examination and list you for proper treatment. Many doctors don't see the signs if they are not used to meeting refugees, and many refugees are hiding their problems, thinking it will pass in time. Trauma tends to get worse if they are not treated, so ask for help right from the start. Some physical problems can also be caused or worsened by mental problems.
It is not as easy as most people think. Asylum status or family reunification is tied to the country which has given it, and free movement is only for EU citizens. It is, however, possible to stay for up to 3 months in another EU country in order to look for a job. If you want to move from Denmark to another country, it depends on the rules in that country whether you can be granted stay because of work, study or family reunification.
We can't help with this; you must find information about the country you want to move to – for example on the official websites of that country.
All newcomers are only entitled to the very low "intregrationsydelse" which is almost impossible to survive on. You can see rates and budgets here.
Depending on your expenses and whether you have other special issues, the kommune can give you extra support (§34 Aktivloven) and the state can grant you support for your rent ("boligydelse"). The kommune should also cover transport expenses to language school. You can ask the kommune for help with dentist bills, and even a drivers license if it's a part of your plan to get a job.
And did you know that if you get a fine (traffic, public transport etc.) you can ask to have it reduced if your income is below 165.000 a year? Contact the ones who issued the fine.
When you move into your new home in the kommune, they have to help with extra money for basic furniture, cooking equipment etc, "etableringsstøtte". But the amount is not set by the state, so each kommune can choose the amount. Usually, it will be around 5.000 DKR, and if your family arrives later, the kommune will not always pay extra for more beds and other furniture. If you need furniture, clothes or other things, try to ask your local Venligboer-group for help.
Families with children in Denmark normally get a fixed support amount for each child, depending on the age of the child, "børnefamilieydelse". This support is not paid in full to refugee families, but will gradually reach the full amount after 2 years.
Refugees who reach the age of retirement (usually 67 years) are not entitled to pension ("folkepension") unless they have been in Denmark for most of their lives, but will still be receiving Integrationsydelse. It is, however, possible to be granted pension on grounds of not being able to work after reaching the age of 30 if you have a chronic disease ("førtidspension"). The best solution for economic problems is, of course, finding a job.
It is also a good idea to get an education (see next question) as this will improve your chances of a good income on the long run.
Yes, and this is, unfortunately, something the kommune might not tell you. The best thing about Denmark is the free education system!
As a refugee with §7,1 or §7,2 (under the Danish Alien Act) you have full access to any education. Of course, many educations are in Danish, so that might be a problem for newcomers. But there are educations in English also. Contact the education places directly to learn about access.
Read much more on this webpage: Student Refugees
If you have §7,3 or humanitarian residence there is one limitation: university is not free (but other educations are).
Refugees are not automatically entitled to SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte, education allowance), but you can apply and you will normally get it if you are under the Integration Program (read more here).
It is allowed to work on the side (up to a certain amount), which could easily leave you with a higher total income than Integrationsydelse or IGU.
Education is a huge advantage when looking for jobs later: higher pay and more job offers.
Even before you get asylum, you should prepare the application to save important waiting time. But you can only hand in the application after you got asylum – do it as fast as possible. And if you were granted asylum on §7,3, you must wait 3 years before applying (see the question: Can I change my status?) unless you are an unaccompanied minor.
First, you must choose the right form. Get help if you are not fluent in English or Danish. Download our guide here (it is in English, Arabic, Farsi, Tigrinya or Danish). Then you fill out the form, attach copies of all the documents that are required and hand it in to Immigration Service (in person or by post). If your spouse is in a country with a Danish representation, he/she must hand in his/her part of the form there.
After a short time you will receive a confirmation in your e-Boks, and the total waiting time will be maximum 12 months. In many cases, Immigration Service will ask you for more information – for instance, if a passport or an address is missing, if they need some answers to specific questions, or they might ask for DNA-test to prove the family tie.
For refugees, the application is free of charge, but you must pay for official translation if you need it, and for the visa fee at the embassy and the flight tickets if you get the permission.
As a rule, only your spouse and children under 18 years will be allowed. In certain cases, children above 18 can be included, but normally not. If you are an adult, your brothers and sisters under 18 years can be allowed if you have been a substitute for the parents before you arrived in Denmark.
If you are under 18, you can get permission for your parents and siblings under 18, but it depends on your age – in many cases, they will say no if you were 15 or more at the time you applied, or if you already have a family member in Denmark to take care of you.
Refugees have the right to family reunification, so all the requirements for Danish people do not have to be met (24-year rule, self-support, bank guarantee etc.). But a marriage must be recognized according to Danish law, and if it's not, you must have been living together for a certain period to get a permit on grounds of cohabitation instead.
If you and your spouse are related, it will be considered an arranged marriage, and you will have to prove that you married each other of your own free will.
For children, it must be proved that the children are really yours, for adopted children they must be officially adopted, and for children of a former spouse you must have the custody and the child must have been part of your recent household.
It has been up to 2 years for many cases between 2015 and 2017, but recently the time goal has been set to 12 months in total. This may rise again if more refugees will arrive in the future. To make things go faster, you can start preparing everything before you get asylum (the forms, documents and translations).
If it says in the permission that you have been granted permission because of cohabitation (samliv) and the marriage was not recognized, the two of you can get married again in Denmark if you want.
When both of you have CPR-numbers and NemID, you log into borger.dk and choose your kommune - Familie og børn - Ægteskab og parforhold - Når I vil giftes. You must fill out the form and attach a copy of the permit from Immigration Service. Then you will get a reply from your kommune, and you can choose where and how to marry.
You have 8 weeks to make a complaint. It must be handed in to the Immigration Board (Udlændingenævnet).
It doesn't have to be done by a lawyer, but it's a good idea to get help from somebody who has experience. There are local branches of Dansk Flygtningehjælp and free legal aid in many libraries. You can also get help from us in Refugees Welcome and from Jurarådgivningen or CePi.
If the complaint is rejected again, the next step is the Danish courts. A lawyer might take the case of a basic fee and ask for state support if you can't pay, but the process is long. We can recommend good lawyers if you want to take your case to the courts.
It is very hard, almost impossible, for a refugee to get a visa for a family member to Denmark, if the person is still in the home country. But if the person has legal stay in for instance USA or Canada, it is easier. The visa rules for a number of countries are very strict because Denmark suspects the visitor to ask for asylum once they arrive. You can see the visa rules and fees here.
Examples of two Syrian men, who both have asylum on §7,1 in Denmark (to illustrate the assessment of marriage and family life):
A had a girlfriend in Syria, and they wanted to get married but couldn't because of the war. He mentioned her in his asylum interview. They stayed in contact with each other over phone and internet. She fled to Turkey, he met her there shortly after he got asylum in Denmark, and they got married following the official Turkish rules. They applied for family reunification, and they got permission because they already established their relationship before he left the country, and they could document being in contact with each other during the whole time.
B knew a girl in Syria, and after he arrived in Denmark they started chatting on the internet and decided to get married. He did not mention her in his asylum case. One year after he got asylum, they met in Turkey and got married. He went back and applied for family reunification. They got rejection, and Immigration Service wrote that there had never been a relationship outside the internet, and the marriage was mainly for the purpose of getting a residence permit in Denmark.
The state or kommune does not help with this expense, unfortunately. And the banks will not give you a loan. So you have to raise the money by private loans and donations from friends. Some refugees managed to get enough together by posting a photo of their family on Facebook and give a number to MobilePay, urging friends to pay a small amount each.
Be aware that the kommune might stop your allowances if you suddenly have 10.000 Dkr in your own account, even if it was collected for the tickets.
Don't ever take a loan from motorcycle gangs, criminal groups or quick loan companies – you will get in trouble with high interests, fees and punishment.
Refugees Welcome has a program to support refugees on integrationsydelse who got a permission. We offer a support of 1.000 Dkr per child (nothing for adults). But it depends on how much we collect – so there can be a waiting list at times. Contact us for more information.
To reopen your case at the Refugee Appeals Board (takes 12 months, average) you need: 1) New important information, not available at the time of the rejection and not previously presented to the board 2) Proof of something that the Board did not believe 3) Radical change of the situation in your home country or 4) Change of practice in the Board for cases similar to yours. Very few cases are reopened.
International/European complaint (takes up to 2 years): Could be a second chance, if a lawyer/Danish Refugee Council/Refugees Welcome agree that the case is a wrong decision and it has a chance in one of these systems. But it's a long and heavy process, and the lawyer must do it for free as there is no support for it.
If none of this is possible, your best option is to sign the form for voluntary return, and make a plan B for your return. If not, you will be sent to a deportation camp, you risk being sent to prison and deported.
It is not possible to seek asylum in another EU member state, when you already have a negative decision. Normally you will be sent back to Denmark as according to the Dublin Regulation. A few cases have been opened again in other countries, but they are very rare.
Maybe you consider going to another country outside of the EU, but this is not possible, as that country must accept to receive you. For example, you are a citizen from Congo and you are afraid that you will be arrested at the airport in Congo. You have a brother in Uganda where you could stay – but if the Danish authorities ask Uganda to accept you, the Ugandan embassy will say no because you are not their citizen.
After the final rejection, you will be moved to the return center Avnstrup, and the police will call you in and ask you to sign a contract: accepting that you will return to your home country voluntarily and will help actively to make this happen. The contract is in Danish but will normally be translated by an interpreter at the meeting. If there is a discussion about which country you could be sent to, make sure it is noted in the report which country you accept returning to.
The contract is not legally binding – if you change your mind, you can just stop cooperating anytime. The police will not send you out without a warning.
Signing the contract and collaborating with the police will give you a number of benefits, such as being allowed to stay in a normal camp, receiving pocket money and planning the return. Another advantage is that the police might just put you on a plane to your destination alone, whereas if they deport you, they will escort you and hand you over to the authorities at the airport. This puts more attention on you when you arrive, and could make it more dangerous for you.
Signing the contract is not enough, though. The police must also believe that you tell the truth about your identity and work actively to return – for instance by contacting your embassy or family to get travel documents.
If you don't sign it and collaborate actively, you will get a 2 years ban on entry to the Schengen area. You will be moved to a deportation camp (Kærshovedgård for single persons, Sjælsmark for families), where you have a duty to report and to spend every night, and you will not receive pocket money. The police might come and take you to prison or deport you without warning.
Signing the contract is also a requirement if you want to work while you are still in phase 2. Again; it is not legally binding so you can do it and maybe stop the cooperation later.
Only if you sign the contract, and if the police believe that you are really doing your best to make the return happen. See above. If you have a job which meets the criteria on Beløbsordningen or Positivlisten, you can apply for a permit to stay for that reason.
Normally, no. As a rule, you can only get married if you have a passport and a valid visa. But you can ask for dispensation if you have been in Denmark for more than 3 years and had a relationship to the person for more than 18 months – or if you are expecting a child together. In that case, ask the marriage office in the kommune where the person with residence permit is living. Read more here (in Danish).
But getting a residence permit on family reunification is even harder than getting married, because you normally have to apply from your home country. And if it's a Danish person you marry, there are a lot of criteria to meet. Some couples have been able to use the EU-rules for family reunification, going to Sweden and get registered there as a couple first. But this is not an easy option.
We don't recommend living underground, as it often has negative effects on your case and your mental health. You will not be allowed to have your case reopened as long as you are underground, and when you show up and ask to get back in the system, you could be taken to prison for some time.
Many shelters will not accept you when you don't have a Danish social security card/CPR number.
You don't get any kind of allowances, and only access to hospitals and doctors in emergency cases. You can, however, get access to doctors and midwives in one of the clinics for undocumented, run by Red Cross in Copenhagen and Århus. To get the address to the clinic: contact us in RW, or the clinic directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 3171 6164.