Bill to amend the Danish Aliens Act to strengthen international recruitment now proposed

On 9 February 2023, a bill[1] amending the Aliens Act was proposed. The aim is to strengthen international recruitment and thus make it easier for Danish companies to recruit foreign workers from non-EU/EEA countries. The bill is an implementation of the political agreement "Strengthened international recruitment", which was concluded in June 2022 between the previous government and a number of parties.

The bill proposes to amend several rules in the Immigration Act - below are the specific amendments. It is proposed that the Act enters into force on 1 April 2023.

1) Supplementary pay limit scheme

In order to support the Danish economy in the current economic situation and to alleviate labour shortages, the bill proposes a new supplementary pay limit scheme to address labour shortages. Under the existing pay limit scheme, an employee must have an annual salary of at least DKK 465,000 (2023 level). This pay limit scheme will continue to apply.

It is proposed to introduce a new supplementary pay limit scheme whereby a residence permit may be granted on application if the foreign national has entered into an employment agreement or been offered employment in a professional field where the employment involves an annual salary of at least DKK 375,000.

In addition, it is a condition that the previous three months of seasonally adjusted gross unemployment at the time of application have not exceeded on average a level set by the Minister for Immigration and Integration[2], and that the company declares that the position at the time of application has been advertised on Jobnet and the EURES portal for at least two weeks.

2) Extension of the fast-track scheme

In order to give more companies access to the fast-track scheme, which allows for the rapid and flexible recruitment of third-country labour, the bill also proposes an extension of the fast- track scheme.

The extension is proposed to be implemented by reducing the requirement for the number of full-time employees that a company must have in order to be certified to use the fast-track scheme from at least 20 to at least 10 full-time employees in Denmark. It is the number of full-time employees at the time the company applies for certification that determines whether a company has 10 full-time employees. A company may therefore be certified even if it experiences a short-term drop in the number of employees after the application for certification has been submitted. However, it is a prerequisite for the renewal of a certification that the company again has at least 10 full-time employees in Denmark at the time of submitting the application for renewal.

As at present, it still has to be permanent employees, and temporary workers hired by the company may not be included when calculating the number of employees.

3) Better job opportunities after graduation

In order to send a clear and positive signal to foreign students that they are welcome to work in Denmark after they have completed their studies here, the bill also proposes that foreigners who complete a Danish bachelor's, professional bachelor's, master's or doctoral programme should be given an automatic three-year job-search period, which would give them access to work three years after completing their studies.

The proposal will replace the current establishment card scheme, which is thus proposed to be abolished at the same time.

4) Extension of the positive list

The bill also proposes to expand the positive list for higher education graduates to include more job titles and make it more predictable. This is proposed to be implemented by allowing the professional unemployment insurance funds, each within the boundaries of their professional areas, to introduce additional job titles to the positive list for the whole country within the professional area of each unemployment insurance fund, and by allowing the regional labour market councils to introduce additional job titles to the list for their respective regional areas, as well as to allow jobs on the positive list to be listed longer and only let them be removed from the positive list after two years at the earliest.

5) Extension of the Start-up Denmark scheme

Finally, the bill proposes to extend the Start-up Denmark scheme to allow a foreign business owner who wishes to open a branch in Denmark of an existing business to apply for a residence permit under Start-up Denmark, as well as to allow foreigners who have already established their own successful business in Denmark (e.g. while the foreigner had a different residence status) to apply for a residence permit through the Start-up Denmark scheme to run the business.

Bird & Birds comments

Bird & Bird has extensive experience in applying for work and residence permits and offers assistance in the application process - both in relation to advice on the rules and in relation to the actual handling of the application process itself.

[1] Bill No. L 46

[2] The original political agreement provided that no new residence permits could be granted under the supplementary scheme if the average seasonally adjusted gross unemployment rate of the previous three months exceeded 3.75%

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