New rules regarding application for work and residence permits in Denmark

By Soeren Narv Pedersen, Mia Boesen


As of 10 June 2016 the rules known as "the green card scheme" and "the pay limit scheme" have been changed so that the green card scheme has been repealed and the minimum amount of the pay limit scheme has been increased.

The new rules and background for the repeal 

In Denmark it is required that all citizens from countries outside of the EU/EEA have a work and residence permit to be allowed to work and live in Denmark. You can apply for this permit in a number of ways depending on the specific situation of each applicant. Two of the most frequently used models were/are "the green card scheme" and "the pay limit scheme".

The green card scheme was introduced in 2007 with the purpose of attracting more qualified workers to Denmark in a time of economic boom and shortage of qualified workers. In 2008 the scheme was extended with a supplementary job plan. The green card scheme provided third country citizens with the possibility to obtain a residence permit which allowed them to apply for a job. The applicant was evaluated on the basis of a point system and given points for language proficiencies, education etc.  

The pay limit scheme provides third country citizens who have been offered a well-paid job with an easy access to the Danish job market. There are no specific  requirements for education, profession or the nature of the position; it is a certain yearly minimum income that is required.  

According to the new rules, the green card scheme is repealed as of 10 June 2016, whereas the minimum yearly income requirement under the pay limit scheme is increased from DKK 375,000 to DKK 400,000.

The reason for the repeal of the green card scheme is that it has not had the intended impact which was to attract highly qualified workers to be employed within their educational area. Almost half of the green card holders are working as unskilled workers and only one third are working within their original education area as intended.  

As mentioned, the changes have entered into force on 10 June 2016 which means that it is no longer possible to apply for a green card or to apply for a job with a lower yearly salary than DKK 400,000 according to the pay limit scheme.

Green card holders who have been granted a residence permit on the basis of an application submitted before 10 June 2016 can be granted an extension of their residence permit if they fulfill the requirements for an extension.

Accompanying family members of green card holders can still apply for a residence permit and extension of residence permits. This applies for accompanying family members who are applying for a residence permit both before and after 10 June 2016. 

Bird & Bird's comments:

As a consequence of the new rules, there is now one less possibility for a third country citizen to apply for a Danish work and residence permit and at the same time, even higher requirements apply for the already much used pay limit scheme.

Obviously this means that Danish companies will have an even harder time attracting qualified workers as the process of obtaining a work and residence permit will become even harder for the foreign applicants.

Bird & Bird has great experience in applying for work and residence permits and can assist you and the company in choosing which kind of permit to apply for. Furthermore, as an agent, we can assist with the actual application process.



Mia Boesen

Mia Boesen


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