Strict immigration regulations: IT specialist living in Denmark considers moving to Canada

8. november 2022 kl. 15:06
Strict immigration regulations: IT specialist living in Denmark considers moving to Canada
BI specialist Darui Li is currently preparing for a possible future in Canada, which has a skilled worker program. Illustration: Bigstock.
If Darui Li wants to live with his Chinese spouse, they must settle outside Denmark or wait until the end of 2023, when the couple will be able to meet the Danish integration requirements.
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Approximately three to four times a month, 31-year-old Darui Li is contacted by headhunters with attractive job offers in both Denmark and abroad.

As a business intelligence specialist, he is one of the sought-after IT professionals companies are hungry for.

But he is also one of the specialists Denmark is at risk of losing due to its immigration regulations.

Darui Li moved to Denmark from China at the age of 11, together with the rest of his family, when his father got a job as a researcher at the University of Copenhagen.

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When the family travelled back to China in 2017, Darui Li chose to stay in order to, among other things, study at the University of Copenhagen, where he earned a master’s degree in nanoscience.

For the past two years, he has worked as an SAP business intelligence consultant at the IT consulting agency Innologic.

Stuck in a strange situation

Although Darui Li has lived “on and off” in Denmark for the past 20 years and has a permanent residence permit, he is currently preparing for a possible future in Canada.

Not because he has received a job offer that is too good to refuse, but because, as it seems right now, he cannot get his Chinese wife to join him in Denmark because they do not meet the Danish integration requirements.

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“I am in the process of looking at different schemes in other countries, for example in Canada, where both my wife and I can get a permanent residence permit because they have a skilled worker programme,” Darui Li says.

He is also considering renouncing his Chinese citizenship and becoming a Danish citizen instead, because then he would be able to move to another country in Europe, from where he can apply for EU family reunification with his wife.

However, no longer being a Chinese citizen may present other challenges when going to China and visiting the rest of his family.

The last option, however, is to just wait.

Because at the end of 2023, Darui Li will have been employed full-time for five years in Denmark, and thus the couple will together fulfil four of the six integration requirements. According to the Danish Immigration Service, the expected maximum processing time for family reunification cases is nine months.

“I find myself in a strange situation because of all that legislation, and they (politicians, ed.) make it extremely difficult for someone like me to be able to stay here. I have seriously thought about moving to another country,” Darui Li says.

Darui Li has lived in Denmark for 20 years but is now considering moving to another country where he can live with his Chinese wife. Illustration: Privat.

Politicians are aware of the issue

Ingeniøren has previously written about how political barriers can make it difficult to both attract and retain STEM professionals who want to work in Denmark. For example, Danish energy scientist Mads Rønne Almassalkhi cannot live in Denmark with his family because his American wife cannot get a residence permit, and it took Indian mechanical engineer Sparshdeep Mouriya four months to get the necessary permits to come to Denmark and work in Rambøll—despite the fact that the engineering company is part of the so-called Fast Track Scheme, which is supposed to make it faster and easier to bring in qualified labour from abroad to Denmark.

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Several parties such as the Moderates, Liberal Alliance, and the Danish Social Liberal Party indicated both before and during the election campaign that they want to make it easier for foreign workers to come to Denmark, and that the regulations have over time become so strict that they are no longer suitable. For example, Liberal Alliance’s leader, Alex Vanopslagh, has called the immigration law “ridiculous” and “unreasonable” in a statement to DR. Liberal Alliance and the Danish Social Liberal Party have expressed to Ingeniøren that they want to change the family reunification regulations for Danish citizens—Ingeniøren has subsequently asked if this also applies to those with permanent residence.

Danish integration requirements

A condition for obtaining a residence permit is that the resident and the applicant spouse collectively meet four out of a total of six integration-related conditions. However, one of the conditions is not optional, and it is the condition that the resident spouse must meet the requirement for knowledge of the Danish language. This therefore means that the couple—in addition to the requirement for knowledge of the Danish language—must meet at least three of the other five conditions, which are the following:

  • The resident spouse needs to have worked full-time in Denmark for at least five years

  • The resident spouse needs at least six years of schooling—out of these six years, at least one year must be at a secondary school

  • The applicant needs to have either knowledge of the Danish language or the English language at a certain level

  • The applicant needs to have worked full-time for at least three of the past five years

  • The applicant needs to have completed at least one year of education

Liberal Alliance’s chief press officer, Peter Bollerup Andersen, elaborates in a written comment that Liberal Alliance’s political stance is that it should be very easy for Danish citizens to obtain spousal reunification and difficult for foreigners.

“In our opinion, the spouses of foreigners should come here on business schemes or similar. There are certainly limitations in terms of conventions on how far we go down that path, and we must therefore set up the regulations wisely to achieve the intended effect of the policy,” it also reads.

The Danish Social Liberal Party has not replied.

Denmark’s Liberal Party has also expressed in an interview with TV2 that they would like to change the regulations for family reunification, just like the Social Democratic Party said to Politiken that they are willing to relax the immigration policy “to help the group that has been inadvertently caught in a pinch.”

English exam is scheduled

If Darui Li was to decide for himself, he would prefer to live with his wife in Denmark.

“I have now lived here for such a long time and all my friends are here, and I recognize many of the Danish values. There is a reason why I chose to stay in Denmark, and it’s not just for fun,” he says.

He is currently preparing for an English exam, which will enable him to prove that his language skills are good enough to get residency in Canada.

And while he is not sure that he will move to Canada if he gets his residency, it is good to keep the options open because he has heard “story after story” of people who meet the integration requirements but are still denied due to some technicality, he says.

“In the end, it doesn’t matter how much I want to live in Denmark if my wife can’t come here. I also need my family to be here.”

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