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Application for asylum

An asylum seeker who enters Denmark and applies for asylum is called a spontaneous asylum seeker.

Before an application for asylum is processed

When a spontaneous asylum seeker enters Denmark, he/she must contact the police. It is the responsibility of the National Aliens Division to establish the nationality and identity of the asylum seeker. The National Aliens Division will fingerprint and photograph the asylum seeker, and record an official statement from him/her, including a description of how he/she travelled to Denmark.

The European Union has adopted the Dublin Regulation which establishes in which country an application for asylum filed in an EU country should be processed. According to the terms of the Regulation, an asylum application can be processed in one EU country only. If an asylum seeker has been in contact with authorities in another EU country before coming to Denmark, his/her asylum application may not be processed in Denmark. Instead, the asylum seeker will be sent to the country of first registration, where his/her application will be processed.

Alternatively, the asylum seeker may be referred to a 'safe third country' for processing. An asylum seeker may be refused in Denmark and sent back to such a country if he/she has resided there prior to arriving in Denmark. 'Safe third countries' include Switzerland, the United States, and Canada.

During the processing of an asylum case, the asylum seeker is normally assigned to an accommodation centre. Accommodation centres are spread throughout Denmark. Most are operated by the Danish Red Cross. In some cases, asylum seekers may be allowed private accommodation. Read more about accommodation centres.

Processing an application for asylum

If the Immigration Service decides that an asylum application can be processed in Denmark, the Immigration Service will then determine whether or not asylum can be granted. The asylum seeker will be asked to fill out an application form in which he/she can explain in more specific terms the reason why he/she is seeking asylum in Denmark. Thereafter, the Immigration Service will interview the applicant, assisted by an interpreter. During the course of the interview, the asylum seeker has the opportunity to further clarify why he/she is applying for asylum in Denmark.

Following the interview, the Immigration Service will rule in the case, based on a factual and individual assessment of all relevant information pertaining to the case. The Immigration Service will consider the statement provided by the asylum seeker, as well as general information about conditions in the asylum seeker's country of origin. In most cases, this will be sufficient to make a ruling in the case. However, there may be instances where the Immigration Service requires additional information, e.g. if there is doubt regarding conditions in a specific country. Read more about information about countries.

Three procedures

Most cases are processed according to normal procedure. This means that if the application for asylum is rejected, the case is referred to the Refugee Appeals Board which will make the final ruling in the case.

A minority of cases are considered manifestly unfounded. This means that the Immigration Service assesses that the applicant is clearly not eligible for asylum. These cases are sent to the Danish Refugee Council (NGO), which will make a statement on the case. If the Danish Refugee Council agrees with the Immigration Service that the application is manifestly unfounded, the application will be rejected without contest. If, on the other hand, the Danish Refugee Council disagrees, the Immigration Service will generally maintain its rejection of the application, but will refer the case to the Refugee Appeals Board for a final ruling.

In certain cases, asylum applications are processed according to an expedited version of the manifestly unfounded procedure. This happens when the asylum seeker comes from a country where, according to the most up-to-date information available, it is unlikely that he/she would risk persecution. In these cases, the asylum seeker will not be asked to fill out an application form, and he/she is quickly referred for an interview with the Immigration Service. The Danish Refugee Council will then give a statement on the case. If this is in accordance with the ruling of the Immigration Service, the application will be rejected as soon as possible.

In the case of both the manifestly unfounded procedure and the expedited version of the manifestly unfounded procedure, the applicant will have to leave Denmark immediately.

If an asylum seeker is granted asylum

If an asylum seeker is granted asylum, he/she will live in Denmark. The Immigration Service will decide where in Denmark a refugee is to live.

If an asylum seeker is rejected

If an asylum seeker receives a final rejection, he/she must leave Denmark. The Refugee Appeals Board will set a seven day deadline to leave Denmark, except for urgent cases where the asylum seeker must leave Denmark immediately. However, the asylum seeker will be granted adequate time to prepare for departure. Authorities will make allowances if the asylum seeker is suffering from acute illness, is in an advanced stage of pregnancy, or has given birth shortly before the final ruling. A final rejection means that the applicant has no more avenues available to appeal the ruling. Rejections delivered by the Refugee Appeals Board, or by the Immigration Service in the case of 'manifestly unfounded' cases, are regarded as final. If a rejected asylum seeker refuses to leave Denmark voluntarily, it is the responsibility of the National Aliens Division to ensure his/her departure.


Asylum seekers who are ordered to leave Denmark immediately, or who do not leave voluntarily in accordance with their given deadline, risk being expelled and given an entry ban. To be expelled from Denmark means they will be banned from entering all EU and Schengen countries, including Denmark, for a minimum of two years. If an asylum seeker is expelled, he/she may be deported by the police.

Rejected asylum seekers who do not leave Denmark voluntarily in accordance with their given deadline, will be given a two-year entry ban, and in repeated cases, a five-year entry ban, by the Immigration Service. An entry ban can be revoked in special cases, such as to protect the unity of the family.

Residence permit on other grounds

If substantial humanitarian considerations warrant it, the Ministry of Justice has the authority to grant a temporary residence permit to an asylum seeker whose application for asylum has been rejected. Very few permits of this type are granted.

Highly qualified professionals

If an asylum seeker has a special education or special qualifications and has been offered work in his/her field, it is possible to apply for a residence and work permit on these grounds if the education or professional field is included on the Positive List. The Positive List is a list of professions and fields currently experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark. Read more about the Positive List.

If an asylum seeker has been offered a highly paid job, he/she can apply for a residence and work permit under the Pay Limit scheme. There are no specific requirements with regards to education, field or the specific nature of the job. Read more about the Pay Limit scheme.

In both cases, the asylum seeker must have a written job contract or job offer which specifies salary and employment conditions. Salary and employment conditions must correspond to Danish standards.

If an asylum seeker wishes to apply for a residence and work permit under the Positive List or the Pay Limit scheme, it is crucial that he/she submits the application during the processing of his/her asylum case. If the case has been processed and has resulted in the application for asylum being turned down, it is too late to apply for a residence and work permit from Denmark. Instead, the applicant will have to leave Denmark and submit his/her application via a Danish diplomatic mission.

Last update: 12/11/2013
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Published by: The Danish Immigration Service
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