Conditions for asylum seekers
: Due to new regulations, the information on these pages concerning asylum seekers conditions is currently being updated. Please see the pages in Danish for information on the new rules.
Applicants for asylum residing in Denmark will normally receive a cash allowance from the Immigration Service to cover their expenses.
This does not apply, however, if the applicant is married to a person who holds a Danish residence permit. In such cases, the spouse in Denmark is obliged to support the applicant.
The Immigration Service's support covers:
- Cash allowances (and/or free meals, if the applicant is staying at an accommodation centre with a cafeteria service which the applicant is covered by)
- housing at an accommodation centre.
- necessary healthcare and social services.
- school for children.
- school and other activities for adults.
- transport to and from meetings with the authorities, hospitals, etc.
Cash allowances are categorised in the following manner:
A basic allowance which covers expenses for food, personal hygiene items, etc.
A supplementary allowance for asylum seekers who live up to the terms of their contract with the accommodation centre.
A caregiver allowance for asylum seekers with children.
Read more about allowances and current amounts.
An asylum seeker over 18 must make an agreement – a contract – with the accommodation centre to which they are attached. The contract states which courses and activities the asylum seeker is to participate in and which tasks he or she will be responsible for at the centre. If an asylum seeker refuses to comply with the terms of the contract with the centre, the Immigration Service can decide to reduce the cash allowance.
Asylum seekers over the age of 18, who have not received a final rejection of their application for asylum, must participate in courses designed to maintain and augment both their general skills, as well as their trade or professional skills. The courses are held at, or in association with, the accommodation centre.
Newly arrived asylum seekers must participate in an introductory course at the centre. When the initial case review is completed and it has been decided that the asylum seeker's application is to be processed in Denmark, the applicant must participate in courses designed to prepare him or her for life in his/her country of origin. The reason is that a considerable part of applications for asylum are turned down. Applicants may be offered English language courses, language courses in their own mother tongue, as well as vocational courses designed to help them find employment or start a business in their country of origin.
An applicant must begin attending courses within a maximum of three months after applying for asylum. An average of 10 hours per week is used for courses. Seventeen-year-old asylum seekers may also participate in courses.
If an asylum seeker is granted a Danish residence permit, he or she will be offered intensive Danish language courses until being relocated to the municipality where he or she is to live.
Children between the ages of 6 and 17 will be offered special courses either at, or in affiliation with, the accommodation centre. Children will be taught Danish, English, and the other subjects taught in the Danish primary school (Folkeskole). The number of class hours per week will correspond to that of the equivalent class in the Danish primary school. Read more about integration.
Job activation and work
Asylum seekers may not work in Denmark unless they have a residence and work permit. An asylum seeker with a work contract or work permit for a job covered by the Positive List can apply for a residence permit on those grounds.
All asylum seekers over the age of 18 are obliged to assist with daily tasks at their centre, e.g. cleaning their own rooms, common areas, kitchen areas, and bathrooms. In addition to these tasks, asylum seekers may help with other tasks at the centre (internal activation), e.g. helping personnel with routine office work and the upkeep and reparation of buildings, furnishings, and common areas. Asylum seekers who are still awaiting a decision about whether their applications will be processed in Denmark, may perform only internal activation tasks. The same also applies for asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and who are refusing to co-operate with the police over their departure.
Asylum seekers whose applications are to be processed in Denmark may participate in both internal activation, as well as unpaid job training programmes at a company not affiliated with the accommodation centre (external activation). Applicants can also participate in unpaid humanitarian work or any other form of volunteer work.
If asylum seekers do not live up to their contracts with accommodation centres, a reduction of allowances can be made equivalent to the number of days the tasks have not been performed. Read more about allowances and current amounts.
Healthcare for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers and foreign nationals without legal residence in Denmark are not covered by the Danish national health service. Instead, expenses for their healthcare and dental care are covered by the Immigration Service.
Asylum seeksers under the age of 18 are entitled to the same healthcare as children who are residents of Denmark. In the case of adult asylum seekers, the Immigration Service covers the expenses for healthcare, provided it is:
- necessary (as opposed to cosmetic).
- urgent (treatment cannot be postponed)
In other words, the Immigration Service will cover the expenses for treatment which relieves pain or which cannot be postponed because there is a risk of permanent injury, development or progression of a condition, or a risk that a condition may become chronical.
Furthermore, asylum seekers can be referred to several types of treatment by the health staff at the accommodation centre, such as consultations with a general practitioner, initial consultations with psychologists, psychiatrists, midwives and medical specialists.
Asylum seekers from countries with minimal risk of persecution
Special conditions apply for asylum seekers from countries with a minimal risk of persecution. Such applicants' cases are processed according to the expedited version of the 'manifestly unfounded' procedure. Read more about processing of applications for asylum.
Asylum seekers from such countries who are housed at accommodation centres with a cafeteria service do not receive cash allowances of any kind, as they receive free meals at the centre.
Asylum seekers at other accommodation centres where meals are not provided will receive cash allowances to buy food.
Asylum seekers from countries with a minimal risk of persecution will not receive any supplementary allowances, whether they are staying at an accommodation centre which has cafeteria service or not. Read more about allowances and current amounts.
The 'food allowance' programme
If an asylum seeker does not live up to the obligations specified in the Aliens Act, the Immigration Service can place him or her, as well as his/her family members, on the 'food allowance' programme.
The programme is primarily intended for cases where an asylum seeker has received the final rejection of his or her application for a Danish residence permit, has not left the country by the set deadline, and is refusing to co-operate with the police over his/her departure.
Being placed on the programme means that supplementary allowances earned through such activities as activation will cease to be paid. The caregiver allowance for asylum seekers with children will also be reduced. This means that applicants will only receive the basic allowance for food.
Families with children under the age of 18 will receive a so-called child package every 14 days per child, regardless of age. The child package contains fruit, soft drinks and a few sweets.
In extraordinary cases, the Immigration Service can set aside the rules of the programme. For example, exemptions may be made in cases involving unaccompanied children or persons with a life-threatening illness.
The Immigration Service can remove asylum seekers from the 'food allowance' programme if they choose to co-operate with police on their departure, if their departure deadline is postponed, or if their case is re-opened. Asylum seekers removed from the programme will once again receive their supplementary allowances and have their caregiver allowance increased.
Asylum seekers placed on the 'food allowance' programme by the Immigration Service can appeal this decision to the Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs.
Read more about allowances and current amounts.
A relocation order is used as a motivator primarily in cases where asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected refuse to leave the country.
If an asylum seeker has been on the 'food allowance' programme for four weeks and still refuses to co-operate with the police over his/her departure, the police can recommend to the Immigration Service that he or she be transferred to a departure centre. The Immigration Service will then make a ruling regarding relocation, which will be announced to the asylum seeker by the police.
A relocation order also applies to any children under the age of 18.
When the Immigration Service decides to carry out a relocation order, the asylum seeker and his/her family will be immediately moved to a departure centre. If the asylum seeker refuses to abide by the relocation order, he or she can be detained by the police. Read more about departure centres.
The Immigration Service can remove the relocation order if the asylum seeker chooses to co-operate with police over his/her departure, if his/her departure deadline is postponed, or if his/her case is re-opened.
Asylum seekers who have their relocation orders removed will once again have their caregiver allowance increased and have the possibility of earning the supplementary allowance. They will be offered to move back to a normal accommodation centre.
The cost to the state of housing of asylum seekers in 2010 is expected to total DKK 522.3 million. That is the equivalent of approximately DKK 229,600 per asylum seeker for one year's accommodation.