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Working in Greenland

Applications for residence and work permit for foreign nationals who wish to work in Greenland are processed by the Danish Immigration Service and the Greenlandic Government (Naalakkersuisut).

Denmark and Greenland are two distinct travel areas. This means that a residence permit in Denmark does not carry with it the right to reside in Greenland. Likewise, a residence permit in Greenland does not carry with it the right to reside in Denmark.

On this page you can read about:

General requirements for residence and work permits
Exemption for the requirements
Large scale projects
The application
Family members
Extention of a residence permit 
Permanent residence permit
Termination of a residence permit
Lapse of a residence permit  
Appeal guidelines
Links

General requirements for residence and work permits

Responsibility for obtaining a residence and work permit.

It is the foreign national’s own responsibility to obtain a residence and work permit. If a foreign national works illegally in Greenland, he or she risks deportation and both the foreign worker and the employer risk consequences according to the Criminal Act for Greenland.

Conditions for a residence and work permit  

Normally professional or labour market considerations must warrant a residence and work permit. That could be the case if, for instance, there is a lack of qualified Greenlandic professionals in a particular field.

The rules also apply to volunteer/unpaid work.

When processing the application for residence and work permit, the Immigration Service will pay particular attention to the following:

  • whether there are available professionals residing in Greenland who are qualified to carry out the job in question (applies only to certain types of applications),
  • whether the nature of the job in question is specialised enough to warrant a residence and work permit,
  • whether the salary and employment conditions are customary for Greenland.

The applicant must send a written job contract or job offer, which specifies salary and employment conditions. The position must normally be a full-time position (40 hours/week).

The application will automatically be turned down if the applicant is reported as an undesirable in the Schengen Information System (SIS).

In some cases it is a requirement that the applicant has obtained a Greenlandic or Danish authorization. For example, a foreign trained doctor must be authorized by the Danish National Board of Health.

When the Immigration Service has received an application for residence and work permit, it will be sent to the Greenlandic Government, who will assess whether the salary and employment conditions are customary for Greenland.

Exemption for the requirements

Nordic Citizens

A citizen of a Nordic country, i.e. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden, is free to live, work and study in Greenland. Neither a visa, a residence permit nor a work permit is required.

Citizens of Nordic countries can enter Greenland without a passport. However, citizens of Nordic countries in Greenland must be able to identify themselves upon request. Such could be the case when checking in at a hotel. A driving license or debit card is a valid form of identification.
 
NOTICE – Greenland is not a member of the European Union (EU), and the EU-rules on free movement for EU/EØS citizens do not apply to Greenland. Applicants from these countries must therefore follow the same rules as every other foreign national. However, EU citizens are not required to apply for a visa.

Residence permit on another basis than Work

If a foreign national already holds a residence permit in Greenland on the grounds of family reunification, of asylum or on humanitarian grounds, he or she does not need a separate permit in order to be able to work in Greenland.

Other groups, not required to hold a work permit

The following groups can work without a work permit provided the duration of their stay does not exceed three consecutive months:

  • Researchers and lecturers invited to teach or lecture in Greenland,
  • Professional athletes, artists, excluding performers, restaurant musicians and similar,
  • Representatives of foreign companies or organizations, which do not have a branch office in Greenland, who are on business trips in Greenland,
  • Fitters, consultants or instructors hired to fit, install, inspect or repair machines, equipment, computer programmes or similar items, or provide information on the use of such items,
  • Individuals employed in the household of foreign nationals visiting Greenland for up to three months.

In order to be exempt from the requirement for residence and work permit, the stay in Greenland must not exceed three months. For stays over three months, members of the groups mentioned above must obtain a residence and work permit before the work starts.

Even if a member of the groups mentioned above does not need to obtain a residence and work permit, he or she is not exempt from visa regulations. In other words, he or she must obtain a short-term visa if he or she is a national in a country whose citizens need a visa to visit Greenland.

Especially for fitters, consultants and instructors

In order to be eligible under the rule for fitters, consultants and instructors, cf. the fourth point above, the foreign national must be employed to fit, install, maintain, repair or inform about the use of machines, equipment, computer programmes or other technical systems. These may include high-tech machines that must be installed by the personnel of a foreign company who are trained in the proper installation of such machines.

The foreign national must be employed in or affiliated with the company supplying the imported product and is expected to be a paid associate of the company. If he or she is employed in another company, the company that is supplying the product must have entered into an agreement with the employing company to supply the fitting.

The fact that a foreign company issues a guarantee for a given product under the condition that it is the company's own associates who will fit or install the product in Greenland does not in itself mean that the company's personnel will be eligible under the fitter rule.

Ordinary building, construction and craft work is not covered by the rule above. It follows from this that foreign nationals employed to set up, for example, a house, that has been fully or partly manufactured abroad, are required to have a residence and work permit.

Disassembly work, most frequently in connection to the disassembly of used technological equipment or machines, is not eligible under the rule. Work of this type requires the foreign national to have a residence and work permit.

In cases not involving fitting of a technical apparatus and/or when the work in itself can be defined as ordinary building, construction or craft work the foreign national must also have a residence and work permit.

Large scale projects in Greenland

Companies that wish to invest in large business projects in Greenland can be granted a large scale project approval by the Greenlandic Government. An approval entails that the company’s activities carried out in Greenland will be covered by special regulations in the Act on Large Scale Projects (in Danish), including special regulations for salary and employment conditions. In addition to the Act on Large Scale Projects regulations have been established on residence and work permits for foreign nationals who are employed by a large scale project company in the construction phase.
 
In the construction phase of a large scale project the Immigration Service can issue a residence and work permit to a foreign national who is employed for construction activities. Construction activities here understood as construction and related activities, not including canteen services, cleaning, local transport and similar work and services.

Read more about the conditions for residence and work permits in the construction phase of a large scale project.  

Read the Greenlandic Act on foreign nationals’ access to residence and work permits in the construction phase of a large scale project (in Danish).  

Applications for residence and work permits for foreign national employees of a large scale project company can be submitted after a particularly quick and smooth online application procedure or by using application form GL/AR1.

Online applications

The particularly quick and smooth online application procedure requires that a representative for the company fills out and submits the online application, including a power of attorney from the foreign national employee (the applicant). To use the online application form you have to be registered at the Immigration Service as a representative for a company that has obtained an approval as a large scale project by the Greenlandic authorities. Representatives for suppliers or sub suppliers to a company that has obtained an approval as a large scale project can also use the digital application.

Read about the registration of large scale project companies and the online application for residence permits for foreign national construction workers on a large scale project.

For further information

Contact the Immigration Service or the Greenlandic Government.

The application

If the applicant is an employee

If the applicant is applying for a residence and work permit as an employee (including researchers, athletes, tainees and religious workers), both the employee and the employer in Greenland (e.g. the company, research institute, sports club or religious group) must supply information for the processing of the application.

The employer in Greenland begins the application process by completing the employer part of the application form and attaching the required documents. The employer sends or gives the form and the attached documents to the employee, who then completes his or her part of the application form, attaches the required documents, and submits the entire application.

The employer and the employee must use one of the following applications depending on whether it is a first-time application or an application for an extension of a residence and work permit.

Application for a residence and work permit in Greenland
> GL/AR1

Application for an extension of a residence and work permit in Greenland
> GL/AR2

The application forms contain a detailed description of how it should be completed and which documents must included.

An application for a residence and work permit in Greenland is normally submitted at a Danish embassy or consulate in the foreign national’s home country. In certain exceptional situations, the application can be submitted at a police station in Greenland or at the Immigration Service's Citizen Service.

If the application is submitted to Citizen Service, the Immigration Service will ask the Greenlandic Government for a statement on whether the salary and employment conditions are customary for Greenland. 

Important information about passport

When applying for a residence permit, the foreign national must make sure that his or her passport is valid.

Please note that a residence permit can only be granted for up to two months before the applicant’s passport expires. In other words, if a foreign national’s passport expires in 12 months his or her residence permit can only be extended by ten months. National passports (a passport from the applicant’s country of origin) can be renewed by that particular country’s embassy or consulate general.

If the passport or travel documents are invalid, Immigration Service will ask the applicant to acquire a new passport or have the existing one renewed. The applicant will usually have one month to do this.  

The Immigration Service handles cases regarding renewing alien's passports and convention passports.

Family members

A spouse/registered partner/cohabiting partner, who wishes to accompany the foreign national to Greenland, must submit a separate application. If the foreign national has children under the age of 18, who wish to accompany the applicant to Greenland, they can be included in the spouse's/registered partner's/cohabiting partner's application.

Accompanying family members of a foreign national should complete the appropriate application form below, depending on whether they are first-time applicants or are applying for an extension of their residence permit:

Application for a residence permit in Greenland (accompanying family members of a foreign national who works or is to work in Greenland)
> GL/FA8

Application for an extension of a residence permit in Greenland (accompanying family members of a foreign national working in Greenland)
> GL/FA9 

The application forms contain a detailed description of how it should be completed and which documents must be included.

Important information about the family member’s passport  

When applying for a residence permit, the family member must make sure that his or her passport is valid.

Please note that a residence permit can only be granted for up to two months before the family member’s passport expires. In other words, if a foreign national’s passport expires in 12 months his or her residence permit can only be extended by ten months. National passport (a passport from the family member’s country of origin) can be renewed by that particular country’s embassy or consulate general.

If the passport or travel documents are invalid, the Immigration Service will ask the family member to acquire a new passport or have the existing one renewed. The applicant will usually have one month to do this.

The Immigration Service is responsible for renewing alien's passports and convention passports.

Extension of a residence permit

The conditions for a residence permit must be present throughout the stay in Greenland.

A residence permit based on a job in Greenland can be extended if the conditions continue to exist, including that salary and employment conditions are usual for Greenland.

Applying for an extension

An application for an extension should normally be submitted to a police station in Greenland or Denmark, or to the Immigration Service.

When processing the application for an extension of a residence and work permit, Immigration Service will pay particular attention to the following:

  • whether there are available professionals residing in Greenland who are qualified to carry out the job in question (applies only to certain types of applications),
  • whether the nature of the job in question is specialised enough to warrant a residence and work permit,
  • whether the salary and employment conditions are customary for Greenland.

The application form below must be used when applying for an extension of a residence permit:

Application for an extension of a residence and work permit in Greenland
> GL/AR2

The application form contains a detailed description of how it should be completed and which documents must be included.

A residence permit in Greenland may be extended up to 1 year at a time.

Extension of a residence permit for an accompanying family member of a foreign national working in Greenland

A residence permit for an accompanying family member can be extended if the foreign national working in Greenland has a valid residence and work permit and is resident in Greenland, or if his or her residence and work permit is exetended.

The application form below must be used when applying for an extension of a residence permit for an accompanying family member:

Application for an extension of a residence permit in Greenland (accompanying family members of a foreign national working in Greenland)
> GL/FA9

The application form contains a detailed description of how it should be completed and which documents must be included.

A residence permit in Greenland may be extended up to 1 year at a time.

Permanent residence permit

The possibility of being granted a permanent residence and work permit is dependent on which residence permit the foreign national is holding.

If a foreign national has held a residence and work permit as a self-employed person or an employee and has lived in Greenland for seven consecutive years he or she will normally qualify for a permanent residence permit if certain requirements are met.

The following requirements must be met:

  • The foreign national must have held the same residence permit for the entire seven years and must still meet the requirements for the residence permit,
  • during the foreign national’s residence in Greenland, he or she may not have been incarcerated (suspended or served), or been given any other form of criminal sentence that involves or could involve imprisonment for a crime that would have carried this type of sentence, and
  • the foreign national may not have overdue public debt in excess of DKK 70.450 (2015 level). However, he or she can be granted a permanent residence permit if he or she has a repayment schedule for the debt and adheres to the schedule.

Applications for a permanent residence permit can be stated when applying for an extension of a residence permit, or a separate application can be submitted.

Termination of a residence permit

Even if a foreign national has been granted a residence permit in Greenland, the Immigration Service can revoke it or refuse to extend it. He or she will then lose the right to reside in Greenland. It can happen for a number of reasons.

If conditions change

The Immigration Service may revoke or refuse to extend a temporary residence permit if the grounds on which it was granted no longer apply, for example, if the foreign national loses his or her job or closes his or her business. The foreign national is obliged to inform the Immigration Service of any changes in his or her personal situation which could affect his or her right to reside in Greenland.

If the foreign national has found a new job or plans to start up a new company, he or she must apply for a new residence and work permit before beginning work or before the new company starts operating.

If the foreign national fails to meet the requirements for holding a work or residence permit, the permit may be revoked.

Fraud

The Immigration Service has the right to revoke or refuse to extend a residence permit due to fraud, i.e., if the foreign national is found to have given the authorities false information. This applies regardless of whether he or she holds a temporary or permanent residence permit.

Missing passport

The Immigration Service can revoke or refuse to extend a temporary residence permit if the foreign national no longer possess a valid passport or other legitimate form of travel document.

When applying for an extension of a residence permit, a copy of the applicant’s passport must be included with the application. If the passport or travel documents are the invalid, the Immigration Service will ask the applicant to acquire a new passport or have the existing one renewed. The applicant will usually have one month to do this.

The Schengen Information System

The Immigration Service has the right to revoke or refuse to extend a residence permit if the foreign national is registered in the Schengen Information System (SIS). This applies if he or she is reported as undesirable because of circumstances which would warrant expulsion if committed in Greenland, e.g. serious crimes.

This applies regardless of whether the foreign national holds a temporary or permanent residence permit.

Personal situation is taken into consideration

If a foreign national’s personal situation indicates that revoking a residence permit would be particularly traumatic, the Immigration Service may chose not to do so. The following factors will be taken into consideration:

  • ties with Greenlandic society, including the duration of residence in Greenland,
  • age, health, and other personal circumstances,
  • ties with other residents of Greenland,
  • consequences of the expulsion to close relatives living in Greenland,
  • slight or non-existing ties with country of origin,
  • whether returning to country of origin would endanger foreign national.

Lapse of a residence permit  


If a foreign national gives up his or her residence in Greenland or leaves Greenland for an extended period of time his or her residence permit will lapse. 

What does it mean that a residence permit lapses?

If a residence permit lapses, the foreign national will lose his or her right to reside in Greenland. If he or she attempts to return to Greenland after an extended period of time, he or she could be denied re-entry.

If a residence permit lapses, the foreign national will need to apply for a new residence permit in Greenland. The new application will be processed according to current regulations. The original grounds for issuing the residence permit will not be considered.

How can a residence permit lapse?

A residence permit will automatically lapse if a foreign national gives up his or her residence in Greenland and leaves the country without any intention of returning. This applies regardless of whether the foreign national holds a temporary or permanent residence permit.

There are limits on how long a foreign national can stay outside Greenland without losing his or her residence permit even if he or she maintains a residence in Greenland. If he or she does not return within the stated time period, the residence permit will automatically lapse.

If a foreign national has been a legal resident of Greenland for less than two years, he or she can remain outside Greenland for up to six consecutive months. If a foreign national has been a legal resident of Greenland for more than two years, and holds a residence permit that can be made permanent, then he or she may remain outside Greenland for up to 12 consecutive months.

Periods of time abroad serving in the military as a conscript, or performing required community service will not be considered time living outside Greenland.

Residence in the Faroe Islands, Denmark or another country in the EU is considered as time abroad.

Preventing a residence permit from lapsing

Prior to departing Greenland, a foreign national can apply for a dispensation. It is also possible to apply for a residence permit not be considered as lapsed after the foreign national has left Greenland and has missed the deadline of return.

The Immigration Service recommends that the application is submitted prior to leaving Greenland.

Dispensation due to a well founded purpose

 Immigration Service can dispense the time limit and allow a foreign national to remain outside Greenland for longer than 6 or 12 months without his or her residence permit lapsing. The residence abroad must be temporary and it must have a well founded purpose, such as:

  • work
  • education
  • au-pair stay
  • posting for a Danish/Greenlandic authority, institution, organisation or company
  • posting for a foreign company, headquartered in Greenland
  • posting for an international institution or organization, headquartered in Greenland

When applying for dispensation from lapse of a residence permit, after having left Greenland, the well founded purpose must have existed throughout the stay abroad until the foreign national wishes to return to Greenland.

Dispensation due to return obstacles

It is also possible to apply for a dispensation due to return obstacles if the time limit is expected to be exceeded, or has already exceeded. The same is applicable if the foreign national has given up his or her address in Greenland and has left the country.

In these circumstances the Immigration Service may decide that the residence permit should not be considered as lapsed if:

  • it was the intention of the foreign national to return to Greenland before the 6 or 12-month time limit, and
  • he or she was prevented from returning to Greenland by unforeseen circumstances beyond his or her control. Such circumstances include: illness, imprisonment, war-like situations, natural disasters or problems leaving the country in which he or she was staying.

For how long is it possible to get a dispensation?

Decisions about dispensation are made on a case-by-case basis and will depend on a number of factors, such as: why the foreign national is applying for dispensation, how long he or she has lived in Greenland and his or her ties to Greenland. Normally, the dispensation period can be extended to a maximum of two years. It is also possible to apply for an extension of the dispensation period. Applications for extension must be made before the present dispensation period expires.

If the foreign national does not return to Greenland before the dispensation period ends, his or her residence permit lapses. This means that if he or she wishes to return to Greenland, he or she will need to apply for a new residence permit.

Family members

If a foreign national has been granted dispensation his or her spouse/registered partner/cohabiting partner as well as any children under the age of 18 who are living with him or her can also be granted a dispensation. The length of the family members' dispensation will be the same as the foreign national’s.

Family members must apply separately from the foreign national who is to work in Greenland.

Application that a residence permit should not be considered as lapsed

The foreign national can apply that his or her residence permit is not considered as lapsed if he or she is outside Greenland and has exceeded the time limit. The Immigration Service can decide that the residence permit should not be considered as lapsed if:

  • it was the foreign national’s intention to return to Greenland before the 6 or 12-month time limit, and
  • he or she was prevented from returning to Greenland by unforeseen circumstances beyond his or her control. Such circumstances include: illness, imprisonment, war-like situations, natural disasters or problems leaving the country in which he or she was staying.

It is important that the application is sent as soon as the foreign national is able to return to Greenland, but before returning to Greenland.

The application forms below must be used when applying for a dispensation:

Application for a dispensation from a lapse of a residence permit
> GL/BF1

Application: residence permit is not considered as lapsed
> GL/BF2

GL/BF1 is used before the foreign national leaves Greenland.
GL/BF2 is used when a foreign national is abroad and has exceeded the time limit.

The application forms contain a detailed description of how it should be completed and which documents must be included.

An application for a dispensation should normally be submitted to a police station in Greenland or to the Immigration Service.

If the foreign national is staying outside Greenland, the application can be submitted to a danish representation in the country he or she is in. The representation will send the application to Immigration Service for processing.

The foreign national cannot return to Greenland before he or she has obtained a new residence permit.

Appeal guidelines

The Immigration Service makes decisions regarding applications for residence permits in Greenland.

If the Immigration Service turns down an application for a residence permit in Greenland, the applicant can appeal to Udlændinge-, Integrations- og Boligministeriet (in Danish). The regulations for making an appeal will be included with Immigration Service's decision.

If the foreign national is in Greenland, he or she will normally need to leave the country while the Ministry reviews the appeal.

If the applicant appeals a decision of revocation or refusal of extension of a residence permit, he or she may be permitted to remain in Greenland while the appeal is being reviewed. However, if the appeal is submitted within seven days after the applicant has been informed of the decision, he or she is entitled to stay in Greenland while the case is processed in the ministry. The regulations for making an appeal will be included with Immigration Service’s decision.

If the Ministry disagrees with the Immigration Service, the decision will be overturned and the foreign national will receive a residence permit. If the Ministry agrees with Immigration Service, the decision will be upheld and the application will be turned down.

Useful links

The police in Greenland (available in Danish and Greenlandic only)

The Greenlandic Government



Last update: 7/22/2015
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Published by: The Danish Immigration Service
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