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The Greencard scheme

It is possible to be granted a residence permit for the purpose of seeking work, and subsequently working, in Denmark. A residence and work permit under the Greencard scheme is issued on the basis of an individual evaluation using a point system.

If you are granted a residence permit under the Greencard scheme, you do not need to obtain a work permit. A residence permit under the Greencard scheme gives you the right to carry out paid or unpaid work. However, a residence permit under the Greencard scheme does not give you the right to work as a self-employed person (run your own business).

If you already hold a Danish residence permit based on family reunification or asylum, or hold a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, you do not need a work permit in order to work in Denmark.

It is your own responsibility to obtain a residence permit if you are required to. If you work illegally in Denmark, you risk deportation, and you and your employer risk fine or imprisonment.

Seeking work in Denmark

It is your own responsibility to find work in Denmark so you can support yourself.

There are several web portals, databases and CV banks which can be useful in the process of seeking work in Denmark.

Read more about job seeking in Denmark

The present unemployment rate in Denmark is approximately 6% of the work force, and the demand for foreign labour is generally limited. However, certain sectors request highly qualified foreign professionals.

Certain jobs require an authorisation

If you are to work within certain fields and have a foreign education, you must obtain an authorisation or similar official approval from the relevant authority.

See the Ministry of Education's list of fields which require an authorisation or similar (new window)

Case processing fee

The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment has recently been contacted by a significant number of applicants who wish to have their fee refunded, after their application for a residence permit has been turned down because they have not obtained 100 points.

Please note that the fee is a case processing fee designed to cover the costs of processing your application.

Consequently, the fee will not be refunded if your application is processed but turned down, because you do not meet the requirements for a residence permit. Likewise, the fee will not be refunded if you are granted a residence permit, or if you withdraw your application.

However, if your application is rejected on formal grounds, this means that your application will not be processed. This may be the case if you do not pay the full fee.

Conditions

In order to be granted a residence permit under the greencard scheme, you must attain a minimum of 100 points. Points are given for: educational level, language skills, work experience, adaptability, and age.

You must have full health insurance covering you and any accompanying family members until you are covered by the Danish National Health Insurance.

You must document that you are able to support yourself during your first year in Denmark. Documentation can be a recent bank statement in your name which clearly states in which currency, and on which date, the statement was issued. If you wish to apply for a residence permit for accompanying family members, you must also document that you are able to support your family members. This documentation must be in either your own or your spouse's/partner's name.

Furthermore, it is a requirement that you do not receive any public assistance under the terms of the Active Social Policy Act (lov om aktiv socialpolitik) during your stay in Denmark.

Read more about financial requirements

Educational level

The level of academic degrees may vary from country to country, even if they have the same title. For example, a Bachelor's degree from another country may not necessarily be equivalent to a Danish Bachelor's degree.

The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment will decide whether it is necessary to have your educational level assessed by the Danish Agency for Higher Education, an agency under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

If your education is on a level lower than a Danish Bachelor's degree, you will not be able to obtain enough points to be granted a residence permit under the greencard scheme.

Please note that a Master's degree from e.g. a Pakistani university will often be assessed as equivalent to two years' studies at a Danish university, or a Danish Bachelor's degree.

The Danish Agency for Higher Education has developed a database designed to assess foreign qualifications and match them with the Danish equivalent.

See database for assessing qualifications from specific countries (new window)

Read more about assesing foreign diplomas (new window)

In order to receive points for educational level, you must, as a minimum, have the equivalent of a Danish Bachelor’s degree. You will only be given points for one educational level. Points are given as follows:

  • Bachelor's degree/Graduated from medium-length education: 30 points
  • Bachelor's degree followed by one-year Master's degree: 50 points
  • Master's degree: 60 points
  • PhD: 80 points

You will be given bonus points if you graduated from a university which is internationally recognised for its high academic level according to the latest THES-QS World Ranking. Points are given as follows:

  • Top 400: 5 points
  • Top 200: 10 points
  • Top 100: 15 points

See the top 400 list

You will be given 10 bonus points if your education qualifies you to work in a field where Denmark is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. You can find these fields on the positive list. In order to obtain the bonus points, your education must be of the level specified for the job type in question, e.g. a Master's degree or a Professional Bachelor's degree.

You can only obtain points for completed educational programmes. For example, if you are currently studying for a Master's degree in Sweden, you should not apply for a residence permit under the greencard scheme until you have completed your programme.

You can be given a maximum of 105 points for your educational level.

Language skills

Your language skills will be given points based on a four-level system modelled after the official Danish language proficiency tests for foreigners (the Danish Language Test, Levels 1, 2 and 3 and the Study Test in Danish as a Second Language).

In order to be given points for language skills, you must document that you have passed an exam in either Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English or German at a level corresponding to at least Danish Language Test, Level 1 (Prøve i Dansk 1). You can only receive points for one Scandinavian language and for either English or German. As such, you can receive points for both Swedish and English, or both Danish and German, but not for both Danish and Norwegian, or for both English and German.

Here is an indicative list of approved foreign language exams with their corresponding Danish level. You will only be given points for approved exams. Other exams do not qualify for points.

As an alternative to a language exam, you can document your language skills with a statement from a previous employer attesting that you have used Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English or German on the job for at least one year, or by presenting documentation that you have completed at least one year of studies at a higher educational programme which was taught in one of these languages. This will be accepted as a level corresponding to that of Study Test in Danish as a Second Language (Studieprøven). Points are given as follows:

  • Level corresponding to Danish Language Test, Level 1 (Prøve i Dansk 1): 5 points
  • Level corresponding to Danish Language Test, Level 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2): 10 points
  • Level corresponding to Danish Language Test, Level 3 (Prøve i Dansk 3): 15 points
  • Level corresponding to Study Test in Danish as a Second Language (Studieprøven) or higher/one year's study or work: 20 points

You can be given a maximum of 30 points for your language skills.

Please note: Good Danish skills are often essential to engage effectively in the Danish labour market.

Work experience

Your work experience can be given points according to how many years, within the last five years, you have worked as a researcher or in a field where Denmark is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. You can see these fields and specific job titles on the Positive List. You can also be given points for other work experience. Points are given as follows:

  • 1-2 years within the past five years as a researcher/in field listed on the Positive List: 10 points
  • 3-5 years within the past five years  as a researcher/in field listed on the Positive List: 15 points
  • 3-5 years within the past five years, other work: 5 points

You can be given a maximum of 15 points for your work experience. It is a requirement that the work has been of a considerable quantity. For example, no points are given for part-time work.

Adaptability

You can be given points for your educational or work related attachment to the EU/EEA (including Denmark) or Switzerland, as this is seen to increase your ability to quickly adapt to the Danish labour market. Points are given for either education or work. Points are given as follows:

  • Completion of at least one year's study at a higher educational programme in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland: 5 points
  • Completion of at least three years' study at a higher educational programme in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland: 10 points

Or

  • At least one full year's (12 consecutive months') legal residence and work in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland: 5 points
  • At least two consecutive year's legal residence and work in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland: 10 points

You will be given 5 bonus points for Danish language skills (passed exam in Danish Language Test, Level 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2) or higher).

You can be given a maximum of 15 points for your adaptability.

Age

You can be given points based on your age at the time you submit your application. Points are given as follows:

  • 35-40 years: 10 points
  • 34 years or younger: 15 points

You can be given a maximum of 15 points for your age.

Processing your case

Please make sure that your application contains all information and documentation needed by the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment to process your case. If your application lacks required information or documentation, your application may be rejected. This means that your application will not be processed.

If it is necessary to have your educational level assessed by the Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation, you will be notified by the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment.

Duration and extension

You can be granted a first-time residence permit under the Greencard scheme for up to 3 years. Before the end of this period, you can apply for an extension of up to 1 year. Before the end of this period, you can apply for an extension of up to four years.

Your residence permit can be extended if you have worked for the past 12 months for a minimum of ten hours per week.

Your residence permit can be extended for one year if you have lost your job through no fault of your own (e.g. due to cutbacks) no more than three months before applying for an extension, and if prior to this, you worked for 12 months for a minimum of ten hours per week.

When applying for an extension of your residence permit, it is crucial that you submit your application on time, i.e. before your current residence permit expires. Failure to do so will normally result in your application being rejected due to your residing illegally in Denmark. Consequently, an application which is submitted too late will not be processed by the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment. Instead, you will have to leave Denmark and apply for a new residence permit from your country of origin.

If your residence permit expires, and you applied for an extension before your residence permit expired, you can stay in Denmark with the same rights while your application is being processed.

You can submit your application for an extension no sooner than three months before it expires.

Greencard scheme for students at higher educational programmes

There is a special version of the Greencard scheme for students. This scheme enables foreign students who complete a higher educational programme in Denmark to stay in Denmark after graduating in order to look for work.

Read more about the Greencard scheme for students

Application

Read more about how to apply for a residence and work permit under the Greencard scheme

Family members

If you have been granted a residence and work permit under the Greencard scheme, you can bring certain family members.

Read more about residence permit for accompanying family members



Last update: 12/3/2014
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Published by: The Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment
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