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Quota refugees

A refugee residing outside of Denmark can be resettled in Denmark following an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a similar international organisation. This is pursuant to the Danish Aliens Act, Section 8.

Since 1978, the Danish Government and Parliament have allocated a fixed amount of each year's national budget to a refugee quota which specifies the number of refugees that can be resettled in Denmark. This type of refugee is therefore often referred to as a 'quota refugee' or a 'UN refugee'. Since 1989, the quota has been set at 500 placements per year. As a rule, the quota still remains at 500 placements per year, but as of 1 July 2005, the arrangement changed, and the quota can be applied more flexibly. This means that within a three-year period, the immigration authorities have 1500 placements, resulting in approximately 500 placements per year.

Resettlement in Denmark always takes place at the request of the UNHCR. A person cannot apply for resettlement on the grounds of, e.g., relatives already living in Denmark.

There are three main categories for quota placements:

  • those originating from selected geographic regions – e.g. Asia or Africa
  • those who are critically ill and in need of immediate treatment
  • those risking immediate expulsion to their country of origin, or who are at risk in their country of residence, i.e. urgent cases

The vast majority of refugees selected will fall under the first category. Only a small number of refugees will be chosen from the two other categories. Based on the recommendation of the Immigration Service, the Minister for Immigration and Integration makes the final decision on how the 500 placements are divided amongst the three categories.

Criteria for selection

The individual quota refugee is chosen from among UNHCR refugees.

In each case, the Immigration Service assesses whether the person in question could have been granted a residence permit if he/she had entered Denmark as an asylum seeker. This means that persons who could have been granted asylum or Protected Status, and others (including persons who could have been granted a humanitarian residence permit if they had entered Denmark as an asylum seeker) can be resettled in Denmark.

The Immigration Service also considers the applicant's chances of settling in Denmark and benefiting from a residence permit. This involves looking at such factors as language skills, educational background, work experience, familial situation, network, age, and motivation. In urgent cases or cases involving critically ill persons, these factors will not be considered.

The applicant must also consent to a medical examination performed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Finally, the applicant must sign a declaration accepting the conditions for resettlement in Denmark, including the importance of working and learning Danish.

Refugees are selected on quota trips

Most quota refugees are offered resettlement in Denmark during quota trips to the countries where the refugees temporarily reside. During the trips, members of the Danish delegation interview the individual refugees in order to determine who will be offered resettlement in Denmark. These visits are carried out by the Immigration Service, with the occasional participation of municipal representatives and/or the Danish Refugee Council. The Immigration Service is responsible for making the final decision and issuing residence permits in individual cases.

Certain quota refugees are selected on a written basis

Throughout the course of the year, UNHCR can submit urgent cases or cases involving critically ill persons in writing (dossier cases). This is most often done through the UNHCR resettlement section at the headquarter in Geneva. In these cases, the UNHCR sends case files to the Immigration Service, which makes the final decision.

Special integration initiatives

Before a quota refugee chooses to accept an offer of resettlement in Denmark, the refugee will receive written material describing his/her rights and obligations in Denmark. The goal is to adjust the refugee's expectations to the reality he/she will meet in Denmark.

Prior to being offered resettlement, the refugee must sign a declaration that he/she has been informed of the conditions for resettlement in Denmark, and that, based on this, he or she wishes to be resettled. See Declaration regarding the conditions for resettlement in Denmark.

Quota refugees chosen for resettlement in Denmark during a quota trip go through a 'pre-departure course', which is held in the refugee's country of residence. The course is an introduction to the Danish language and society and is intended to make the transition to living in Denmark as smooth as possible.

Collaboration with the municipalities and the Danish Refugee Council

As mentioned above, representatives from the municipalities and the Danish Refugee Council can participate in the quota trips. Furthermore, both can participate as teachers at the 'pre-departure courses' in the refugees' country of residence.

Residence permit

Initially, a refugee receives a six-month residence permit. After arriving in Denmark, the residence permit is extended to up to five years from the date of entry. After this period, the refugee can apply for an extension of the permit, if he/she still meets the conditions for residence in Denmark.

Last update: 12/9/2016
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Published by: The Danish Immigration Service