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Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers

When foreign nationals under the age of 18 come to Denmark and seek asylum without their parents or other adults who can replace the parents, they are termed 'unaccompanied minor asylum seekers'.

As a general rule, unaccompanied minor asylum seekers must meet the same requirements as other asylum seekers in order to have their application processed in Denmark.

However, unaccompanied minor asylum seekers are considered a particularly vulnerable group, and special guidelines have been devised for processing their cases. This means that their applications will be processed quickly, and that they will be housed in special accommodation centres with specially trained staff.

If the unaccompanied minor is not mature enough for the case to be processed

Unaccompanied minors will only be required to apply as an asylum seeker if they are deemed sufficiently mature. If the Immigration Service assesses that an unaccompanied minor is not mature enough, he/she can be granted a residence permit without being required to go through the application process. In order to qualify for a residence permit, the unaccompanied minor may not have family or access to public care or similar in his/her country of origin and consequently would be left to fend for him/herself. When processing the case, the Immigration Service will take into consideration information about the unaccompanied minor's health and need for special care and assistance, as well as the general situation in his/her country of origin, such as war.

Furthermore, in order to qualify for a residence permit, the unaccompanied minor may not have access to a reception or care centre in his/her country of origin. This condition applies to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who enter Denmark from 1 January 2011 onwards.

In these cases, a residence permit will be granted under the Danish Aliens Act, section 9c (3) (i).

If the unaccompanied minor's application is rejected

If an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker is deemed sufficiently mature to go through the normal application process, and his/her application is rejected, he/she can be granted a residence permit if he/she has no family or access to public care or similar in his/her country of origin and consequently would be left to fend for him/herself.

Furthermore, in order to qualify for a residence permit, the unaccompanied minor may not have access to a reception or care centre in his/her country of origin. This condition applies to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who enter Denmark from 1 January 2011 onwards.

In these cases, a residence permit will be granted under the Danish Aliens Act, section 9c (3) (ii).

Personal representative

Every unaccompanied minor will be appointed a personal representative to serve his/her interests. Among other things, the representative will offer support to the unaccompanied minor during the processing of the case, for example by accompanying the unaccompanied minor during the asylum interview. The representative will also support the unaccompanied minor on a more personal level. The Immigration Service will ask the Danish Red Cross to recommend a representative to the Regional State Administration (Statsforvaltningen), which will appoint the representative. The representative may not be affiliated with the immigration authorities, and can be a relative or other private individual.

Legal assistance

If an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker's asylum case is processed according to the manifestly unfounded procedure, the Immigration Service will appoint an attorney to represent the unaccompanied minor during the processing of the case.

If the asylum case is processed according to the normal procedure, and if the application is turned down by the Immigration Service, an attorney will be appointed to represent the unaccompanied minor in connection with the Refugee Appeals Board's processing of the appeal case.

Unaccompanied minors whose application is rejected will still be offered assistance by the appointed attorney. Among other things, the attorney can assist the unaccompanied minor in relation to applying for a residence permit on other grounds and - if such an application is rejected - in relation the unaccompanied minor's return to his/her country of origin.

Search for relatives

Following the arrival of the unaccompanied minor to Denmark, the Immigration Service will launch a search of the unaccompanied minor's parents or other relatives, if their place of residence is unknown. The search may be carried out in collaboration with an organisation approved for this task by the Minister of Immigration, Integration and Housing.

A search can normally only be launched if the unaccompanied minor agrees to it.

If there are reception or care centers in the unaccompanied minor's country of origin, the Immigration Service is not obliged to launch a search for his/her relatives.

Unaccompanied minors who do not agree to launch a search for their relatives, or who come from countries where there are reception or care centers, can use the search service of the International Red Cross. The International Red Cross can help the unaccompanied minor locate parents and other relatives in confidentiality, that is, without forwarding the result of the search to the authorities.

Residence permit

Asylum

If an unaccompanied minor is granted asylum, the residence permit is initially limited to a period of 4 years. When this residence permit is about to expire, the unaccompanied minor can apply for an extension. If the unaccompanied minor has turned 18, he/she can apply for a permanent residence permit if he/she meets the requirements. If the unaccompanied minor has not turned 18, or if he/she does not meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit, he/she can apply for an extension of the residence permit if he/she meet the requirements.

Residence permit as an unaccompanied minor

If an an unaccompanied minor is granted a residence permit as an unaccompanied minor under the Danish Aliens Act, section 9c (3), the residence permit will normally be granted for one year, depending on the age of the unaccompanied minor. After this point, the holder can apply for an extension. In order to be granted an extension the unaccompanied minor must continue to meet the requirements.

This residence permit will always expire when the unaccompanied minor turns 18. After this point, the unaccompanied minor will normally have to leave Denmark.

In extraordinary cases, it is possible to grant a residence permit after the unaccompanied minor turns 18.

These rules apply to all unaccompanied minors who have entered Denmark from 1 January 2011 onwards.

Appeal

If an application for a residence permit under the Danish Aliens Act, section 9c (3) is rejected, the case can be appealed to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration. If an appeal regarding an application for a residence permit under the Danish Aliens Act, section 9c (3) (ii) is submitted less than seven days after the Immigration Service has announced its decision to the unaccompanied minor, he/she may stay in Denmark during the appeal process. However, if the appeal is submitted after this point, the unaccompanied minor will normally have to leave Denmark during the processing of the case.



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