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Religious workers

You can be granted a residence permit in order to work as a member of the clergy, as a missionary or in order to perform other functions within a religious order or denomination, such as a nun or monk. When you are granted residence as a religious worker, you will also be granted permission to work in Denmark – in the position and at the work place stated at the residence permit from the Immigration Service.

If you are a Nordic citizen, you are free to reside, study and work in Denmark. If you are an EU/EEA citizen or Swiss citizen seeking residence in Denmark based on the EU rules on freedom of movement, you may be subject to special regulations. More information about EU/EEA and Nordic citizens.


Conditions for residence permit

You may be granted a residence permit as a member of the clergy if you can document that you are to work for an existing religious order/denomination in Denmark.

You may be granted a residence permit as a missionary if you can document that you are to work as a missionary and preach a specific religion or belief affiliated with an officially acknowledged or sanctioned religious order/denomination in Denmark.

You may be granted a residence permit for other religious functions if you can document that you are to work within an existing religious order in Denmark. This applies to, e.g., monks and nuns who traditionally have religious functions within an order. The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Folkekirken) or another officially acknowledged or sanctioned religious denomination in Denmark must confirm that the order is established under or works within the religious denomination.
 
Furthermore, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must document that you are affiliated with the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Folkekirken) or another officially acknowledged or sanctioned religious denomination in Denmark. Documentation can be a written agreement or declaration by the denomination stating that you are a religious worker within the religious order or denomination.
  • The number of foreign nationals holding residence permits as religious workers must be proportionate to the size of the denomination. The denomination will be asked to state its size (number of members) as well as the number of religious workers affiliated with it.
  • You must document a background, training or education relevant to being a religious worker.
  • You must sign a vow declaration stating that you will abide by Danish laws, including those protecting freedom of expression, freedom of religion, gender equality, sexual orientation and an individual’s right not to be discriminated against.
  • You must sign a sworn declaration stating that you will not engage in any activity that poses a threat to public safety, law and order, health, decency or the rights and duties of others. This statement is part of the application form for religious workers.
  • You must sign a declaration stating that neither you nor any family members accompanying you will apply for public assistance during your stay in Denmark. This statement is part of the application form for religious workers.

Normally, you cannot be granted a residence permit if you are solely to work as a teacher – even at religious schools – if you are to teach subjects which are not characterised by preaching a religious message. Likewise, you cannot be granted a residence permit in order to receive religious instruction or to be educated or trained as a religious worker.

If you are to study theology or a related field, you may be eligible for a residence permit as a student.

Conditions for extension of residence permit

In order to qualify for an extension of your residence permitas a religious worker, you must pass an immigration test (testing your Danish language skills and your knowledge of Denmark and Danish society) within six months of being granted residence permit.

You must also take a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy within six months of being granted residence permit. Both courses are required and can only be waived in the situations listed below.

The course is offered by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs four times a year.

If you were granted residence as a religious worker before 15 November 2010, you are not required to take the immigration test.

You can be granted an exemption from the course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy if you were granted residence prior to 1 April 2017, and do not perform weddings (regardless of whether such marriages are valid according to civil law).

You can be granted an exemption from the course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy if you perform weddings (regardless of whether such marriages are valid according to civil law) and completed a course in Danish family law prior to 1 April 2017.
 
Read more about the immigration test 

If your work includes or will include performing religious or non-religious marriage ceremonies, in order to obtain an extension of your residence and work permit, you must complete a Danish family law course no later than six months after your first residence permit is granted. These two-day courses are provided by the National Social Appeals Board (Ankestyrelsen) , a department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and Integration (Social-, Børne- og Integrationsministeriet), once every three months. The courses are held in Copenhagen and Aarhus depending on where the participants live and their wishes.

Read more about the family law course   

Read more about the course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy (Link to the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs' webpage will be available soon)

Dispensation from the immigration test and course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy

Normally it is not possible to get a dispensation from the requirements regarding the immigration test, and course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy. A foreigner can however get a dispensation if he/she can document, that he/she is not able to take the test or complete the course. The can e.g. be because of a hearing or talking handicap. If this is the case a medical statement must be attaches to the application for residence permit.

The Immigration Service can give a dispensation from the requirement regarding the course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy, if the applicant has a similar knowledge on Danish family law, individual rights and democracy. The Minister of Immigration and Integration makes the specific rules about legal maturity and exception from the course together with the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs.

It is necessary to make a thorough review of all aspects of the specific case in order to determine whether the requirements regarding the immigration test, and course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy must be met or not. You can get further information about this at the Immigration Service. The determination is made on the ground of the specific circumstances of each case. It is therefore not possible to get a binding premade decision about whether a dispensation is possible or not.

Turkish Citizens

In 1963, Turkey and the EU entered into an association agreement as a way to extend certain rights to Turkish citizens working or otherwise economically active in some other way in an EU country. The European Court of Justice has issued a number of rulings that have determined how the agreement is interpreted.

Based on these rulings, it has been concluded that if you are a Turkish citizen applying to extend your residence as a religious worker, you cannot be required to take the immigration test or pay the test fee, or to complete a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy. 

You are not required to pass the immigration test or to complete a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy, as is otherwise required for religious workers seeking to extend their residence. The reason is that religious workers are viewed as being economically active.

If you are uncertain about whether you as a Turkish citizen are exempt from taking the immigration test or a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy, please contact the Immigration Service.

Citizens of the EU/EEA countries

Citizens of the EU/EEA countries who apply for a residence permit as a religious worker are also not required to pass the immigration test or to complete a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy.

Duration

As a religious worker, you can be granted residence permit for seven months with a possibility for extension for one year at a time, for a maximum of three years in total.

If you were authorised to perform weddings at the time you were granted residence permit, your residence permit can be extended for two years initially, and then for a period of three years and five months. Successive extensions will be granted for four-years at a time, with no upper limit on the number of extensions.

If you are granted the right to perform weddings during your initial three-year residence as a religious worker, your residence cannot be extended. Instead, you must reapply for residence permit according to the current rules.

If you have not passed the immigration test and taken a course in Danish family law, individual rights and democracy within six months of being granted residence permit as a religious worker, you cannot be granted an extension.

When applying for an extension, you should use the same form as you used when applying for residence permit (application form RF1). Please state that you wish to apply for an extension.

Family members

As a religious worker, you do not have the right to bring your family with you to Denmark. However, if you are granted residence for at least three years, your spouse or cohabiting partner, as well as any children under the age of 18 who are living at home with you, are also eligible for residence. Your family must be able to support itself, and you must live together in Denmark at the same address. Your spouse or cohabiting partner is allowed to work for the entire period he/she resides in Denmark.

Read more about how to apply.

Fee

Normally you have to pay a fee to get your application processed at the Immigration Service.

If you submit the application to a Danish diplomatic mission, embassy or consulate, you normally have to pay the fee to the diplomatic mission. The size of the fee can vary and you can read more about this at the diplomatic mission’s web page. 

If you are a Turkish citizen and are applying for a residence and work permit for religious workers, missionary, nun or monk, you are exempt from paying the fee if you are economically active.

Citizens of the EU/EEA countries are also exempt from paying the fee.



Last update: 3/31/2017
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Published by: The Danish Immigration Service