Post Study Work Options: How to Get a Work Visa in Denmark After Your Studies

Post Study Work Options: How to Get a Work Visa in Denmark After Your Studies

Denmark is a Nordic country and is a bridging point between Northern and Southern Europe, with its position to the south of Sweden and the north of Germany, providing the perfect base for exploring the Nordic territories. Denmark has one of the oldest monarchies in the world and is home to the iconic “Little Mermaid”. 

Denmark always comes in among the top three happiest countries around the world. The country is well-known for its work-life balance and welfare benefits provided by the state like free access to most healthcare services. International students who have completed their studies in the country have multiple possibilities to stay and work in Denmark.

Nordic citizens of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are free to enter, reside, study and work in Denmark without a need to present a resident visa or work permit.

Denmark is one of the Schengen countries and a member of the European Union who advocates for free movement thus as an EU citizen, you may freely enter Denmark and you do not need a permit to work. EU nationals who stay in the country longer than three months need a Civil Registration System (CPR) number. You must present your EU residence document to your municipality of residence to be given a CPR number. 

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens will need a residence permit to work in Denmark. Upon graduation from a Danish higher education institution, your residence permit will remain valid for an additional six months, allowing you to seek employment in Denmark. Provided your visa hasn’t already been extended for an extra six months you can apply for such an extension to your permit. 

Temporary Residence and Work Permit

As a non-EU national you must apply for a residence and work permit. You also need to apply for a work permit if you will be doing unpaid work or seek sideline employment. It is possible that your residence permit will expire before your work permit especially if you already have the residence permit while seeking a job. It is your responsibility to renew your permit before the expiration date to legally stay in the country.

Establishment card

You may apply for this card once you have completed and been awarded a Danish professional bachelor’s, bachelor’s, master’s degree or PhD degree and want to stay in the country and seek employment. You must apply within 1 year of completing your educational programme. The application process usually takes a month.

Educational programmes not approved by a state authority, will not be able to form the basis for an establishment card.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Copy of all pages of your passport – including all empty pages and the passport’s front and back cover.
  • Documentation that you have completed a Danish higher education
  • Documentation that you can support yourself during your stay in Denmark

An establishment card is initially granted for 2 years. It is possible to extend your establishment card by an additional 1 year, if you are employed in a job relevant to a completed educational programme, which can form the basis for an establishment card. A residence permit can only be valid until 3 months before the expiry date of your passport. This means that the validity of your residence permit will be shorter than it could be. 

When you have been granted an establishment card, you are allowed to work in any company and in any position in Denmark. You do not have to apply for a work permit when you get a job or change jobs. You are also allowed to run your own business.

With this permit, you can sponsor a family member to accompany you in the country. You can also travel to the Schengen area for up to 90 days within 180 days but will not allow you to work in other Schengen countries.

Start-up Denmark

If you want to open your own business with an innovative business idea then Start-up Denmark is the right permit for you. It is a scheme for foreign entrepreneurs providing an opportunity to be granted a Danish residence permit in order to establish and run an innovative growth company.

The business idea must be approved by a panel of experts appointed by the Danish Business Authority before the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) can process your application for a residence and work permit based on the scheme. Your work permit is limited to the running of the business that forms the basis of your permit so if you start a new business or get a salaried job, you must apply for a new residence and work permit.

The scheme can be used by both individuals and teams of up to 3 people who want to start a business together in Denmark through a joined business plan. The application process usually takes a month.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Copy of all pages of your passport – including all empty pages and the passport’s front and back cover.
  • Approved by the Danish Business Authority’s panel of experts
  • Documentation that you can support yourself during your stay in Denmark
  • Documentation of company ownership if relevant

A residence permit based on the Start-up Denmark Scheme is valid from the date when your permit is granted. You can be granted a residence and work permit for a period of up to 2 years. It is possible to extend your permit for up to 3 years at a time. It is important to note that you need to apply for an extension before your current permit expires.

Residence Permit on the Basis of Work

An application for a residence permit on the basis of work must be submitted to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

As a general rule, you must have an employment agreement with a company registered in Denmark to be able to apply. 

Residence and work permit based on a job allows you to sponsor a family member to accompany you in the country. You can also travel the Schengen area for up to 90 days within 180 days but the permit does not allow you to work in other Schengen countries.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Copy of all pages of the applicant’s passport – including all empty pages and the passport’s front and back cover.
  • Power of attorney from the applicant
  • Employment contract or job offer which contains information about your salary and terms of employment and a job description. The offer or contract must not be more than 30 days old.
  • Documentation of education relevant to the job offered
  • Documentation of parts of your salary or benefits that do not appear in the employment contract, e.g. paid rent for housing or salary paid to you abroad
  • Documentation of authorisation if needed

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Fast-track Scheme

Your employer can apply for a residence and work permit on your behalf if you are offered a job by a company certified by SIRI and you want a quick job start and a flexible permit. The Fast-track scheme makes it faster and easier for certified companies to recruit foreign employees with special qualifications to work in Denmark. The application must be submitted online.

Additionally, the scheme allows you to alternate between working in Denmark and working abroad. Your salary and employment conditions must correspond to Danish standards.

There are four ways to fast track your application

  1. The pay limit track

Your salary must correspond to the pay limit amount of the Pay Limit scheme. For 2020, your annual salary at least 436,000 DKK 

  1. The researcher track

If you are offered a position as a researcher and the job requires you to stay longer than three months. There must be specific research-related reasons for offering you the position as a researcher. This means that the position must be closely connected to you and that the main purpose of your stay must be to do research. Please note that guest researchers and PhD students are not included in the research track. 

  1. The educational track

If you are a highly qualified foreign national with significant work experience within a certain professional field, the educational track is of relevance to you, provided that:

  • The purpose of your stay in Denmark is to receive highly qualified training in the certified company, or
  • The purpose is that you will be training other employees in the certified company at a highly qualified level. 
  1. The short-term track

If you are not covered by the rules of exemption but have been offered a contract with a maximum duration of 90 days in a certified company, the short-term track is for you. Your salary, holiday entitlements, terms of notice etc. must not be inferior to the standards within the professional field in Denmark in which you are going to work.

The Pay Limit Scheme

As of 2020, it is required that you have been offered a job with an annual salary of DKK 436,000 or higher to qualify. You must have a contract or a specific job offer showing that your salary and work conditions correspond to Danish standards and that your working hours will be at least 30 hours a week. The application process usually takes a month.

If you are offered a new job with a new employer, you must apply for a new permit. A residence and work permit based on the Pay Limit Scheme allows you to stay in Denmark for the period of time your permit is valid. Your permit will be valid for 4 years or less if your employment contract is less than 4 years.

The Positive Lists

The Positive List is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark.

If you have been offered a job included in the Positive List, you can apply for a Danish residence and work permit based on the Positive List Scheme. Once you are granted this permit, you are not allowed to carry out unpaid voluntary work

The Positive List is updated twice a year – 1 January and 1 July.

There are two categories under this program.

  1. The Positive Lists for Highly Educated 

Your education must match the job on the Positive List for the Highly Educated. You are only allowed to work in the job and in the company that you have been granted a permit to work in. If you are offered a new job, you must apply for a new permit. Your residence and work permit will normally be valid for the period of your employment. If you wish to continue working in Denmark after this time, you must apply for an extension of your residence and work permit. It is very important that you apply for an extension before your permit expires.

  1. The Positive Lists for Skilled Work

If you have been offered a job included in the Positive List for Skilled Work, you can apply for a Danish residence and work permit based on this scheme. You are only allowed to work in the job and in the company that you have been granted a permit to work in.

Special individual qualifications

You have been offered a job in Denmark so closely linked to you that only you can carry it out such as a performer or an artist, an athlete, or a specialised chef. You must provide documentation that you can carry out the job. You can be granted a residence and work permit valid for 1 year at a time during the first 2 years of your stay however, the validity cannot exceed the length of your job contract. After two years of this permit, you can be granted a permit valid for a maximum of 2 years, and after 4 years, valid for a maximum of 3 years at a time. 

Working Holiday Residence Permit

Denmark has made Working Holiday agreements with Argentina , Australia, Canada (ages 18-36), Chile (ages 18-31), Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The agreements are reciprocal so Danish nationals can also obtain working holiday permits to these countries. 

The Working Holiday agreements have been made to give young citizens from ages 18-31 (except for Canada which extends to national 36) from these countries the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures and ways of living. The purpose is to further mutual understanding between the countries. You need to submit your application not more than 6 months before your stay and the process usually takes 3 months to complete.

You can be granted a permit to stay in Denmark for up to 1 year. With a Working Holiday residence permit you are allowed to work to a limited extent. This means that you are allowed to work a number of months during a period of 1 year. It depends on the bi-lateral agreement between your government and Denmark. You are also allowed to attend an educational course of limited duration.

You must prepare the following documents:

  • Copy of all pages of your passport – including all empty pages and the passport’s front and back cover
  • Documentation that you have a return ticket or sufficient funds to buy a return ticket
  • Documentation that you can support yourself during your stay in Denmark to extend the agreement between your home country and Denmark requires it
  • Documentation that you have taken out insurance covering you during your entire stay in Denmark to extend the agreement between your home country and Denmark requires it 

Permanent Residence

To qualify for permanent residence, you need to meet all of the basic and at least 2 supplementary requirements. If you meet all four supplementary requirements, you will qualify for a permanent residence permit after having resided legally in Denmark for four years, rather than the normal eight. 

Basic Requirements:

  • Above 18 years old
  • You still meet the requirements for your current residence permit
  • You have 8 years legal residency in Denmark
  • You have not been convicted of certain crimes
  • You have no overdue public debts
  • You have not received certain forms of social benefits
  • You need to accept a declaration of residence and self-support
  • You need to be employed or self-employed
  • You have not worked against the establishment of your identity
  • You passed the Danish language test 2
  • You have been employed for at least 3 year and 6 months

Supplementary Requirements:

  • You passed the Danish language test 3
  • You have been employed for at least 4 years
  • You passed the active citizen exam or have displayed active citizenship
  • Have had an annual average income above a certain amount (As of 2020, your annual taxable income of DKK 292,256.68  or more for the 2 years prior to the Immigration Service reaching a decision about your application for a permanent residence permit).

You can apply for a permanent residence permit at any time and you do not need to wait until your residence permit is about to expire. However, it is important that you submit your application before your current residence permit expires otherwise your application will be rejected as you have stayed illegally in the country regardless of the duration. The expected maximum processing time is 10 months.

Naturalised Citizenship

In order to qualify for Danish nationality, you must have had 9 years of uninterrupted residence in the country and have a valid permanent residence permit. You must also prove that you are able to support yourself and must not have received any public benefits within the past year. You must also have been self-supportive for 4 years and 6 months out of the last 5 years before your application.

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