What is the change? Denmark has passed a reform bill intended to help employers attract and keep highly educated foreign graduates, researchers and highly educated foreign employees.

What does the change mean? Certain requirements have been eased for foreign graduates, entrepreneurs and researchers, and Greencard applicants will earn more points for educational achievements.

  • Implementation timeframe: The reforms took effect Jan. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Establishment card, Greencard, Start-Up visas, Researchers permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign graduate students, researchers, entrepreneurs and Greencard applicants.
  • Impact on processing times: These reforms primarily affect criteria, not processing times; however, foreign graduate students who qualify for the Establishment card are exempt from work permits for two years after graduating from a Danish institution.
  • Business impact: Companies hiring international graduate students and researchers and foreign workers with higher education levels will benefit from the changes.

Background: The Danish Parliament passed a bill to reform international recruiting in December. In a previous alert, we reported the bill’s key feature: introduction of a fast-track work permit scheme.

The legislation introduces additional programs. The new Establishment card allows foreign graduates who earn a master’s or Ph.D. degree in Denmark to stay and work in the country for two years without having to apply for a work permit. The Start-Up program, a three-year pilot, will grant 50 permits per year to qualifying entrepreneurs. In other changes, the Greencard program will award more points to applicants with higher educational levels and will reform the points system to better serve labor demand, but Greencards will now be valid for two years instead of three and applicants cannot bring dependent family members.

The law also eases several rules for foreign researchers and their employers. Researchers and Ph.D. students are exempt from work permits for up to three months, researchers permits can be issued for part-time jobs and do not lapse if the researcher leaves the country for more than six months, and an employer will not have to apply for a new work permit if the researcher changes jobs within the organization. In addition, the minimum salary has been lowered for purposes of providing lower tax rates under the researchers tax scheme, thus enabling employers to include more foreign nationals in the special tax program.

BAL Analysis: The reforms significantly liberalize various work permit programs for highly educated researchers, international graduate students and start-ups.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Denmark. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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