Self-employed Non-EU/EEA nationals seeking residence in Denmark

As of 1 January 2015, non-EU/EEA nationals with self-employed visa’s (AR1) issued by DALRIR (Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration/Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration) are on their way to expulsion or have already left Denmark.

Foreigner-owned small businesses with few employees or a large cash turnover are not welcome in Denmark, there are no known minimum businesss performance requirements meaning foreign businesses will be closed at DALRIR’s discretion. To make matters worse the introduction of the Start-up Denmark programme imposes a fixed limit of 100 residence visa’s issued yearly where previously there were no limit on number of allowed work and residence permits.

Update (10/02/2016): The number of residence visa’s issued under the Start-up Denmark programme yearly is now 50, there is no indication of when this reduced limit was imposed.

There is no legal way for non-EU self-supported foreigners to receive a dedicated self-employed visa without submitting an application to open a large-scale business through the Start-up Denmark programme, the only option for foreigners with a Danish spouse is to apply for one of the following residence visa’s which somehow come bundled with a work visa, these are:

  • Family reunification visa
  • Family reunification under EU law visa

If you don’t have a Danish spouse there is no legal way to receive a long-term residence visa, you will need to become an employee, student or researcher; all of which do not allow you to operate a business in Denmark.

Start-up Denmark programme

For starters this shouldn’t be called a visa as it’s a YouNoodle application form where you submit your business idea and the powers that be will contact you if they think it’s good enough. Who are YouNoodle and why aren’t they mentioned on the New to Denmark website?

It has nothing to do with Danish Immigration Service or DALRIR and given Denmark’s business attitude towards cloning competition concepts prior to foreign players entering their market I’d be reluctant to submit any innovative business idea without confidentiality clauses.

Family reunification visa (FA1)

If you happen to have a Danish spouse and have lived in Denmark for more than 3 years you can apply for this visa, it requires a bond of around $8000 USD at time of writing (December 2015) which may be partially returned in installments after completing (and passing) the mandatory 6 months full-time Danish language studies and additional Danish language studies.

A portion of the bond is returned after passing Danish 1, with another portion returned after passing Danish 2; carrots leading the donkey. From what I’ve gathered job-seeking foreigners complete Danish 1 in order to stay in Denmark then forfeit the remaining bond (we’re talking 60% of the bond) and immediately enter the job market.

For self-employed foreigners operating an active business from their home country you must choose between shutting down your business and dedicating to full-time studies or struggle to do both risking your bond and livelihood.

There are many methods for the Danish Immigration Service to decline this visa as vague requirements can be exploited by case officers. For instance, even though it is indicated that de-facto couples are allowed, by not being married you are put at an immediate disadvantage of waiting an additional 2 months before receiving an outcome for this visa, that and your Danish spouse is financially responsible for you even if you are the breadwinner in this situation.

Family reunification visa under EU law

If you have lived with a Danish spouse outside of Denmark but within the EU for work or studies you may be able to apply for a residence visa, this is the holy grail of visa’s and is processed by the State Administration/statsforvaltningen.

I am learning the wonders and secrets of this visa which is rarely mentioned after I return to Denmark as a visa-free visitor (up to 90 days in Denmark then 90 days in the Schengen region) on January 20 and will update this section when I know more.

Update (21/02/2016): The holy grail only exists if you are married to your Danish spouse and reside outside of Denmark but within another EU country.

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