Foreigners in Denmark who have applied for family reunification may have been illegally rejected by authorities because of excessively demanding language and knowledge tests over a two-year period.
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that Denmark’s tests have been more difficult than the law allows. The tests, which have been a requirement for religious preachers looking to extend their stays in Denmark since 2010, were also used for family reunification applications between 2010 and 2012.
The discovery was made after Danish politicians proposed making the tests harder in the Folketing, Denmark’s parliament, which then exposed that some parts of the tests were already too hard.
According to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration Affairs, 27 religious preachers failed to have their stays extended after failing the tests. While it is not immediately apparent how many applications for spousal reunification were refused because of the tests, more than 800 people were rejected during the 18-month period in which the tests were part of their applications.
Kim Pederon, senior adviser at Marriage Without Borders, has encouraged citizens who have been rejected on the basis of the tests to seek compensation from the state.
“It looks like there has been negligence from the central administration. It should arouse some reflection among politicians,” said Mr Pederson.
Foreign Minister Mattias Tesfaye, the son of an immigrant who is a staunch proponent of anti-immigration policies, called the case “very regrettable”, but did not promise to reopen any cases.
Danish MP and foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish Social Liberal Party Kristian Hegaard called on the government to reopen affected cases.
“When people have been exposed to something that was not a legal authority, it must of course automatically lead to a resumption of their case,” said Mr Hegaard.
The immigration ministry said it was “still looking into” whether cases could be reopened.
Denmark's recent policies regarding migrants have caused controversy. The Scandinavian nation was the first in Europe to tell refugees from Syria it was safe to return, prompting widespread condemnation from international rights groups and protests in Denmark.
Human rights advocacy group Syria Campaign says Denmark has cancelled the residency status of at least 380 Syrian refugees.
Denmark's ruling Social Democrats have adopted a tough stance on migration in a bid to win supporters back from right-wing parties.