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Expansion of residence and work permit ‘positive list’ and increased fines for using illegal labour in Denmark

Written by
Norrbom Vinding, the largest labour and employment law practice in Scandinavia and the market leader in Denmark.
From 1 July 2020, the’ positive list’ for professions giving simplified access to a residence and work permit in Denmark will be expanded to include posts at the skilled level. At the same time, the fine for intentional or grossly negligent use of illegal labour has been increased.

The ‘positive list’ is a scheme where a foreign national can get a residence and work permit if he or she has been offered employment in a field where there is a shortage of qualified labour. At the same time, it is a requirement that the applicant has the relevant education for the position (minimum bachelor’s level).

In the course of the Finance Act negotiations, the government and a number of other parties entered into an agreement that the current positive list should be expanded to include skilled-level positions in areas where there is a labour shortage.

This was implemented in a bill that has now been passed. This means that from 1 July 2020 residence and work permits can be granted to foreign nationals on application if the following conditions are met:

  • The foreign national has entered into an agreement or has been offered employment with an employer on ‘usual pay and employment terms’.
  • The employer concerned is covered by the internship-dependent AUB contribution and has fulfilled its target education ratio in the last year of contribution.
  • The position is, as a minimum, at the skilled level where there is a shortage of domestic labour.


The introduction of the requirement that the employer must have met its target education ratio in the last year of contribution ensures that only employers who live up to their ‘social obligations to educate apprentices’ are allowed to apply the expanded positive list.

In connection with the adoption of the bill, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration has prepared an overview of the work functions that may be included in the expanded positive list, if there is a shortage of labour at the skilled level. The overview is attached as appendix to the adopted act and includes, among other things, laboratory technicians, accounting employees and hairdressers.

In addition, the fine will be increased for companies using illegal labour with effect from 1 July 2020. The level of the fine is doubled in the situation where a company intentionally employed a foreign worker or workers who do not have the right to work in Denmark, and / or where an economic benefit has been obtained or intended in return for the employment.