Language Tests and Citizenship Acquisition: Evidence from Refugees and Family Migrants in Denmark

Jensen, K. K. (Lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Today, all but two EU-28 countries conditioning citizenship acquisition on passing a language test. Yet, so far no studies have examined the exclusionary effect of introducing a language requirement for citizenship. This study contributes by analysing all adult refugees and family migrants who immigrated to Denmark between 2003 and 2010. Denmark has the most demanding language requirement for citizenship among OECD countries but also comprehensive, mandatory and free language training for refugees and family migrants. Using Danish register data, the analysis examines how many of these immigrants had in fact passed a B1 or B2 language test by 2014 and how passing a language test correlates with age, gender, prior education, employment, waiting time until enrollment in a language course and region of origin. The results show that factors largely outside the control of immigrants such as age, gender and waiting time to begin language training makes a real difference. But above all else prior education decides whether or not a language requirement at the B2 level effectively block access to citizenship for the individual. These findings should sensitize policy-makers to the social exclusion of low educated immigrants caused by introducing a demanding language requirement.
Period27 Jun 2019
Event title16th Annual IMISCOE Conference: Understanding International Migration in the 21st Century: Conceptual and Methodological Approaches
Event typeConference
LocationMalmö, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational