The Language Barrier: Determinants of Passing the Danish Language Tests for Permanent Residence and Citizenship

Jensen, K. K. (Lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Denmark have the most demanding language requirement for both permanent residence and citizenship in Western Europe. In order to obtain Danish citizenship one needs to pass the so-called Danish 3 test (B2 level according to the European language classification system CERF). Permanent residence requires that you pass the Danish 2 test (B1 level). Although, if you have been economically self-sufficient in 8.5 years out the last 9 years, you can also obtain citizenship with just the Danish 2 test. Recent studies show, that the language requirement is by far the most exclusionary of the Danish integration requirements guarding access to citizenship. Immigrants generally have it easier accommodating employment requirements and knowledge tests. However, we still know quite little about what determines whether immigrants are able to pass these language tests at some point – besides that language learning capacity declines with age. To what extent are immigrant with little prior education able to pass a language test compared to those with higher education? Does early integration into the labour market have a positive effect on language acquisition as argued by many Danish politicians? Are immigrants more able to pass the exams if enrolled in a language program quickly after arriving? Does the region of origin make a difference for the ability to learn Danish? Not least, who and how many are excluded from possibly ever receiving permanent residence and citizenship? This paper seeks to answer all these questions using Danish registry data from 2001 to 2014 on adult refugees and family migrants who arrived between 2001 and 2009.
Period24 Oct 201826 Oct 2018
Event titleRefugees, Borders and Membership
Event typeConference
LocationMalmö, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational