Denmark: No place for love?

Article published on March 29, 2016
Article published on March 29, 2016

With the massive focus on international competencies that drives students and other people out in the world to gather the needed ammunition to compete in the modern labor market, it is strange, to put it nicely, that if you come home with more than just an education certificate, we suddenly have a very very big problem.

One of the 21st century's most obvious characteristic is that traveling and online interaction has made it possible to look for love outside the local or even national community, which in my case is the darkest corner of peripheral Denmark, namely Northern Jutland. Now, one can travel either to Southern Jutland or even to South America, to fall in love.

Often the goal of the profession of journalism is to stand up for the rights and voices of others, protecting the public from political and economic harm of unjust governments. However, due to my own personal situation, having found love outside of Denmark, the issue of tightening family-reunion laws has become personal to me.     

Having been living in Denmark my whole life, only interrupted by three longer stays abroad, I was shocked to discover that my rights as a Danish citizen to live in Denmark, with a foreign partner of my choice, would turn out to be much more difficult than first anticipated. Also, I believe that similar situations in other countries might not be that different. And as if love was not hard enough already, cross-national laws really doesn’t make it any easier. I would venture to state that the world has successfully embraced globalization on many levels, but that national governments and their legislations are still struggling to deal with the human consequences of globalization. We have somewhat successfully coped with the globalization of economy, technology and human rights, but when it comes to the question of constructing a system, which can embrace the social and human consequences of globalization, we still have some work to do. How can we make a world that is ready for the question; what do we do when the increased interactions across nations and cultures caused by greater traveling opportunities and online social media, results in real-life-people actually falling in love, and wanting to be together?.  

I recognize of cause that since borders still exist between countries, precautions must be taken. Some kind of system to at least keep track of who comes and who goes is of cause necessary, but the criteria for the permission to stay in Denmark beyond the three months Schengen visa is sometimes hard to fulfill, despite not being a criminal and actually being able to support oneself.

It quickly became clear to us, that marrying seems to be the easiest road to an approved residence permit. However, as a free and independent Danish woman of the 21th century, with a sense of romance and justice, the thought of marrying for a document seems despicable. Therefore, we decided to apply as un-married as we have been together for almost 3 years and are therefore desperately trying to prove that we have actually been together and lived together for a period of 1,5 years during longer visits to our respective home countries. This might be a gamble, but also a small rebellion against a system, which to some extent encourages ‘forced marriage’.      

Furthermore, due to the intensive immigration to Europe recently, which degree of ‘crisis’ has been blown slightly out of proportion I believe, we were told that the normal processing time of a family-reunion application of 3-5 months was now expanded to 5-9 months. This is not inexcusable, but still a bit worrying, as my partner is not allowed to work in Denmark, or even leave Denmark during that time.

According to the government, the problem of immigration in Denmark is bad integration, but I would venture to say that marrying or being together with a Dane, is probably the best prerequisite for a successful integration into Danish society.

With a 57 pages application currently in process, we can only hope that the people deciding on our future have mercy on us, and will not banish me from my own country.

For me, the most annoying thing about the whole process of bringing your partner to Denmark is that someone who does not know neither me or my partner, has the right and power to decide whether our relationship is ‘valid’, and furthermore approve or disapprove of our right to live together in the location of our choice. In the end, and with respect for the precautions needed to be taken by governments, are we not somehow compromising several basic rights when making it so hard for inter-naitonal couples to get to live together? What about the right to family life, free movement and free choice of life-partner? It seems problematic that someone who only has limited knowledge about our situation has such huge power to influence our future.