Good day, everyone! Like what I promised on my introductory blog, I’m going to walk you into the process of how I applied for Familiesammenføring or Family Reunification visa on spousal ground. Just a heads up, though, this post will be a little lengthy.
To give you a little bit of a background into my story, I came here in Denmark in 2014 under the au pair scheme. When I married my husband in 2016, my au pair visa was automatically cancelled. So, after marriage I had to apply for a new residence visa on the grounds of family reunification.
How Did I Start?
I first started with reading about the requirements online. Even before we got married, my husband and I already looked into the requirements that we need to meet for me to be able to have a smooth application for spousal visa. In the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) website called nyidanmark.dk, you can find all the requirements you need before you turn in your application. But because of the ongoing strictness being done by the immigration authorities these days, it’s impossible not to feel insecure even though you technically have/meet all the requirements.
So, I did one thing that I thought would help me feel secure — I asked around, specifically those people I knew who went the same process recently. I received a lot of very useful tips. But it also made me even more stressed. For one, applications are being processed on a case-to-case basis. Others might have met problems on a specific detail that others may never experience. So, along with the different information that I received, came also the troubles that confused me in the end.
To liberate ourselves from stress, my husband and I called the immigration itself. We had issues with some papers that we didn’t understand at first and we wanted to be sure before we send our family reunification application. They are the authority, they know what to do.
There are different sets of requirements depending on you and your spouse’s status, i.e, marital status and nationality. Be sure to check which application form you are downloading by reading through the immigration’s website carefully.
The basic requirements include that you should be at least 24 years old, have a strong attachment to Denmark and that you will both sign and agree to integrating and contributing actively in the Danish society.
My husband, being a Dane who was born and raised in Denmark, and I, was asked to fill in/provide the following requirements.
- Application form FA1
- Case Order ID and Application Fee
- Documentation (Copies of our passports, (my) current residence permit, marriage certificate)
- Housing documentation
- Proof of financial independency (spouse or the sponsor’s part)
- Bank Guarantee of DKK 54,289.48 (2017-level)
Application Form FA1. This is the first step in the application. My husband and I had to fill out the forms and answer consistently all the questions. It basically just asks for your personal information and also involving your marriage. While filling up the form, I received tips from people I met online. They said stuff like both my answers and my husbands’ should be consistent. It could be a red flag if they don’t match. Again, I’m not sure if that’s really true because there might be cases that it was taken into detail, while there may be cases that it wasn’t paid much attention on. Just answer them correctly and make sure that you know the right dates of your marriage, for example, and the expiration of your current permit to stay in Denmark is also correct and valid.
Case Order ID. Before you pass the application for familiesammenføring, you need to pay for the processing fee or the case order ID. I remember we paid DKK 6,200 (2016 price) for the application fee last year but now they cost DKK 6,300 or Euro 845 (2017 price). There are cases where you will be exempted to pay the fee such as if your husband (or sponsor) who is basically applying for you is of refugee status, ill, handicapped or have a child from previous marriage whom he/she lives with or sees on the regular basis. Any of the aforementioned is subject to fee exemption. My husband is single and childless so we paid.
Documents (passports, residence permit copy, marriage certificate). This part should be the easiest because you basically have all the papers in hand. For the passport, my husband and I were asked to scan and copy the cover and the back page, the main page with all the information and then all the pages that was filled in with travel details. I am holding a residence card under au pair scheme which will expire months before we got married. I had to scan it as well and give them a copy. The same went with our marriage certificate one in Danish and the other one with English translation, we had to include both just to be sure.
Proof of Financial Independency. This one is a little bit confusing as I knew someone who didn’t have to provide this. But my husband had to go to the kommune or municipal government where he is registered to ask for proof of his financial independency. It is basically a written proof that he did not receive any type of financial help from the government, especially social security or kontanthjælp for the last three years prior to our application. You will see the full list of the government help being mentioned at page 22 of the FA1 application form. I also provided a short screenshot of it for you to see. However, a good thing to do regarding this is to call the immigration to clarify whether or not you need to present a certificate for this.
Housing Documentation. Aside from the rule that you must be living together and registered in the same address, there are also other requirements concerning your housing situation. My husband and I rent an apartment. It doesn’t really matter if your spouse rent or own an apartment, given that it follows the rule for familiesammenføring. First, the place has to have a space that is at least 20 sqm. per person and has a room and own entrance. Second, the place that you live should be under your spouse’s name if you are renting it or if you own it. The name of the spouse should appear in the housing document to prove that he/she can house the applicant.
My husband has been living in a studio-type flat which is exactly 40 sqm. when we were applying. Just enough size as required in the rule. He also has it registered under his name. I suggest that you ask for the housing documentation in advance as the housing authorities can be slow sometimes. In our case, we had to wait for nearly three weeks for the paper before we received it.
Bank Guarantee. This was the last thing that we provided among the requirements. Normally, before you get to post the money in the bank, the immigration has already looked into the other requirements and checked the information they needed. So, your application is like almost approved. Like the application fee for the case order ID, people who are under the following grounds may also be exempt from posting bank guarantee: sponsor or spouse is of refugee status, is seriously ill or handicapped, and or has a child from previous marriage whom he/she lives with or sees on the regular basis. Again, to be sure call the immigration authorities.
Step-by-step Process in Applying Family Reunification
Step 1. Prepare all the requirements needed. If I haven’t listed down the complete requirements above, you can always check out the Danish Immigration Service’s website here, for the full list of the requirements you and your spouse must meet before applying.
Step 2. Create a Case Order ID and pay the fee. Create a case order number and pay the fee here. If you think you are exempt from paying the fee, make sure that you click the box that says “you are exempt from paying” before you proceed creating a case order. Be careful though in determining whether or not you are exempt from paying because when the immigration decides you do not meet the requirements for the exemption, they will reject the application. There is also the possibility of refund if you pay and they deemed you are exempt from paying.
Step 3. Fill out the family reunification application form or FA1 form. Download this form and fill it out, noting all the requirements and the information that needs to be filled. You have to look through it carefully because when you miss an information, they will reject your application.
Step 4. Turn in your application and get your biometric features registered. If you are living here in Copenhagen or near the capital, you can turn in your application at the Danish Immigration Service Citizen Center at Ryesgade 53, 2100 Copenhagen Ø. Check their website to see their opening hours and how many people they can take in for you own personal convenience. If you live somewhere else in Denmark, your application can be sent either to the Danish Immigration Service through mail or to any police station that can record your biometric features. If you are living outside of Denmark, you can go to the Danish consulate in your home country. In any case there is no Danish embassy or consulate in your country, you may try and contact the Norwegian or Swedish embassy instead and ask if they accept applications because others do.
When you turn in your application in person at the Danish Immigration Service, expect that you will be asked questions by the immigration personnel who will receive your papers. Be sure to bring the original forms as well in case they asked for it. In my case, they asked for my original passport and residence card for double checking. They also gave us feedback while looking into the application form whether we filled them out correctly and whether the information/requirements that we provided were clear or not. After they checked the forms and requirements, they will tell you to have your biometric features recorded. Biometric features include your photo, fingerprints and your signature which will appear in your residence card once your application got approved.
Step 5. Wait for the result of the application. You will receive a letter from the Danish Immigration Service regarding the status of your application. This usually takes quite long due to the volume of applications the agency process and the types of cases being handled. But for a well furnished application, complete with details and requirements, expect a minimum of 6 months waiting time. Ours took 6 months but we were initially asked to wait until 12 months. You are also welcome to call them for a follow-up or check your application status on their online portal. No matter how long it takes though, be sure that they will send you a mail instructing you on what you should do next. In our case, we already knew what we were supposed to do, should we receive the approval letter. That is; to post the back guarantee. If your husband is exempt from paying the bank guarantee, you should be done already.
Step 6. Posting of bank guarantee. Once you receive the letter from the DIS saying that your application has been deemed for approval, they will ask you to post the bank guarantee within a certain time period. This is the part where you will have to communicate both with your bank and your kommune or municipal government. My husband already has the money on his bank so when we received the letter, he went personally to our bank which is Danske Bank and filled out forms. He, then, sent the papers into their main office in Århus. After we received the response mail from Danske Bank, my husband went to the kommune and presented the bank document. Then, we were asked to wait as it is them, the kommune, who will then communicate with the immigration regarding our application. A very useful tip, once you received the go signal from the immigration, go to your bank as quick as possible because this part takes long.
After a couple of weeks, we received another mail from the immigration service saying our application has been finally approved. It was only then we were able to relax.
What’s Next After Your Family Reunification Gets Approved?
When you’ve been granted a residence permit for spousal grounds, you will receive your residence card in 4-6 weeks. You need to also pass a Danish A1 language test within 6 months and then A2 within 15 months after being granted a permit. If you already have taken the Danish A1 test, then you can relax for a while.
As you pass the Danish exams, your guarantee money gets reduced. The idea is that learning the Danish language increases your chances of being self-sufficient while further getting integrated into the Danish society. To learn more about the Danish test and the bank guarantee reduction, click here.
A good idea is to start with education if you want to pursue one or getting a job right after you get your permit. In my case, I have been going to the language school even while we were processing my papers. When I got my permit, I immediately start working.
Things to Consider While Applying for Family Reunification
- You are not allowed to work while your application is being processed. You risk your application being rejected and yourself being deported due to illegal work.
- You will be allowed to stay in Denmark while your application is on process. This is only applicable when you are already in Denmark and was holding a residence permit before you apply. For an au pair like me whose au pair visa gets nulled once you apply for a new one, you are allowed to stay once your paper is turned in. A proof for this is a stamp that will be put on your passport when the immigration accepts your application.
- You can go outside of Denmark while your paper is on process. You can travel outside Denmark while your paper is on process, provided that you apply for a re-entry permit at the Danish Immigration Services.
- If you want to study Danish while your application is on process, you need to communicate with your kommune. There are cases where you are allowed to study for free (like in my case, as I was an au pair and was previously taking Danish classes before I got married). There are others though who paid for it themselves because they were not allowed to study. The best way is to communicate with your municipal officer.
- I was told by someone before I apply that the immigration people ask questions regarding your marriage when you turn in your application. So, I was literally advised to rehearse my answers. But going through the whole process, I believe they only exercise their right and duty to clarify information. It does not necessarily mean they will interrogate every applicant regarding the validity of the relationship and marriage. Of course, they will though, if a certain case is really suspicious.
- When you’ve already done the Danish test, the amount of the guarantee money you need to post will decrease. If you are applying and you’ve already met the Danish language requirement, remember to put the proof along with the other documentation when you pass the application. The immigration will tell you how much you need to post in the bank after looking into your papers.
- The bank guarantee is only being demanded at the end of the application. Relax, you can always put it in you account while the application is ongoing.
- When your application gets denied, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world yet. You have a chance to re-appeal your case. In this case it is wise to be in communication with the immigration authorities and follow their advice.
There are a lot of questions you will encounter as you process your application. All the more a lot of answers and confusion a s you ask around and base your case on someone else’s. A word of advice, ask only the authorities, specifically the immigration. They are the ones who know the rules. It will save you energy and keep you from anxiety.
If you have further questions regarding family reunification and other related concerns, do not hesitate to ask. I may not know everything but I will try my best to help you with it. You can also write in your experiences and any additional information on the comment section to help others who might be going through the same process.
Hope this helps you. Good luck on your application!