A very well written article by DGCA media coordinator (Adeel Asghar) as published on The Copenhagen Post

Opinion | Uncertainty and insecurity make life uneasy for green card holders

Danish Green Card Association takes issue with arbitrary changes in rules for work permits for green card holders
Despite the media focus on the large number of green card holders who are forced to accept a job below their education level, the author argues that there are many success stories that aren’t being reported.

Danish Green Card Association (DGCA) is working to bridge the integration gap of green card holders in Danish society. We, however, still feel that the element of insecurity and uncertainty is very great for our members. As a volunteer organisation, we work to provide a common platform for our members to raise their concerns. We also encourage them to help each other find jobs, accommodation and integrate into society. We receive continuous feedback from our members, through our Facebook group and emails, about their issues and concerns.

One of the main concerns is the uncertainty about the law. The green card programme was introduced as a three-year work permit in 2008 and could be extended for another four years. The authorities decided to change this in 2011 for no apparent reason or explanation to 1.5 years followed by extensions of 2.5 years and four years. Business interest group DI pushed the authorities, and it was extended to three years with the possibility of a four-year extension. This leaves us in an uncertain situation that basically means anything can change any time. This is definitely not attractive for any highly-skilled professional. The extension applications for many people have taken more than a year to process. The situation is improving after the administrative changes by the Employment Ministry, and we hope it will improve further.

The author, Adeel Asghar, is the media co-ordinator for DGCA

The author, Adeel Asghar, is the media co-ordinator for DGCA

In connection to the changing laws, there was a strange ban imposed on green card holders in 2011, preventing them from starting their own business. This forced many people to close their firms, and some of them moved from Denmark. One of those who found himself in this situation was the former president of DGCA, Aamir Sohail, who closed his IT firm and went back to Pakistan after this change in law. We have discussed this issue with members of parliament from different political parties. We are really trying to communicate our message to the authorities to allow us to create our own jobs. When green card holders are not allowed to have any social help or loan, there should not be any restriction on them doing business. Although we concede that it is debatable if they should be allowed in all the fields, or only in the field of their education/specialisation.Another big challenge is the lack of awareness about their rights when working as an employee in Denmark. Green card holders often come here after leaving their jobs in their home countries. The Danish job market is not that friendly towards foreign applicants, and it can take time to make a breakthrough. This forces many of them to take non-professional jobs. A lot of the time, employers abuse their lack of awareness by paying them low salaries, no holiday money and other employment benefits. We have come across many cases where employers would not provide a contract immediately and would make them work for weeks as trainees. One can wonder what training one would need to work in a kiosk or as a cleaner that would take weeks, but that’s the reality of the job market.

The recent incident involving green card holder Aftab Baig described in last week’s edition of The Copenhagen Post brought this matter into light. We have heard similar complaints from our members in the past as well. Somehow, it always turns out that when an employer has to pay some overdue salary (which was already at an inhuman rate), the green card holder turned out to be a thief. There are many similar cases where people do not want to bring it into the public domain as they feel threatened.

DGCA has asked our members to report the names of trouble-making employers, and our president will soon send a formal complaint to tax officials and the Employment Ministry. There are some members who are willing to pursue it if asked to present their case in front of the authorities. DGCA is providing the guidance to such members taking legal action against abusive employers. We will also send the details of trouble-making employers to the authorities. We do not want to compromise the security of our members, especially after cases like Aftab Baig, and we will check the possibility of anonymous complaints with SKAT. We will also use all other available channels to highlight these issues with the authorities to stop these practices.

Over the past few years, the media has covered some issues affecting green card holders. Unfortunately, all of them were negative cases. We would like the media to cover some of the success stories as well. There are many green card holders who have broken the code to enter Danish job market. Everyone quotes a 2010 study that found that 28 percent of green card holders are doing jobs relevant to their education. The same study also mentioned that almost three out of four are doing at least some kind of job. They are the people who are not allowed to have any social benefit. They have already attained the education and skills to enter the job market without any subsidy from the Danish state. Most of them have come to Denmark in an age where it is normal to not get ill that often. Overall, they are the most profitable residents of Denmark.

We believe that Denmark needs highly-skilled professionals to compete in the global economy. A little guidance and proper awareness for green card holders about their rights can do wonders. The DGCA is playing its role to guide the new green card holders, but a focused approach is needed from the government as well.

The author is the media co-ordinator for DGCA.

Source: The Copenhagen Post

8 responses to “A very well written article by DGCA media coordinator (Adeel Asghar) as published on The Copenhagen Post

  1. i think it could be better if the green card holder has an opportunitie to run his own business… so they can also increase considerably job market in danmark ….

  2. in another hand if everyone was ingenieur , who will be cleaner, security , or other all society level is important the best thing to do is to give an opportunities for everyone to rank for one specifique sector cause all sector are key of the economy success

  3. I am telecom engineer . I am applying green card visa,Denmark.guide about the employment in denmark.

  4. @Cantin: You are right that all society levels are important but calling highly skilled people to Denmark and creating situations that force them to work much lower than their expertise is not logical either. Does it make sense that a foreign doctoral degree holder is less qualified for a job than a postgraduate Danish. I do not mean to create a discrimination but if a country invites foreigners, the system should be welcoming and accommodating as well. If foreigners must need to be familiar with the system and language (which is justified) such a criterion must be added in the scrutiny system. It is illogical and unfair that the government gives visa saying that you are eligible to work in the country and once you come to the country with all your savings, you learn that the local employer does not consider you eligible for work; they would rather prefer a local person.

  5. I know this is an old thread, but I just saw it and felt like sharing my two bits…
    I understand your arguments, Jabreel. However, as in the case of any education, having earned a qualification or eligibility is not assurance of a job. For a job, every individual has to compete in a manner that is required by the professional culture of the country/region. Hence, I don’t think it is illogical that the govt. says you are eligible but you don’t actually get a job. Govt. says you are eligible based on your qualification and experience. But each of us needs to prepare our applications and present ourselves in a way that suits the Danish employers’ way of evaluating a candidate. I came here on Green card and managed to get a good job within my field. And I know two others (also green card holders) who also got good jobs withing their relevant fields. But we worked on what was needed to present our job applications and ourselves to potential employers. We had our fair share of failures but through constant dialogue with local professionals and evolving our job application methods, eventually it worked out. I won’t say that success is inevitable. If one person gets a job in a leading company, at least 199 others did not. But that’s competition. It is a small country with limited jobs. And yes, there may be few bad eggs as stated in the article. But I wouldn’t blame every failure on the system. About integrating language in the scrutiny process, I totally agree. It will make things a lot easier for those who come here as well as help Denmark ensure that professionals entering the country are better equipped to take up jobs.

  6. Shardul, thanks for your response. I totally agree when you say that qualification does not guarantee a job. But I have impression (through media and blogs – because I still have to explore it myself once I am there) that government is not certain what kind of skills they require and in what number. Also if there is skill shortage, employers and government should mutually negotiate criteria for each category before they launch the immigration scheme. For example, they may agree that instead of expecting suitable candidates acquire Danish language knowledge right at the beginning, candidates would have to attain a certain level within a certain period.

    However, I also have impression that social as well as print media has mainly projected negative stories about green card scheme. Critically looking at those stories, one may discover what you have pointed out above that they seem to have no clear idea of what was practical (and pragmatic) knowledge and skills were required by eh Danish market. My personal experience shows that finding a suitable job in a foreign country requires at least 6-12 months search. This duration is not only helps to explore the job market but also helps to accumulate and absorb local culture and context specific requirements. I wish that along with giving warnings prospective immigrants of possible challenges, media and the government?) should also project success stories highlighting how the success could be possible in these cases

    I feel the new changes in the green card system related to earning certain amount before extending the residence permit have, though, made it somewhat challenging but it is in favour of prospective immigrants and the job market in Denmark itself. One may ”hate” this new condition but we have to accept that it warns to be more prepared and organised before immigrating.

    • Agree with you. Australia has an “occupations in demand” list that is updated every year based on the input of job openings collected from all states. That gives the government an up-to-date and clear idea of WHOM to invite. I believe something similar needs to be incorporated in the Danish Green card scheme. This would actually connect industry needs and profile of talent entering the country. It could also be more beneficial than merely changing income and other requirements for new applicants and permit renewals.

      Incorporating basic language proficiency at the time of application would be another good thing to introduce. If the govt. adds a time limit for achieving a basic proficiency even for those already here, I will gladly work towards it.

      About the social media… Again, it is very true that only the ugly part is highlighted. It is the nature of media everywhere. India has some glorious achievements and beautiful places to show off. But all that media highlights is the poverty and crime. This aspect is definitely of grave importance to the society, but it isn’t the only thing about India. Same goes for the situation of the Green card holders in Denmark.

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