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Graduates in Denmark coming from non-EEA countries

From January 2019 it will be very difficult for non EU/EEA graduates to get benefits

The danish Parliament adopted on december 20, 2018 a new (additional) requirement for being eligble for Unemployment benefits in Denmark.
The new rule states that you only can get Unemployment benefits in Denmark, if you have stayed in Denmark (or another EU/EEA country) for some years.
The new rule will affect all member groups (danish citizens, EU/EEA citizens, non EU citizens, graduates), but will obviously have significant most negative effect for non-EU citizens.
From 1. of january 2019 only people who have stayed in Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands or another EU/EEA country in 7 out of the last 12 years can claim Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge").

Regarding whether you are entitled to unemployment benefits after January 1, 2019, you will, as a non-EU/EEA graduate, face the following 2 challenges:

  • requirement for stay in Denmark or another EU/EEA country for 7 out of the last 12 years (This will apply starting from 1 January 2019), and the
  • requirement for work-permit

We will address these two requirements further in the following.

New requirement from 1 January 2019

The new requirement will be phased in over 3 years from 2019-2021. In 2019 the requirement says that you must have stayed in Denmark or another EU/EEA country for at least 5 out of the last 12 years.
In 2020 the requirement will be 6 out of the last 12 years, before it will be full implemented in 2021 (7 out of the last 12 years).
You can read more about this new requirement from january 1, 2019 in our special article addressing this.

Obviously many non EU/EEA graduates in Denmark can not meet this requirement. And if they do, they still need to have work permit after graduation (see below) to be able to get unemployment benefits.

Work permit

Graduates of a Danish educational institution, which comes from a country outside the EEA area, will only being eligible for getting unemployment benefits as graduates if they have a residence- and workpermit, which gives right to work FULL-time (37 hours/week).
Furthermore the international graduate must be able (like all others seeking unemployment benefits) to take over working with 1 day's notice.

As an international (non-EEA) student here in Denmark your study-permit also gives you right (working-permit) to work 20 hours per week.
Together with the study-permit you get additional 6 monts jobseek-permit, which allows you to stay up to 6 months in Denmark after completion of study to seach for job.
In this 6 months period you also are allowed to work only 20 hours per week. This will not give you right to Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge").

It is also a condition for the study-permit that the student is self-supporting throughout the stay in Denmark. Therefore, if you only have a normal study-visa you will not be able to get Unemployment benefits.

However, as a foreign national who has completed a Master or Danish PhD degree you can apply for a residence permit with the aim of establishing yourself in Denmark (an establishment card). If you have received a residence permit under the establishment card scheme, you can legally stay in Denmark and can accept offers of employment with one day's notice. Therefore, it will be relevant for establishment cardholders to apply for membership of an a-kasse. However a graduate with a residence permit under the establishment Card scheme cannot receive unemployment benefits after the graduate rule during the establishment stay, without it is contrary to the conditions of the residence permit.

If you meet both of the above mentioned requirements (stay for 7 years and sufficient work-permit), the following scenarios will apply regarding Unemployment benefits after graduation:

Getting unemployment benefits from day 1 after study

Remember to be member of an A-kasse at least one year before finish study. It is free as long as you study.

Getting unemployment benefits from 1 month after study

If you have less than one year left - and have not been member of an A-kasse at least one year, then you can still get benefits as a graduate but the you will get one month quarantine before can start receive benefits. And you must apply for membership at least 14 days/2 weeks after ending study.
Nomally you can apply for membership as an graduate up to 6 months before ending study. Tell the A-kasse (when you send application online) that you want to apply for member with graduate status. See our guide for graduates here.


This page was last modified on January 3, 2019.