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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Denmark banks on new visas
Denmark tourism
Denmark does not want to lose out on tourists
Denmark is planning to change the system of obtaining tourist visas for citizens from certain countries in a bid to avoid turning down legitimate visitors.

Proposals drawn up by the Immigration Ministry would require people from developing nations, including the Balkans, to be backed by a Danish national who would raise a $7,600 (50,000 Kroner) "host charge".

The Immigration Minister, Bertel Haarder, said he was certain that people from such countries, whose visa requests are currently being denied for fear they will want to stay in Denmark, would welcome the new policy.

An Immigration Ministry official told BBC News Online that the money would not necessarily have to be cash up front and that a Danish citizen may be able to stand as guarantor for a visitor by providing details of their bank accounts.

The new proposals could become law by January 2004 if the Danish parliament votes to accept them in December 2003, according to the official, who did not want to be named.

Denmark last year granted 84,000 short-term (three-month visas), but had to refuse 9,000 people entry.

"It is these people we are seeking to help enter the country," the official said.

Mr Haarder says the host's money guarantee will be returned upon their sponsored visitor's departure from Denmark.

Tough reputation

Denmark has previously adopted the toughest policies on illegal immigration in the EU.

In June last year it introduced restrictions on marrying foreigners, forcing some Danes to go into exile in Sweden.

Denmark's right-wing government was elected on an anti-immigrant ticket.

It introduced the new rules ostensibly to cut down on the large number of arranged and forced marriages amongst its predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.

But indigenous Danes who fall in love with foreigners from outside the European Union are finding they are being caught by the new laws too.

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