A brief update on the integration bill
In last week’s Student grants for immigrants learning Faroese? article, we reported that integration minister Bjarni Kárason Petersen would reply to MP Hanna Jensen’s general enquiry about integration at the end of July.
This was incorrect, as the minister’s reply has already been posted on the Parliament website.
Jensen’s enquiry consisted of four questions. For clarification, Jensen’s question about student grants for immigrants was directed to the education ministry. Such grants are unlikely to be introduced immediately, according to education minister Djóni Nolsøe Joensen. But there is a long-term plan to turn the 'Faroese as a second language' course into a dedicated language school for immigrants.
The integration area is not a simple one in the Faroes. We apologise for the confusion.
Here is a quick summary of the integration minister’s reply to each of the four questions.
Question 1. “Please give an update on the integration bill.”
Answer: “The previous government did not finalise the integration bill before the early election. The current government will be building on the work done by the previous government in this regard. It is important to consult with all the relevant parties regarding integration in order to describe this area as thoroughly as possible before it is submitted to Parliament. The plan is to submit the integration bill to Parliament during the next sessional year of the Parliament (29 July 2023 – mid-June 2024).”
Question 2: “What are the most important areas to be covered in an Integration law?”
Answer: “In general, an integration should cover language tuition, information and various integration-promoting initiatives. With regards to immigration to the Faroes, we generally speak of three groups:
- Foreign nationals who arrive under family reunification
- Foreign nationals who arrive for work
These groups have widely different needs, and this is something that an integration law must take into account. An integration law should primarily apply to people who plan to stay in the Faroe Islands in the long term. This law should outline Faroese language proficiency requirements and provide details on how such proficiency is obtained. If requirements are made about language proficiency and an understanding of Faroese society and culture in connection with permanent residence, it is important that everyone is able to participate in the relevant courses. This means that e.g. sailors and/or shift workers should be able to attend such courses. It is important to provide adequate information to immigrants about their rights and duties in the Faroe Islands. Proper considerations must be made of how Faroese society can make the most of immigrants’ knowledge and education. Since many migrant workers end up staying in the Faroes, this group should be offered Faroese language tuition. Regarding refugees: the plan is that refugees return to their home countries when this becomes possible. However, as it can be difficult to determine when this might be, it makes good sense to promote integration for this group. For all three groups, it is particularly important to ensure that children and youths who come to the Faroes are offered good language tuition and solid integration into Faroese society. If they do not learn about the Faroese language and traditions, it can negatively affect their well-being. This may also have negative long-term effects for the entire Faroese society.”
Question 3. “What are the greatest challenges in terms of creating a comprehensive Faroese policy regarding immigration and integration?”
Answer: “This requires active involvement from all relevant parties. The government, municipalities, employers and trade unions need to join forces and find solutions that are suitable for Faroese society.”
Question 4: “When can we expect the integration bill to be submitted to Parliament?”
Answer: “We are aiming to submit the integration bill to Parliament during the next sessional year of the Parliament. It is important to describe all details to all relevant parties before the bill is sent out for consultation.”
More Faroese News in English.