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RESIDENCY PERMITS

What are the key benefits of Norway’s family immigration permit? 

When moving to Norway, you may need a residence permit to live and work there legally. Norway’s family immigration permit has several advantages that may make it a more attractive proposition than other types of residence. 

Lofoten in Norway.
Thinking of moving to Norway? A family immigration permit comes with a number of benefits. Pictured: Lofoten in Norway. Photo by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

The majority of those from outside the European Economic Area will need a residence permit to live in Norway legally. However, if you are an EEA national, it’s relatively straightforward due to being able to live and work in Norway freely. The only paperwork that will be required is registering with the police

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for more than one permit. For example, when moving to be with a partner or family member, you may qualify for both a work permit and a family immigration residence card. 

In many cases, the family immigration permit may be best as it comes with several benefits that other types of residence may not. 

What is the family immigration permit? 

Spouses, cohabitants, fiancées, children, parents and other family members of residents in Norway may be eligible to apply for family immigration or family reunification permits from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). 

In other articles, we’ve covered the rules for family and partners in more depth. You can check those out below. 

READ MORE:  

Career freedom

When moving to Norway, many may find themselves in a position where they qualify for both a work permit and a family immigration permit, but they aren’t sure which one is best. 

When granted a family immigration permit, you have the right to live and work in Norway. And unlike a work permit, you may have more career freedom. This is because you will not need a job relevant to your qualifications. 

Additionally, those with temporary work permits need to reapply when moving into a job that’s a different position to the one you were granted a permit for, even if it’s with the same employer. Those with a family immigration permit aren’t required to reapply when switching jobs. 

This makes changing your job or career in Norway a lot more hassle-free than with a work permit.

Free language lessons

You may be entitled to free Norwegian language lessons when granted a family immigration permit in Norway. 

Those who are the family members of those with permanent residence, or the family member of a Norwegian or a citizen of another Nordic country (except those that have a residence permit as a family member on the grounds of the EEA freedom of movement regulations) can get up to 600 hours of language and social studies tuition based on their residence. 

Quicker road to citizenship 

Yes. As briefly outlined above, several factors can affect how long you must spend in Norway before becoming a citizen. 

For those that are a registered partner, cohabitant, or spouse of a Norwegian citizen, then the residence length is five out of the last ten years. 

One caveat is that your combined residence and marriage period will need to have been at least seven years. This means you will have to have already been married for at least a couple of years to be eligible for Norwegian citizenship after five years of residence. 

Those who aren’t married can include the time they have lived with their partner to the combined marriage and residence requirement. Furthermore, time spent living together or abroad can count towards the residence requirement.

READ ALSO: How long does it take to get Norwegian citizenship?

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MOVING TO NORWAY

Why Norwegian family residence applications take longer than other applications

Typically applications for family immigration to Norway take longer to process than other types of residence. So why is this? The Local reached out to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. 

Why Norwegian family residence applications take longer than other applications

Over the past twelve months, The Local has asked the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to provide figures on average processing times for residence applications

The majority of those from outside the EEA are required to have a residence permit, such as for work, education, or to move to be with a partner or family member to live, work and study in Norway legally. 

Each time these figures have been provided to The Local, waiting times for a family immigration permit have been the longest. Although between March 2022 and December 31st 2022, waiting times have decreased. 

Between March and December 2022, the average waiting time for a family immigration permit fell from 174 days to 109 days. 

However, when concerned readers share their experiences of long-waiting times for residence, sometimes exceeding 18 months, they usually are, but not always, applying for a family immigration residence card. 

The UDI has explained to The Local that several factors contribute to family immigration cases taking longer than other residence types. 

“There are many reasons for the long processing times in family applications. It is mainly due to the long processing time, both in the UDI and the police. But it is also due to the submission of incomplete applications, shifts in responsibility between different agencies, a complicated set of regulations that change relatively often, and the unclear status of the reference person (the person one is applying to move to be with),” Maria Rosenblad, Assistant Director in the Managed Migration Department in the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, explained to The Local. 

Additionally, the UDI said that in some cases, it needs to pause applications if it may be relevant to revoke Norwegian citizenship from a reference person. 

She added that the best way to avoid excessive or unnecessary waiting times was to ensure that applications were fully complete when submitted. The UDI’s application portal often provides a documentation checklist that you can use. 

If you need an appointment with the police as part of your application, a document checklist should also be provided to ensure there aren’t any paperwork-related hold-ups. 

As explained by Rosenblad, applications aren’t solely handled by the UDI. Norway’s police also deal with some of the application processes, and readers of The Local have complained of either long waiting times for an appointment or a lack of communication or clarity between Norway’s immigration services.

Police stations aren’t the only other authority involved in the immigration process. In some cases, such as when applications are being completed abroad, applicants may also need to visit an embassy or VFS centre

While the waiting time between applying from abroad and from within Norway should roughly be the same, some factors mean that applications submitted outside of Norway take longer.

“For all cases that the UDI handles, the waiting time is approximately the same if you apply from Norway or from abroad, but some cases applied from Norway have a shorter waiting time. This is due to the fact that these cases are handled by the police,” Rosenblad said. 

One reason applications from abroad may also take longer is that these cases may need further investigation. Applicants from a number of countries are also required to be interviewed as part of the process to clarify key details of the application, such as the relationship with the person you are moving to be with. 

These added hurdles can slow down applications, especially compared to those that don’t require the same steps. 

Rosenblad finished by telling The Local that the UDI was continuously working on cutting down waiting times. In 2022 some applications saw their waiting times increase due to a change in processing intended to speed up the process in the long run. The UDI wrote that the applications forced to the back of the queue, apart from citizenship ones, due to the change would receive an answer by mid-2023. 

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