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IMMIGRATION

How long do applications for Norwegian residence take to process?

Some citizens will be required to have a residence permit to live and work in Norway legally. Here’s what you need to know about how long it could take.

Pictured is a Norwegian flag with a fjord backdrop.
Here's what you need to know about waiting times for Norwegian residence. Pictured is a Norwegian flag with a fjord backdrop.

Moving to Norway will, for many, involve going through the residence application process. Depending on the application type and your circumstances, it could be a lengthy wait.

Typically, those from outside the EEA will need to apply for a residence permit to move to Norway as a skilled worker, to be with a partner, spouse or family member or to study, as they don’t have the same freedom of movement rules as EEA residents. 

If you are applying or have applied, it may be helpful to know how long you may have to wait to hear an answer. 

The Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI) has provided The Local with figures for the median waiting times for the various application types. 

At the end of September, the median waiting time for a family immigration permit was around 144 days. Meanwhile, the waiting time for a work permit was 50 days, and those applying to study in Norway waited around 64 days. 

However, these are just the median waiting times- you could be left waiting much longer or considerably shorter. 

This makes it hard to give a catch-all answer regarding application waiting times. In addition to the figures provided, the UDI has a list of waiting times for various applications on its website. These waiting times are updated every month, so they are worth checking in on regularly.

Also, if you are applying for residence and haven’t handed in your documents yet, the estimates provided don’t take into account how long it will take you to get an appointment to submit the paperwork. 

You can click here to take a look at the UDI’s waiting times for various application types. When you check your waiting time on the UDI’s website, it will ask for detailed information on your application, such as the type of permit you are applying for and where you will hand your documents in order to give you an accurate time frame. 

However, even then, the time you end up actually waiting may exceed the estimates and figures provided to The Local. For example, earlier this year, we heard from residents who had exceeded their waiting time, saw it increase every month and in some cases, went over 18 months without receiving a decision

This still may be the case for some, as there were just under 3,000 applications from 2021 that were yet to be processed. Unfortunately, this means that thousands of applicants still face exceptionally long waiting times similar to the ones The Local reported earlier this year.

When you submit an application within Norway then the police will typically process the application. If they have any doubts about the application, they will forward it to the UDI as they do not have the power to reject applications. You can click here for an overview of police processing times. 

A lot of this backlog may be attributed to a change in the workflow, which saw older applications pushed to the back of the queue at the beginning of the year

Previously, the UDI has told The Local that the change in workflow, increased automation and ensuring that applications were or less complete when submitted would decrease wait times in the long-term. 

READ MORE: Have long waiting times for Norwegian residence improved?

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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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