Where are Norway’s newest citizens and dual citizens from?

Just under 40,000 nationals became Norwegian citizens or dual citizens in 2022. Who are they, and where do they come from?

Pictured is a person watching a sunset atop a mountain.
This is where Norway's newest citizens hail from originally. Pictured is a person watching a sunset atop a mountain. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Becoming a Norwegian citizen comes with many benefits. For starters, it secures your residence rights and entry into the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme permanently.

Additionally, a Norwegian passport is among the most powerful in the world and comes with the benefit of making one an EEA national, meaning freedom of movement across the European Economic Area.

It also opens the door (or at least makes it easier) to any current or future children becoming Norwegian citizens further down the line. The appeal of Norwegian citizenship has only increased since 2020 when the country opened up to allow dual citizenship.

Last year, 94 percent of citizenship applications, which in addition to other requirements, require prospective citizens to pass a citizenship test and meet language requirements, were successful.

In total, 39,246 nationals became Norwegian citizens throughout 2022, according to figures from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

READ MORE: Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

More than ten percent of those who became Norwegian citizens in 2022 hailed from Syria initially, with Syrians being the largest group to be granted citizenship last year. Applicants of Syrian origin had 97 percent of applications to become Norwegian granted.

After that, Polish nationals were the second largest group, followed by Eritreans and Swedes. All of these groups had more than 3,000 nationals who were granted a Norwegian passport.

Russian, Afghan, Filipino, Somalian, Serbian, Thai and Danish nationals made up the other largest groups to apply for Norwegian citizenship and have their application approved in 2022.

Just under 850 British nationals applied to become Norwegian or Norwegian dual citizens in 2022. For British nationals, becoming Norwegian restores some of the rights they lost as a result of Brexit, such as freedom of movement across the EEA. Some 93 percent of applications from British nationals were successful last year.

Nationals from the US and India saw similar numbers of applications for citizenship granted. Just over 760 Americans had successful applications for Norwegian citizenship, compared to 711 Indians.

At the other end of the scale, Guinean, Honduran, Japanese, Malawi, Senegalese and Singaporean nationals saw the smallest number of citizenship applications granted. Only five applicants from each of these countries were granted citizenship by the UDI in 2022.

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Why do some Norwegian citizenship applications take much longer than others?

Becoming eligible for Norwegian citizenship is a process which takes years. When you finally submit your documents, you could find out whether you have been successful in a couple of months or up to two years.

Why do some Norwegian citizenship applications take much longer than others?

Language tests, citizenship and social studies tests, residency requirements and a good conduct certificate are just some of the key criteria you will need to meet to be granted Norwegian citizenship.

Meeting these requirements and being granted citizenship means such benefits as having the same rights as Norwegian and EEA citizens, being able to vote in general elections and staying in Norway for as long as you like or returning after a lengthy absence with virtually no paperwork.

Once you’ve checked all the boxes that apply to you and handed your documents to the police, your paperwork will be forwarded to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Per-Jan Brekke, a senior press advisor for the UDI, has told The Local that citizenship applications can take up to two years to process.

However, some cases receive a decision in a much shorter time, while others can take longer than two years to process.

One factor which affects how long an application will take is the applicant’s existing citizenship. Brekke used the example of applications from Syrian nationals taking longer to process.

“One of the reasons for long waiting times is that it is a challenge for Norwegian authorities to confirm the identity of persons from Syria. It has been difficult to determine the authenticity of Syrian passports since the civil war began in 2012. Consequently, the UDI has to confirm identities in other ways. Carrying out these alternative activities requires a case officer to evaluate your application,” he said.

Currently, the UDI website says that applications for citizens from (as an example) the UK, the US and Italy take 22 months to process. Meanwhile, applications for a national from Syria take 26 months.

One of the reasons citizenship cases take so long to process in the first place is that the UDI has received a large volume of applications.

“The main reason for the current long waiting times in citizenship cases is the large volume of cases that we have been unable to process quicker,” Thomas Theis-Haugan, a senior advisor to the press at the UDI, told The Local.

However, The Local has heard of citizenship cases processed in just a few months rather than up to 22 months. This is because the UDI can automatically process some applications, meaning a decision is made much quicker.

“Although some citizenship cases have much shorter waiting times since they can be automated (approximately one-third of all citizenship cases),” Theis-Haugan said.

Essentially, those who have their case processed can expect a significantly shorter wait for a decision.

On its website, the UDI states that those who do not receive an answer to their application within two months are probably not having their cases processed automatically. Applications that aren’t processed automatically are handled by a caseworker.

Those having a caseworker look over their application typically have nothing to fear or worry about, but it does mean it will take longer to receive a decision.

Unfortunately, the UDI or the police cannot tell you whether your application will be processed automatically. Additionally, you won’t receive any heads-up as to whether your case is or isn’t being processed automatically. If your request to become a Norwegian citizen is handled by a caseworker, the immigration directorate won’t be able to tell you why either.