If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, the process of moving to Norway is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately if you’re from the rest of the world, the process is a lot more complex.
With its stable economy and high standard of living, Norway is a popular country with immigrants. Although Norway and Norwegians are generally positive about skilled immigration, strict entry requirements are in place.
Precise requirements depend on many things including your country of citizenship, reason for immigration, professional qualifications, and your family and financial circumstances, so it is difficult to provide a thorough overview. However, we will list on this page the general requirements to give you an idea of whether you are able to move to Norway. For more specific advice for your circumstances, please check the Department of Immigration (UDI) website.
Important: applicants are currently extremely long processing times for all types of residence permit for non-EU/EEA citizens.
The categories of residence permit for non-EU/EEA citizens are:
- Family immigration
- Work immigration
- Study permit
- Permanent residence
- Au pair
Now to look at each of these in more detail:
Some people can visit Norway without a visa, but most people from countries outside the EU/EEA must apply for a visitor’s visa.
Visitors from the USA, Canada & Mexico do not need a visa and can stay in Norway for up to 90 days. You should have at least NOK 500 available for each day of your stay in Norway, but this rule is rarely enforced.
Contrary to popular belief, having a distant Norwegian relative does not entitle you to Norwegian residence. Very few countries in the world operate such a system.
Norway does operate a family immigration program, but it is intended for someone with the right to live in Norway (for example through a work permit) to have their spouse and children live with them.
If you have a Norwegian parent, you can also apply through the family immigration system, but you must have an income of at least NOK 235 258 per year pre-tax.
If you wish to come to Norway to work, you need a residence permit. You must normally have found a job first. What residence permit you should apply for depends on your competence and the type of work you will be doing in Norway.
Skilled worker – you must have completed higher education and have received a firm full-time job offer that requires your qualifications. You must be paid at least the standard wage where a collective agreement applies. If there is no collective agreement for the industry, you must be paid at least NOK 410,500 pre-tax if the job requires a master’s degree, or at least 381,000 per year pre-tax if the job requires a bachelor’s degree. You can normally bring your close family with you.
Employee of international company – You must apply for this type of permit if you are employed by an international company and are going to carry out an assignment for the Norwegian branch of the international company. There is also a permit if you are employed by a company abroad that has a contract with an enterprise in Norway to carry out an assignment in Norway. Professional qualification and wage requirements are similar to the skilled worker category.
Offshore workers – In order to work offshore in the Norwegian oil & gas industry you need this permit. Some exceptions apply.
Athletes or coaches – You must either be an athlete who is going to participate in top-level sports or a coach in top-level sports. Examples include the top two divisions in men’s football and the top division in ice hockey. The pay must be at least NOK 235, 258 per year pre-tax and the Department of Immigration will consider each application on an individual basis.
Ethnic cook – You must have received a concrete offer of full-time employment from one specific employer in Norway. You cannot work at several restaurants, even if they have the same owner. You must have at least ten years’ relevant education and/or work experience and must have worked at a high-standard hotel/restaurant for at least half of that period. If you are from China, you must have a certificate from the authorities stating that you are a ‘level 1’ cook or a ‘level 2’ cook. If you are from Thailand, you must have a certificate from the authorities stating that you are a ‘level 2’ cook. You will in principle only be granted a residence permit as an ethnic cook in exceptional circumstances.
Religious leaders / teachers – In principle, you must have a master’s degree in your religion or in pedagogics from a university/ university college. You must have received a concrete offer of full-time employment from one specific employer in Norway and the pay and working conditions must not be poorer than is normal in Norway, except in certain circumstances.
Self-employed in Norway – You must have plans to engage in long-term business activities in Norway via a sole proprietorship, not a limited company. You need relevant professional / vocational qualifications and your expected earnings must be at least NOK 235 258 per year pre-tax. This permit is only granted for one-year at a time.
Self-employed abroad – You must be a self-employed person with an established business abroad and have entered into a contract to carry out an assignment for an enterprise in Norway.
If you wish to study or go to school in Norway for more than three months, you must apply for a study permit. If you are granted a study permit, you will also be able to work for up to 20 hours a week while you are studying and full-time during holidays. You must have received an offer of admission to a full-time study programme at a university college or university and you must have at least NOK 100,920 per year to live on.
There are also specific permits available to study at high school, religious schools, and university summer schools. It is no longer possible to apply for a residence permit for Norwegian studies for skilled workers.
With a permanent residence permit or permanent right of residence, you can reside and work in Norway indefinitely. You will also be given extra protection against expulsion. You must have stayed in Norway for the past three years and have held residence permits that form the basis for a permanent residence permit.
You must have held valid permits throughout the three-year period and still hold one when you apply for a permanent residence permit.
Note that study permits do not count towards permanent residence.
You must have completed tuition in the Norwegian language and social studies and meet the requirements that apply to you or be able to document that you have been granted an exemption by the municipality (applies if you are between the ages of 16 and 55). If you immigrated to Norway as a family member of an EU/EEA citizen, there is a different system.
As an au pair, you can improve your language skills and learn about Norwegian society by living with a Norwegian family. In return, you will provide services such as light housework and/or child care for the host family. You must be between the ages of 18 and 30, and cannot have any children of your own. It must be likely that you will return to your home country at the end of your stay in Norway, and the circumstances in your home country must also indicate that you can return.
You can apply for protection (asylum) if you are persecuted or if you fear persecution or inhumane treatment in your home country. Norway has several different procedures for asylum applicants, depending on circumstances.
Photo credit: Kenneth Lu