My Work Permit Headache

Budget hotel in Trondheim

I’ve always been kinda lucky when it comes to professional development. Even before finishing my graduate program, I had already been offered a position to work in Norway. I’ve already talked about my first impressions, so now I want to describe a bit the legal process to come here.

The first bump in the road was getting my contract, and while the Mexican postal service has improved much in the last 10 years, it is not reliable.

I would like to stress this – it is not reliable!

So, instead of an original contract, I had to make do with a scanned copy emailed to me. With this, I was to call the Norwegian Embassy in Mexico. This entity only carries a limited number of services for non-Norwegians, which I am not now, and even less then. I was instead advised to contact the Danish embassy, as it seems the Nordic countries conduct many of their foreign relationships through a Danish conduit.

Whichever woman was in charge there informed me that the process to apply for my Norwegian working permit would take three months. Now, as my boss was expecting me the following month, three months wait wasn't a very advantageous deal for me. Luckily, NTNU found a workaround and so I came to Trondheim as a regular Mexican tourist – who can enter the Schengen area for up to three months every six months without additional visas or permits.

A simple process, but…

I arrived to the country with some money, but as it turns out, Mexican money burns quickly when put to a Norwegian flame! So, the very first concern was to arrange my migratory status so that I could get paid. The process was simple: apply for a regular working permit (three months wait) sponsored by NTNU, and get a temporary permit while the actual is released (three days wait).

Me and Ola, resident problem-fixer in the Department, went to the police station and queued (queue number 666 for that day, not that I am superstitious or anything) for what was an entire morning. But it was worth it. I had my temporary working permit, a D-number, and the possibility to have a salary, a bank account, etc.

Five months down the road, I hadn't been called. No notifications had arrived by mail, nor had been emailed to me about my regular permit. So I had to go to the HR office and hand them call the police and find out about my application. As it turned out, it had been approved three months before.

It was there, waiting for me.

I went yet again to the police, handed out my passport, and one week later, voila! I had another shiny, micro-printed and sealed page-wide print in my passport which allowed me to stay in the country for the entire two years my contract lasted. I was happy!

The extension process

A few months before I was supposed to finish, my boss and I agreed to extend my stay for another two years. That meant to apply for a new working permit, one month before the first one ended (I was of course two weeks overdue already). I struggled to get all documents and ran through the snow (quite literally) to the police office to apply for the permit before it was too late. I queued and got the 666 number again (thankfully, I was less superstitious this time, so it was kinda cool after all). After another whole morning, I was before the immigration clerk.

As expected, I was scolded (albeit very lightly) for not doing this weeks before, but I explained to them I had only had the second contract in my possession for three days. I was told it would take up to four weeks, but since my work required me to travel out of the country next month (for which I needed to show a valid permit when both exiting and entering Norway), I was graciously granted a priority application, which was not so priority as Easter came in the middle of the promised week. Then a month passed. My international trip was next week. So I called. As it turned out, the permit was approved days before.

It was there, waiting for me. Again.

I went to deliver my passport and smoothly (“Please, ma’am *sob*, I really need this now *sob sob*!!!”) talked the clerk into allowing the permit to be printed that very hour and day, instead of waiting a week. So, I sat for 20 more minutes and then received a rewarding proof I was out of the grey zone of immigration laws, back to legality in Norway.

Yippie!

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About the Author: Gerardo Perez

Gerardo made the unusual move from Mexico to Norway in April 2010. He works at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim and writes regularly about his experiences adapting to Norwegian life.

4 Comments

  1. Hello Gerardo, I am moving to Norway soon. have been reading tha you´re from Durango Mexico? am I correct? I am from Durango. I am moving to Norway next month. I wish to talk to you to ask you some questions, I hope you dont mind. Gracias.

  2. Hi. I’m having some headache for my working permit too. Do you mind if I ask you some questions? Soo …at the SUA they told me the waiting time for my permit was 4 weeks. But it’s been 6 weeks so I emailed the UDI. They told me that I got it all wrong cause the processing time is 3 months. Ok, I get it.
    But I’ve been working almost 2 months now and I still have no money cause I don’t have a D Number (so no bank account) …which is all so frustrating.
    Could you tell me about the temporary working permit you applied for? I applied for a seasonal worker …does it apply to it too?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Lyn, we are no experts in immigration as it depends on so many factors, not least where you’re from, which area you are moving to, how long you intend to stay, if your family are with you, and so many more things. All I can do is point you towards the guidelines and application process on the UDI website. They spell out very clearly the process, and who to contact. Good luck!

    2. Hi,

      Sorry, but no. The Temporary permit, and the D-number it granted me, were just because I applied as a High-skilled worker with a widely recognized employer, i.e. a national university. Most employers and positions with them did not have this benefit.
      Furthermore,I understand this is no longer offered, given many comments from people who have come to the university in similar conditions to me. Also waiting times seem to have increased considerably in all steps of the process, so even European nationals I know would have to wait up to two months before receiving any salary.

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