How to become a permanent resident of Norway and stay in the country for good.
Becoming a permanent resident of Norway is a goal for many new arrivals.
It offers more protection than a regular work permit, which is usually linked to a specific job, but stops short of having to become a Norwegian citizen.
The rules for permanent residence are complex and depend on many things, but the most relevant are your country of citizenship and the length of time you have lived in Norway.
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How to become a permanent resident of Norway
Whichever category you fall into, the application must be started on the UDI website, and an appointment made with your local police station or immigration office, where your application and documentation will be received.
During the application process, you will receive a checklist of documentation that you will be expected to hand over.
What documents are on that checklist will depend on several things.
People who have lived in Norway for at least five years using the EU/EEA registration scheme can apply for a permanent right of residence.
This entitles you to stay and work in Norway indefinitely, and your family members may also be eligble.
In practical terms this permanent right of residence makes very little difference to most people, as the EU/EEA registration never has to be renewed.
However, there are slightly improved protections against expulsion for those with a permanent right of residence, and I know of several Brits who have taken this option recently in order to firm up their position ahead of the great Brexit unknowns.
The process is relatively easy, although a lot of paperwork is required. This includes a transcript from the National Population Register, employment contracts, and tax returns covering the full five year period, and any supporting documentation such as a house purchase contract.
This is presented along with the completed application at your local police station or immigration office, and all being well, you'll receive the confirmation letter in the post several months later.
The process for permanent residence is similar for non-European citizens. Although the length of time you need to have been living in Norway is less, the other requirements are greater.
You must have lived in Norway for the past three years holding valid residence permits. It's important to note that not all residence permits count towards permanent residence.
Update: As of December 2020, the period of residency has now been extended to five years for refugees and their families. Read the full story here.
You must also have completed the mandatory tuition in the Norwegian language and social studies, and pass the relevant tests, with some minor exceptions.
Which exams you need to take will depend upon your personal circumstances. Use the tool on the UDI website to find out what applies to you.
During 2017, these requirements for language ability were tightened. Applicants also cannot have been convicted of a criminal offence, or been ordered to undergo enforced psychiatric treatment or care.
New requirements from 2017
All applicants must personally fulfil the stated income requirements for the previous year.
This means the applicant must have earned a pre-tax income of at least NOK 238,784 over the previous 12 months, and cannot have received any social security payments from NAV during the same period.
Once the paperwork is completed and accepted by the police or immigration office, you will receive a phone call or email if you need to supply any additional information.
The processing time for permanent residence varies, but is typically 3-6 months.
It's important to know that any existing work or residence permits do not get automatically extended just because you are waiting for a decision on permanent residence, so it's vital to follow the usual process for extending your regular permit while applying for permanent residence.