Immigration from Outside Europe

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Immigration to Norway

Moving to Norway from outside the EU/EEA is possible for skilled workers, students and various other categories.

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.

How to move to Norway

Immigration 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:

  • Visit
  • Family immigration
  • Work immigration
  • Study permit
  • Permanent residence
  • Au ­pair

Now we shall look at each of these in more detail:

The village of Olden on the Nordfjord in Norway


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.

Family Immigration

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 bring their partner and children to live with them.

If you have a Norwegian parent, you can also apply through the family immigration system, but the parent must have an income of at least NOK 260,744 per year pre-tax.

Work Immigration

If you wish to come to Norway to work, you need a residence permit. You must normally have found a job first, although there is a permit available for job seekers, with restrictions. 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.

Working as a lawyer in Norway

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 421,700 pre-tax if the job requires a master's degree, or at least 391,800 per year pre-tax if the job requires a bachelor's degree.

In this category of permit, you can normally bring your close family with you. Job seekers can apply for a permit for up to six months, but they must fall into the skilled worker category.

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 242,966 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 with a salary that meets the minimum industry level. 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 242,966 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.

Study permit

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 116,369 per year to live on.

This amount can be made up of student loans, grants, own funds that you have deposited in a Norwegian bank account or the deposit account of the educational institution. You can also include income from a part-time job if you've already secured one.

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.

Permanent residence

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.

Norway troll holding a flag

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 time spent living in Norway under a study permit does not count towards the time needed for 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. More details here.

Au pair

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. Learn more here.


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.

How to move to Norway from outside Europe

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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21 thoughts on “Immigration from Outside Europe”

    • There is no citizenship test, but you have to have documented proof of fluency in Norwegian along with at least 7 years of residency (in most cases) to aplly for citizenship. Those from outside of Europe may also need to take a social studies course. The rules are similar for permanent residence, which is described above.

      • hello what is it like when ur kids are norwagian and u spent almost 17months and my husband brought me back home .I dont know if my permit is still valid or not

  1. I am currently serving in Norway with the Royal Norwegian Air Force on a 3 year exchange programme from the RAF (UK). I have 2 years left on my posting but wish to move my girlfriend here who is from the US (complex I know). Any advice on the feasibility of this?

    • The rules for UK citizens remain as they were until Brexit negotiations take place, but who knows what they will be in two years time. The rules for American citizens are as above. Best to contact UDI for any specific queries. Good luck!

  2. I am looking to relocate from the states to Norway, especially now with the political upheaval here.

    • I do too! I am torn between trying to keep life stable here for my two children, ages 11 and 15, and let my son at least finish high school, and my dream of living and working in Norway. I was a student there in 1986-87 and I went back twice to visit dear friends, even as recently as 2015. I still speak fairly fluently and I want to give my kids the chance to live and experience another culture. Plus, where I live is on fire and the entire country seems to be being gutted from the inside. I am not certain Americans fleeing the Trump regime qualify for asylum seekers, but it’s getting close! But I haven’t worked in 15 years while I’ve raised kids. And now I’m widowed. So . . . maybe I just want to experience a joyful time of my 20s again? I am looking into it. Maybe rent out my house here in California and try to live in Norway for at least a year. But I’d want to work, too.

  3. Hi, I want to immigrate to Norway. I am a Pakistani citizen and for past 15 years living in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am self employed and 52 years old with wife and 3 kids ages from 20 to 16.

  4. Hi there . I am planing to open my own business in Oslo i would like to know what are the requirments ? Is there a residency permit for investors?

  5. I am a citizen of the US. I am a 28 year old female with bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. I am currently on my 4th year apprenticing for a jeweler. I am desparate to move to Norway, if only for a year or two. Do I have any options? It seems like I don’t :-/

    Thank you!!

  6. I want to retire in Norway from the USA. I don’t plan on working or going to school. Just want to live and relax. Do you know if there are any waivers for some of the requirements for retirees?

  7. I am from abroad, will I be able to try for immigration?. I have never studied there and all, but i would like to search job there

  8. Some nationalities, eg Australian, American, Canadian, do not need a visa to travel to countries in the Schengen area (ie most of Europe except Russia, UK, Croatia etc) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you leave the Schengen area and return within the same 180-day period, the previous stay will count towards the 90 day maximum.
    If you exceed the 90 days within the 180-day period of legal stay in the Schengen area without a valid visa, you may be fined or banned from entering the Schengen area. So, you can only stay in Norway for 90 days if you have not visited any other Schengen country in the previous 6 months. In that case you can only visit for as long as the difference between 90 days and the length of time you stayed in another Schengen country. Confusing! You bet.! An example: if you travel to Europe and stay 10 days in France, 10 days in Germany, 10 days in Spain, then pop over to Sweden for 5 days, you can only stay in Norway for 25 days. After that you must leave, and cannot go to any other Schengen country for another 3 months. You’ve used up your allocation of 90 days within 180 days.

  9. It says to gain permanent residence status you must reside in Norway for 3 years continually. How many days must you stay in Norway per year to achieve eligibility for permanent residency?

    • I’ve read many articles and I really dont understand how to go about the immigration process. I’m currently living in the US and it would be me my fiance and child moving. I dont exactly fit the skilled worker category. (I work on the inland rivers in the eastern United states) Is their a way i could find out if i can qualify for immigration before moving? Via email? Who do I need to contact? Exc.

  10. Sorry to “resuscitate” this old subject but I would like your feedback on the residence permit in Norway for the job seeker.
    I am a versatile sailor (offshore / ship) and I would like to settle in Norway with a visit visa then apply for a residence permit.
    Is it possible to obtain a residence permit for job seekers for this trade?
    How do you find life in Norway and what city do you recommend?

  11. Hi David Dear
    I have read all the information on immigration and founding a company in Norway and have been following Norwegian law for some time. But unfortunately I didn’t find any Iranians living in Iran and I was planning to emigrate to Norway. Can Iranians residing in Iran also be granted a Norwegian residence permit by establishing a self-employed company?
    Please answer me .

  12. Hi David,

    I’m from outside Europe and expecting to hear from UDI soon (it’s been 16 months since I applied for a family reunification to join my wife).

    I’ve been through almost all the articles you and your team publish which helped me to prepare a lot (tusen takk). Though, I still don’t have a clear idea of what to expect for the first 3-6 months (when will I be able to start norskkurs? apply for a job etc.). Any information will mean a lot to me.

    Thanks a lot


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