How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Norway

How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Norway

Norway, formally the Kingdom of Norway, is a country in the northwest of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is often called the country of forests, lakes and fjords; the nature here is truly stunning. Norway is one of the top ten safest countries in the world. Its economy and social policy are considered one of the world’s most advanced. This appeals to foreigners, leading many of them to want to settle here for the rest of their lives. Read on to find out how you can get a temporary and subsequently permanent residence permit in Norway, the requirements that you have to meet and the documents that you must submit.

Why Do Expats Come to Norway?

Norway is a developed European country with a clean environment and beautiful nature. However, it has many more benefits. There are several reasons why foreigners choose to move to Norway.

Well-developed economy

Norway is the main energy supplier in Europe. The northern kingdom also provides the European Union with petroleum products, second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production.

In addition to the power industry, Norway is proactively developing the fishing industry, as well as agriculture; the country is a major food exporter and manufacturer of ships for sale.

While the country’s economy is based on capitalism, the state helps to regulate the market. According to statistics, no more than 1% of companies grow into large enterprises; as such development is not very beneficial, small and medium-sized businesses are preferred.

Ålesund. Photo: Ela Yudhanira (Pexels)

Job opportunities

As Norway is extremely interested in highly-qualified specialists, they are ready to issue visas and residence permits to potential employees who can benefit the country. IT professionals, doctors, engineers and managers are in demand. There is also demand for blue-collar professionals: welders, electricians and fishermen. Agricultural workers, including seasonal workers, are also welcome.

As local employers consider primarily a candidate’s work experience, it will be difficult for a new graduate to get a desired position. You will have to confirm your experience with official documents, for example, labour cards, as in Italy, Germany and France.

There might be another problem: lack of knowledge of the Norwegian language. However, basic knowledge of English is enough to get a job as a simple worker.

High living standards

Norway is one of the most prosperous countries in the world with a high level of income, advanced social services and infrastructure.

The country provides free education to all citizens and permanent residents. Permanent residence permit holders can get primary, secondary and higher public education and are eligible for free medical care.

The country created a strong social security system for its citizens: it provides unemployment, illness, and disability benefits, as well as pensions for elderly people. In some cases, some social benefits are also available to residents.

Travelling within the EU

Norwegian citizens and permanent residence permit holders can live and work in EU countries, even though Norway is not a member. No additional permission is required.

Cons of Living in Norway

The country might seem like a fairy tale, but it still has its drawbacks:

  1. Prices for food, housing, transport, and other things can be several times higher than in other countries.
  2. As Norway is a northern country, be prepared for a cold climate with long winters and short summers.
  3. The state collects high taxes to support the economy and social security system. Personal income tax alone is at least 22%.
  4. The selection of goods is limited in the remote regions of Norway. Due to logistical difficulties, prices for some goods may be even higher than usual. For this reason, Norwegians sometimes go shopping to Sweden for groceries.

How to Get Permanent Residence Permit in Norway

You can only get a permanent residence permit in Norway after obtaining a temporary permit. You need to have lived legally in the country for at least three years, in some cases five years. Only then can a holder of a temporary residence card apply for permanent registration. To apply for permanent residency, you will need:

  • a valid residence permit
  • an employment contract stating that your salary is higher than the subsistence minimum
  • a document from NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration), proving that you have not received any financial aid over the past 12 months
  • a certificate of no criminal record, which you can get from the police station at your place of residence
  • a certificate of no enforced psychiatric treatment
  • a passed test on knowledge of the Norwegian language and social studies

There are four ways to get a temporary residence permit:

  1. Family reunification
  2. Education
  3. Work
  4. As part of business immigration

Troms og Finnmark. Photo: Tobias Bjørkli (Pexels)

Family reunification

Family reunification is a programme under which the relatives of local residents can move to Norway. In other words, anyone living in the country can bring their family here. The grounds for the individual’s stay in the country are irrelevant here; this could even be a foreigner who has a temporary residence permit.

If you are the host relative, you must meet a few requirements: permanent housing and an annual income of USD 28,800. In addition, you must not have received any financial benefits from NAV over the past 12 months.

Admittedly, you can only invite a relative to Norway after four years of living in the country. You are allowed to bring over your spouse, children and parents over the age of 60 if they cannot provide for themselves.

If you apply for this type of residence permit, you will need the following documents:

  • passport and copies of all the used pages
  • two photographs
  • family visa application (you can download the application from the website of the immigration service)
  • birth certificate
  • proof of family relationship (for example, a marriage certificate)
  • confirmation of the host party's income
  • a written declaration that the host party has not received any social benefits

You will also need to pay a fee for the family visa, which is quite high (USD 11,609, in the case of minors - free of charge).

After the approval of your application and your move to Norway, you will need to sign up with the nearest police station on the website of the immigration service to pick up your permanent resident card. You can apply for permanent residency under the family reunification programme after five years of living in the country.

Oslo. Photo: Piotrek Wilk (Pexels) 

Marriage to a Norwegian citizen

Spouses of Norwegian citizens can apply not only for permanent residence, but also for citizenship after three years of marriage and four years of living in the country and vice-versa; the main thing is that your combined residence period and marriage period must be at least seven years.

Study at a Norwegian university

Certain requirements must be met to get a student visa:

  • the university or college must have NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education) accreditation
  • a document of enrolment on hand
  • full-time form of education only
  • a tenancy agreement or proof of housing in Norway

You also need a bank account holding the amount required for tuition and accommodation. At the beginning of 2023, it equaled approximately USD 13,600.

You will need the following documents to get a residence permit:

  • passport and copies of all the used pages
  • two photographs
  • student visa application
  • letter of admission to a school or university
  • tenancy agreement or permission from the individual providing accommodation
  • certificate proving that you have funds for your studies, for example a grant, target education agreement or a bank statement
  • payment receipt if the studies are being provided on a commercial basis

A minor applicant must provide a birth certificate and the passports of parents or guardians. All documents must be translated into Norwegian or English.

Tromsø. Photo: Alex Tai (Unsplash)

Relocation for work

The easiest way to apply for a work visa is to sign up to the website of the Norwegian Directorate for Immigration or send your documents to the local Norwegian embassy. After receiving an offer, you can apply for a residence permit.

List of documents:

  • original passport or international passport
  • two photographs
  • application cover letter
  • an application completed by your Norwegian employer
  • tenancy agreement or statement from the individual providing your accommodation
  • employment contract stating that your salary is a above the subsistence level
  • document on education affixed with an apostille
  • CV
  • documents showing legal grounds for residency if you are in a non-native country (including Norway)
  •  additional documents that may be requested by the immigration service, for example, a written explanation that some documents are missing
  • payment of state duty which equalled about USD 700 at the start of 2023

All the documents must be completed or translated into English or Norwegian. Otherwise, your resident permit application might be denied. After three years of living in Norway on a working residence permit, you can apply for permanent residency.

Photo: Darya Tryfanava (Unsplash)

In Norway, there is a residence permit for seasonal workers. The permit holder works in the country for no more than three months every six months (during harvest, at resorts or camps. You cannot apply for Norwegian permanent residency with this type of residence permit.

Business in Norway

In Norway, foreigners have the opportunity to open their own business which can serve as grounds for obtaining a residence permit. This programme is suitable for candidates with specific educational and work experience, for example, confectioners, architects, photographers, marketing experts and others.

Requirements on candidates:

  • Completed vocational training of at least three years. There must be an equivalent vocational training programme in Norway.
  • Completed university education with a degree, such as a bachelor’s degree.
  • Special qualifications: skills acquired through experience, courses and additional education.

If you do not have a professional education, but extensive experience in a specific area, you can submit recommendations from previous employers. They must confirm that you have all the skills which are taught at universities. However, in this case, it may take longer than usual to process your application, while there is a higher risk of rejection.

There are also requirements on the form of business:

  • The applicant must be the sole owner of the business.
  • The area should comply with the applicant’s education and qualifications (a hospital nurse cannot open a pastry shop).
  • If your business requires permits or licences, you should get them first before applying for a residence permit.
  • According to the business plan, your business must generate at least USD 13,960 per year before taxes.

You must submit the standard set of documents, as diplomas, statements from previous employers and a business plan.

The business residence permit is valid for one year. To extend it, you have to run the business and achieve an income of at least USD 30,240 per year. If your business is not successful, your residence permit will not be extended. You can apply for a permanent residence permit after three years and for citizenship after eight years (if you pass a language test, you can have dual citizenship).

Oslo. Photo: Ben Garratt (Unsplash)

Can I Get a Permanent Residence Permit in Norway for the Purchase of Real Estate?

No. Buying a property in Norway does not give you the right to either a permanent or temporary residence permit. The purchase of real estate only entitles you to a multi-entry visa.

In a Nutshell

Norway is a country with high living standards. Despite the high taxes and northern climate, business people, students and workers in different sectors want to move here. Most of the social benefits are available to residence permit holders in Norway.

You are only eligible for permanent residency in Norway after first obtaining temporary residency. You also need to have lived in the country for three to five years, depending on the grounds. A temporary residence permit is issued in four cases: to students, the relatives of expats and residents of the country, as well as people who want to open a business in Norway or take up employment in a sector in demand.

Cover photo: Nextvoyage (Pexels) 

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