Australian says Norway has left her ‘stateless’

Cecilie Myhre was born in Norway to a Norwegian family that goes back generations. She spent most of her life in the country before moving to Australia 14 years ago. Now she says that the country of her birth has left her stateless.

Australian says Norway has left her ‘stateless’
Cecilie Myhre (right) and Donna Fox are the co-founders of the 'Yes to dual citizenship' lobby group. Photo: Submitted
Myhre became an Australian citizen in 2009 but in order to do so she had to renounce her Norwegian citizenship. When she then moved back to Norway in 2013, she found herself living as a foreigner in her own country. 
She wanted to be a Norwegian again but because Norway does not recognize dual citizenship she has been left in a most unusual situation. 
Myhre told The Local that she “is without a valid travel document and about to become stateless due to Norway´s practice of single citizenship”.
Only able to once again be legally recognized as Norwegian by renouncing her Australian citizenship, Myhre said she is caught in a state of limbo. 
“Norway requires that people are renounced from their citizenship before they can become a Norwegian citizen. After renunciation, Norway can take weeks or months to process the proof of renunciation, during which time the person is both stateless and without a valid travel document,” she said. 
Planned trip in jeopardy
Myhre said she formally surrendered her Australian passport and citizenship certificate last week but has been told by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration that it could be weeks before it processes her new citizenship paperwork. After that, she’ll have to wait another couple weeks before she can get a passport. 
Myhre said this presents a serious problem.
“I'm travelling to Australia on October 29th so this issue is certainly affecting my travel plans,” she told The Local. 
She accused Norway of violating its commitments on statelessness and the right to free movement. 
“Article 15 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person has a right to a citizenship and that people have a right to leave any country including their own and return to that country. Norway has ratified this declaration,” Myhre said. 
She also pointed to Norway’s ratification of the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own” (Article 12, point 2) and the European Convention on Nationality which says that “Each State Party shall permit the renunciation of its nationality provided the persons concerned do not thereby become stateless’ (Article 8, point 1).
'Yes to dual citizenship'
According to Myhre, there is a very simple way Norway could live up to the conventions: allow dual citizenship. 
Myhre is the co-founder of the group ‘Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap’ (Yes to dual citizenship), which is lobbying for an end to Norway’s ban on dual citizenship. 
She told The Local in August that “the political winds are definitely changing”
“The [political] parties are starting to understand that the argument frequently used – which is loyalty – is emotion-based and not backed by any facts or data, that dual citizenship does not threaten Norwegian culture or values, and that dual citizenship does not mean it will be easier to be a Norwegian citizen,” Myhre and fellow co-founder Donna Fox wrote at the time. 
Norway is the only Nordic country and one of only a small handful of European nations that does not allow dual citizenship.
In March, a parliamentary committee formally asked the government to look in to changing the policy. The results of the study are due next month and Myhre said she expects that Norway will eventually decide to allow dual citizenship. She said the change can’t happen soon enough. 
“If there is political will to introduce dual citizenship in Norway, it will be a while before it takes effect. In the best case scenario we're talking one to two years from now. In the worst case scenario, there will be no vote in parliament [or] the proposition to introduce dual citizenship won't receive enough votes,” she said. 

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REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote.