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How to apply for permanent residency in Norway

How to apply for permanent residency in Norway
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Permanent residency enables foreign nationals to live and work in Norway indefinitely, but a series of criteria must be fulfilled before it can be granted.

Before you can apply for permanent residence (PR), you must already have lived legally in Norway (with a residence permit) for at least three years.

You can then begin to look at whether you fulfil the other requirements for PR.

If you are registered as an EU/EEA national

If you have lived in Norway continuously for five years or more and have been registered for residence as an EU national – for example, if you are from Ireland, France or Germany – you can apply for permanent residence.

The period of residence is calculated from the date you originally fulfilled the requirements for residence in Norway (normally, following your registration or application for residency when you initially moved to the country).

You must have had the right to reside in Norway throughout those five years – in practical terms, this means you must have been an employee or self-employed, a student or have lived in Norway with sufficient funds. Periods of involuntary unemployment, or not working due to illness or injury, can be included in the five-year period. You can also qualify through being a family member a person who fulfils these requirements.

Some exceptions to the five-year rule apply: for example, if your retire, become permanently unable to work, or have lived in another EEA country while commuting to your workplace in Norway. In these cases, you may be able to apply for PR with under five years of residence in Norway.

For your prior residence in Norway to be considered ‘continuous’, you must not have lived outside the country for more than six months during a year. Some exceptions apply, including for pregnancy and illness.

When applying for PR, you must provide documentation for the above (length of residency and basis for residence), along with your passport or ID card. You can show the original and hand in a copy of each document.

If you have been working continuously, however, you do not need to provide documentation of basis for residence, as the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can collect the relevant data from tax authorities.

For all other circumstances, you need to provide documentation. This can include a doctor’s note saying that you couldn’t work for health reasons; Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) paperwork if you have been involuntarily unemployed or retired; registrations, contracts or VAT receipts of you have been self-employed; or proof that you have had sufficient funds or were a student during the relevant periods.

You must hand in application and paperwork with local authorities – commonly a local police station, Immigration Office or Service Centre for Foreign Workers (SUA). The UDI website provides the relevant local information once you enter the municipality in which you live. You can also download the application form from the UDI website.

The UDI website starting page for the application form is here.

Residents who are not EU or EEA nationals

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Citizens of countries outside of the EU and EEA, such as the United States or Australia, may meet the requirements for PR after three years or more of residence in the country, depending on which other criteria they fulfil. These rules are also applicable to children under the age of one year who were born in Norway.

You must begin applying for PR, starting from the UDI’s application portal at least three months before your normal residency expires and book an appointment with the police. It is important to act well in advance – the UDI advises waiting times can be up to several weeks.

You must then hand in your documents at the time of the appointment, which must be no later than one month before your residency expires.

It is important to note that your current residency rights continue while your application is being processed, even if that exceeds the expiry of your existing residency. If your PR application is rejected, you will not lose your non-permanent residency, provided you still fulfil the requirements for it.

The following criteria apply for United States (as an example) citizens who are applying for PR in Norway:

  • Continuous residence in Norway for the past three years. See above for a definition of continuous residence.
  • You must have held the relevant, valid residency permits throughout those three years, and still hold them at the time of application.
  • You must be financially self-sufficient, meaning that you must have fulfilled income requirements for the last 12 months, without receiving social security (NAV) assistance. More details on income requirements can be found on the UDI website, but the base rule is that, during the last year, you must have had a total income of at least 246,246 kroner (pre-tax).
  • You must not have any criminal convictions.
  • You must fulfil Norwegian language requirements.
  • You need to have requisite knowledge of Norwegian society.

The exact requirements for the final two points above vary depending on factors including your age and the date when you were originally granted Norwegian residency.  As an example, if you are aged between 16 and 54 and moved to Norway after January 1st 2016, you will need to document 550 hours of Norwegian lessons, a 50-hour course in social studies and passed examinations in both. Exemptions can apply if, for example, you have studied in Norway (in Norwegian).

To check the exact criteria for your personal situation, click here. You must take documentation for each of these requirements when you hand in your application.

Finally, you will have to pay a fee for your PR application to be processed. The fee increased substantially from 3,100 kroner in 2019 to 4,700 kroner in 2020 for adults.

You must hand in application and paperwork with local authorities – commonly a local police station, Immigration Office or Service Centre for Foreign Workers (SUA). The UDI website provides the relevant local information once you enter the municipality in which you live, including on how to book an appointment to hand in your application.

You can download the application form from the UDI website.

The UDI website starting page for the application form is here.

Once you have successfully applied for Norwegian PR, you will be issued with a residence card. This card remains valid for two years, after which you will have to renew it. The card replaced an older type of permit in the form of a sticker affixed to passports.

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