Meet the foreigners in Norway still waiting for dual citizenship

Meet the foreigners in Norway still waiting for dual citizenship
Wendy Harrison has now booked an appointment for the end of October. Photo: Private
After Norway finally allowed dual citizenship in January, many foreigners who have been living in the country for decades decided to apply. Most are still waiting for an appointment.
Mai Phan, a 31-year-old from Vietnam who has been living in Norway for nine years, put her application in back in February, and was given an appointment with the police in March. 
 
“Then coronavirus came and basically everything was cancelled, and for now I don't even know when I will be able to get my appointment,” she said.
 
 
Wendy Harrison had been living in Norway for 32 years before the country's decision to allow dual citizenship, combined with Brexit, made her decide to apply to become a Norwegian citizen. 
 
When she applied in mid-March, she managed to pay the fee of close to 4,000 kroner before applying, but then found the system had closed down.  
 
“Once you'd paid your money, you found out they'd already stopped taking appointments, but it didn't say that on the form, ” she said. 
 
She soon realised that even if she had managed to book one, it wouldn't have made that much difference though.  
 
“All the people who had had appointments had them all cancelled anyway,” said. 
 
It was only on Thursday that she took another look at the application site and realised that it had opened up again for appointment. She booked the first available one, on October 23rd. 
 
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Both of them had been living in Norway for so long, that they are certain of getting permanent residency. 
 
“I'm not really planning to travel anywhere, so technically I could wait a bit longer, but seeing as I've already paid and organised all my documents, I'd like to get an appointment,” Phan said. 
 
She said she had no complaints about the decision to cancel her appointment in March, however.  “I understand why you couldn't get an appointment during coronavirus.”  
 
Harrison said she would never have considered applying if it had meant losing her British citizenship. 
 
“I'd never consider giving up my British citizenship,” she explained. “I don't feel 100 percent Norwegian.” 
 
But, the appeal of remaining part of Schengen, and retaining the ability to live and work freely across the European Union, convinced her to apply. 
 
“For a whole we were thinking that we'd be moving to Brussels, and that might be a bit complicated if I wasn't even in the EU any more,” she said. 
 
Mai Phan wearing a hat befitting her future citizenship. Photo: Private
 
For Mai Phan, it was more about convenience. 
 
“I thought it would be nice to not have to renew my permanent residency every two years,” she said. 
 
“Also, my husband is Norwegian, and we have a son who has Norwegian citizenship as well. So if we travel, I have to apply for visas and they don't, and also at certain airports we can't queue in the same line, so  it's more convenient.” 
 
Both of them met their Norwegian husbands at university, Harrison in the UK in the mid 1980s, and Phan in the US at the start of the last decade. 
 
As well as the delays, Harrison said that Norway's authorities also appeared to have dropped the fast-track system it had previously promised long-term residents. 
 
“They said that people who were obviously going to get citizenship were going to be fast-tracked, but now, after coronavirus, that has never been on offer. So now it's the same for everybody.” 
 
When her appointment does come up in October, Harrison said she would still have mixed feelings. 
 
“I still feel a bit weird about it, I don't think I'm ever going to feel Norwegian, it doesn't feel right somehow,” she said. “I didn't think I would ever feel at all sentimental about being British.” 
 

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