Meet the foreigners in Norway still waiting for dual citizenship

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.

Meet the foreigners in Norway still waiting for dual citizenship
Wendy Harrison has now booked an appointment for the end of October. Photo: Private
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. 
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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Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

A Norwegian passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. So, what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Norway? 

Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

Norway opened the door to dual citizenship two years ago, meaning foreign residents could become citizens of the country without giving up their existing passport. 

Norwegian citizenship comes with a number of benefits, whether it’s the right to vote, being automatically enrolled into the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, or simply having a Norwegian passport, one of the most powerful travel documents available. 


Some may assume that because their children were born in Norway, they will be entitled to citizenship automatically. However, this isn’t the case and not all children born in Norway automatically become Norwegian citizens.  

If both parents are foreign nationals

Children who are born to two parents who are foreign nationals and who are not citizens of Norway do not automatically become citizens. 

Instead, parents will need to apply for a residence permit if the parents are from outside the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), register the child as an EU/EEA national if they are nationals from within the EU/EEA, or apply for a residence permit under the family immigration rules

If you are required to apply for residence for the child, you will need to do so before they turn one. 

Those who are adopted, are under 18  and have an adoption licence issued by Norwegian authorities automatically become Norwegian citizens if they were adopted after September 1st 2006. 

To be eligible for citizenship, if both parents are non-Norwegian citizens, the child will need to be over 12, live in Norway and plan on living in the Scandinavian country in the future. They will also need to have lived in Norway for five of the past seven years and held residence permits valid for more than a year each. Those over 15 will need to apply for a criminal record certificate. You must also fulfil all the permanent residency requirements while the UDI process your application. This means you must not have been outside of Norway for a total of ten months in the last five years. 

Children over 16 will need to have completed mandatory training in the Norwegian language and passed the concluding tests, or if they have received a final assessment grade in Norwegian at secondary school or upper secondary school, they can apply to the municipality for an exemption. 

You can apply here. Application fees for children under 18 are waived. There will also be an ID check to confirm your identity. 

As the applicant is under 18 the parent will be applying on the child’s behalf. 

If one parent is a Norwegian citizen

Children with one parent who is a Norwegian citizen and born after September 1st 2006 automatically become Norwegian citizens at birth.

This applies regardless of whether the child was born abroad or if the parents were married at the time. 

The rules are tighter for offspring born before September 1st 2006, though. Those born before this date are Norwegian citizens from birth if their mother was Norwegian, or their father was Norwegian and married to the mother before the birth, or if the father died before birth, was Norwegian and was married to the mother at the time of his death. 

However, those born to a Norwegian father but who aren’t automatically citizens can become citizens relatively easily by handing in a notification of Norwegian citizenship. You can do this in Norway or from abroad. 

Those born before 1979 will need to contact the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), as per the immigration directorate’s advice

If I become a Norwegian citizen after my child is born, do my children qualify for Norwegian citizenship? 

Children under 18 can also apply for citizenship if their parents have become Norwegian since the child was born or are applying for Norwegian citizenship. 

When the parent is applying for citizenship, the parent’s and child’s applications can be lodged together. Joint applications also require the parent to meet the citizenship requirements that apply to them

Under these circumstances, the child must have resided in Norway for the past two years and held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year. To qualify as having stayed in Norway for two years, the child must not have been abroad for more than two months per calendar year for two years. These rules apply to children aged between two and 18. 

The rules for children younger than two are slightly different

We moved to Norway after our child was born, what are the citizenship rules for them? 

Children under 18 and over 12 can apply for citizenship. They must live in the country full time, have a valid resident permit when they apply and whilst the application is processed.

They must have also been a full time resident of Norway for five of the last seven years. In addition to this, applicants over 15 must submit a criminal record certificate and meet the requirements for permanent residence. 

If one or both of the parents is a Nordic citizen and the child has lived in Norway for two years you can apply once you are over the age of 12.