Why foreigners with Norwegian partners are more likely to become citizens

Your choice to apply for Norwegian citizenship and stay in the country may be determined by the nationality of your spouse, according to data from Statistics Norway (SSB).

Why foreigners with Norwegian partners are more likely to become citizens
Photo: Mikita Karasiou on Unsplash

The bureau has assessed the citizenship status of the 850,000 foreigners who moved to Norway between 2005 and 2019. Of these, about 100,000 have become Norwegian citizens.

Foreign nationals married to a Norwegian will tend to obtain Norwegian citizenship within four years, compared to seven years for those without a Norwegian spouse, the report shows.

The reason is linked to the fact that having a Norwegian spouse may make you eligible for citizenship in a shorter amount of time.

Nearly everybody who become a Norwegian citizen (95 percent) has also chosen to remain in Norway. For those who do not change their citizenship, one in three have left the country.

Norway has long denied people the possibility of dual citizenship. In order for people to become Norwegian citizens, they have therefore had to forfeit their other citizenship. This constraint, however, was lifted one year ago. SSB believes a higher number of foreign nationals may now want to get Norwegian citizenship.

Other factors also impacted on citizenship status. The SSB data reveals that only 1-3 percent of foreigners who moved to Norway for work or studies were Norwegian citizens by 2019, compared to 12 percent for people who moved to the country to reunite with their family.

For refugees, however, the number is much higher. In fact, a quarter of this group have become Norwegian citizens.

READ ALSO: Meet the foreigners in Norway still waiting for dual citizenship

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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.