How did Covid-19 affect immigration in Norway in 2020?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How did Covid-19 affect immigration in Norway in 2020?
Trondheim Harbour, Central Norway. Photo by Simon Williams on Unsplash

Last year saw the lowest number of people immigrate to Norway since 2005 due to the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions, according to a report from Statistics Norway. 


Last year, 24,400 non-Nordic citizens immigrated to Norway for the first time in 2020, Statistics Norway’s report states.

This was far fewer than the year before when 38,400 non-Nordic citizens relocated to the Scandinavian country and is the lowest number for 15 years.

The report stated that the main reason for the drop was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions introduced as a result of it. 

"The reduced immigration is mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic," The report stated. 

Work was the most common reason for people upping sticks to Norway. Just over 11,000 people made the move for work. 

"The reduced immigration for work must mainly be attributed to restrictions due to the corona pandemic," the report said.  

Meanwhile, 8,300 moved for family reasons. In addition to this, 2,500 refugees were granted residence, and 2,200 people were given residence for education. The rest immigrated for other reasons such as medical treatment, sport, or the performing arts. 

Reason for immigrating since 1990. Source: Statistics Norway

The numbers for 2020 were less than half of the peak of 57,000 people in 2012. 


Poles made up the largest group of migrant workers immigrating to Norway. Just over 2,600 Poles settled in Norway for work during 2020. Lithuanians were the second largest group, with 1,200 Lithuanian workers relocating to Norway. 

Romanians were the third largest group of people to move for work, followed by people from the UK, Germany, Spain, India and Latvia. 

Family immigration was at its lowest level for over 20 years. 5,900 people moved to reunite with family, and 2,400 people came to the Nordic country to establish a family. The number of people immigrating for family reasons has been decreasing since 2017. 

READ MORE: Safe but pricey: What international residents think of life in Norway 

Last year saw a significant decline in the number of refugees being granted residence. In 2015, 15,000 refugees settled in Norway compared to less than 2,500 in 2020. 

Those who do move to Norway are likely to stick it out. Between 1990 and 2020, 932,000 non-Nordic citizens immigrated to Norway. Of these, over 650,000 were still registered as living in Norway as of January 1st 2021. 

Those who move to Norway for education are the least likely to settle in the country. Refugees are the most likely to stay in Norway; 85 percent of refugees remain in Norway, and 77 percent of those who move for family end up staying. 

Out of the 320,000 migrant workers who came to Norway in the past 30 years, 65 percent have decided to stay in Norway. 



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