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How to get a work permit in Norway

Looking to settle down in the land of Vikings and fjords? Great choice! This country's work-life balance is hard to beat, and you will never tire of the majestic landscape. Before you begin to uproot, you should be aware of a few rules and regulations first. 

Downtown Ålesund.
Downtown Ålesund. Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

Finding a job first is key

If you’re looking to establish a life in Norway, you’ll need to find a job. And if you are a resident of a country that is not a part of the EU, your situation can get a little tricky. First, you’ll need a residence permit. And to obtain a residence permit, you usually will have had to find a job first. 

You can look at the rules that apply to the country you are planning to move from here.

No matter your nationality, it would be wise to research the different types of work permits Norway offers first. And find out which one you qualify for before you pay the very expensive, 6,300 kroner in most cases, application fee. 

What is a skilled worker working permit? 

You can qualify as a skilled worker if you have completed higher education or vocational training. A skilled worker must also have shown they have work experience in their specific field before applying for the skilled worker permit. 

If you have received a skilled worker permit but have yet to receive a residence permit, you can apply for an entry visa to come and live in Norway until your residence permit has been completed. 

Note that your job offer/contract must be for a full-time position for this type of permit. If it is for 80 percent, then it will be accepted. But anything less, and your application will be denied. 

What if I don’t have a job offer but am qualified as a skilled worker? 

As previously stated, there is no blanket answer for everyone who applies, and the rules are based heavily on your nationality. We can use the United States, for example. If you apply for a job-seeking visa after qualifying as a skilled worker from the U.S, you can come to Norway to look for a job. But first, you must also prove you have enough money in your account to live in the country while you search for a job. At a minimum, a job seeker applicant needs to have at least 22,670 kroner (2,508 dollars) per month in available funds. This must be your own money, and proof of these funds will be a mandatory part of your application. 

Can I receive a work permit if I am a seasonal worker?

Before you check the specific rules relating to your nationality when applying as a seasonal worker to work within Norway, know that many trades, such as painting and carpentry, do not qualify as seasonal. 

You must also be 18 years old to apply as a seasonal worker and receive a job offer. The work contract you receive must be for full-time work for the entire time you are staying in the country in order for your application to be granted.  

READ ALSO: How to find a winter sports job in Norway

How long do I usually have to wait before I receive an answer on my application for a work permit?

This question is, again, situational based. Though no matter where you look on the UDI site or The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration’s site, there are warning posts of increased waiting times due to the coronavirus pandemic on almost all types of visa and permit applications with no concrete answers to how long it may take. 

Useful vocabulary and facts

Norway does a lot of transactions digitally. And applying for a work or residence permit will likely be one of the first realistic impressions you get over how this country conducts business. Once you’ve decided what type of work permit you wish to apply for, you will start the process here, at the application portal within UDI’s website. 

If you are one of the lucky employees who have received a job contract with a company that takes care of the work permit application process for you, then congratulations. This can be a challenging and somewhat confusing process at times, having to stay on track with your nationalities rules. But you’re not entirely off the hook. Discuss your application with your Norwegian employer, or international employer based in Norway, to follow your application process and be aware of any documents and information you may need to contribute at a moment’s notice. 

Thinking about hiring an immigration lawyer to help you with your work permit? This could be a great idea and worth the money spent to save your time and keep your stress levels low. But what is most necessary to keep in mind if you take this route is to do diligent research and find an immigration lawyer with a stellar reputation. Also, don’t be afraid to ask around. The names of good immigration lawyers within the international communities in Norway are often readily given to help fellow utlendinger or “foreigners” out. 

Remember, The Local does have its own English language jobs page if you are currently looking for a job in Norway.

jobbsøker – job seeker

intervju – interview

ledig stilling – available position/ vacancy 

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For members


What is Norway’s job market like for foreigners at the moment?

Currently, unemployment in Norway is at a very low level - but does that mean there are more job opportunities for foreigners in the country? 

What is Norway’s job market like for foreigners at the moment?

Unemployment in Norway remains at the low level of 2.6 percent of the workforce, according to the latest figures published by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) for August,

At the end of the previous month, there were 76,900 registered fully and partially unemployed workers, as well as people looking for jobs receiving assistance from the NAV. 

Some Norwegian media commentators and politicians have openly stated that this is a fantastic opportunity to have more people enter the workforce.

In early September, Labour and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen stated that employers should make use of the “particularly favourable times” and include “vulnerable groups in the work life.” 

According to Mjøs Persen, employers should pay particular attention to applicants with somewhat different skill and experience profiles. 

Should employers in Norway take heed of the minister’s words, this year could offer substantial opportunities for international workers looking to find a job in the country. 

READ ALSO: Why you should learn Norwegian even if you don’t need it for work

NAV: 2022 is a good year for foreigners seeking work in Norway

The Labour and Inclusion Minister is backed in her assessment by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, which believes this is a good year for foreigners looking for work opportunities in Norway.

“Developments in the Norwegian labour market this year are good for foreigners seeking work. The demand for labour is very high, and the unemployment rate is very low. 

“In fact, the unemployment rate has not been as low as it is now since before the financial crisis in 2008. In 2022, there has been a very high number of vacancies available for jobseekers,” Johannes Sørbø, a Senior Adviser at the Directorate of Labour, told The Local.

Furthermore, Sørbø pointed out that many different industries are looking for workers.

“There is a significant labour shortage in the health sector; skilled nurses, in particular, are in demand. There is also a labour shortage in the building and construction industry, especially in carpentry and other skilled workers in general. 

“Other occupations with a shortage (of labour) include cooks and ICT (information and communication technology) and -related professions,” the Senior Adviser noted.

Stormy skies ahead?

Despite the currently encouraging situation in Norway’s job market, it seems that the positive trend might be short-lived, as several indicators point to adverse developments in the years ahead.

In September, NAV director Hans Christian Holte warned that the decline in unemployment might soon stop and that unemployment had already somewhat increased among young people in August.

On the other hand, Statistics Norway (SSB) also recently updated its economic forecast. In June, the SSB estimated that the Norwegian economy would go through a period of growth during the year. 

Now, as the overall situation in the economy has worsened, it believes that Norway is moving toward a recession – most likely within a period of several years – due to inflation, interest rate increases, and international factors. 

According to NTB, the national statistics bureau believes that the Norwegian economy will continue to grow during the expected recession but warns that economic activity is likely to decrease, which typically leads to higher unemployment.  

Furthermore, it predicts unemployment will increase to 4.2 percent in 2025 – a marked increase compared to the current unemployment levels. 

However, not all is negative in the SSB’s new forecast, as the bureau predicts that the increased unemployment and lower economic growth might lead to Norges Bank lowering interest rates at the end of 2023.

READ MORE: Could a recession be on the cards for Norway?