How many people move to Norway for family reasons, and where do they come from?

Figures from the UDI have revealed how many people were granted family immigration permits in 2021 or registered as moving to be with family.

A family in Ålesund.
Figures have revealed how many moved to Norway last year on the basis of reuniting with family. Pictures is a woman with her child in Ålesund. Photo by Andrei Miranchuk on Unsplash

Statistics from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) have revealed how many people were either granted a family immigration permit or registered with authorities as having moved to Norway to be with family in 2021.

Family immigration permits are issued based on the relative of the applicant being a Nordic citizen, or having legal residence or asylum in Norway. The applicants are normally the partner or spouse, child or parent, sibling, or in some cases another relative of someone living in Norway.

Residence permits for family reasons are generally issued to those from countries outside the European Economic Area or EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), while those moving to Norway to be with family are required to register with the police as living in Norway.

Last year 24,507 EEA nationals registered with the police, and of those, 4,582 said they made the move for family reasons.

Polish nationals made up over a quarter of all EEA nationals who registered with the police as moving to Norway for family reasons. 1,719 Poles registered with the authorities as moving to reunite with family last year. Lithuanians were the second largest group to register with the police as moving for family, followed by German, Romanian, and Latvian citizens.

Citizens from Spain, Greece, France, Bulgaria and Italy made up the rest of the ten largest groups to tell authorities that they moved to Norway to reunite with family.

READ ALSO: How many people move to Norway for work, and where do they come from?

Last year, the UDI issued 10,197 family immigration permits to non-EEA nationals. Eritrean nationals were the group to be granted the most family immigration permits. Of the 987 residence permits for family immigration issued to Eritreans, 146 were given to those reuniting with a Nordic citizen, 514 were issued on the basis of the family member in Norway having permanent residence, and 306 were handed out to those whose family members have been granted asylum. The other 21 permits were handed out for different reasons

Indian nationals were the next largest group to be granted family immigration permits. Most residence cards given to Indians for family reasons were issued to nationals whose relatives and partners had work permits, followed by family members with permanent residence or the relation in Norway being a Nordic citizen.

841 Syrians were granted family immigration permits. Over half were issued to those reuniting with a family member or partner who have been granted asylum. Many family immigration permits were also handed to Syrian nationals who had a family member with permanent residence in Norway.

UK nationals and American citizens were the next largest groups to receive family immigration permits. Brits were handed 841 family immigration permits. Of those, 119 were issued to Brits who had a relative with permanent residence, 72 were for UK nationals with a Nordic relative, 117 were for Brits whose family or partner had a work permit and nine were granted a residence because they had a relative who had themselves been given a family immigration permit. The remaining 343 permits were issued for other reasons.

Of the 541 family immigration permits issued to Americans, 220 were given to those with a relative or partner from the Nordics, 18 were issued to those with a family member with permanent residence. In addition, 249 permits were issued to Americans who had relatives with a work permit, with the rest being granted to those who had a relative with an education visa, family permit, or for other reasons.

Citizens from The Philippines, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Iran were the next largest groups to receive family immigration patients.

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How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.