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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

Why your Norwegian citizenship application might be rejected and how to avoid it

Norwegian citizenship comes with many benefits, however, several requirements need to be met to obtain it. The UDI has revealed the most common reasons why applications were turned down in 2021.

Ålesund
These a0re the most common reasons why citizenship applications were rejected in 2021. Pictured is Ålesund, west Norway. Photo by Samuel Han on Unsplash

Last year, just under 50,000 people applied for Norwegian citizenship. To obtain citizenship in Norway, you will have need to have spent the required amount of time in Norway, which can vary depending on your situation, pass a language test and pass the citizenship test.

Unfortunately, 2,357 of those applications were unsuccessful and rejected by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), which provided data on the number of rejections to The Local.

The UDI also provided information for the most common reasons why citizenship applications are rejected, so if you’re thinking of going for a Norwegian passport anytime soon, you should be aware of the most common rejections and what requirements you will need to meet.

Not passing the citizenship test or social studies test

According to the UDI, this was the most common reason a foreign national had their citizenship request turned down.

When you apply for a Norwegian passport, you must pass a citizenship test (statsborgerprøve), or the social studies test if you are between 18 and 67 years of age.

For the citizenship test, you’ll need to answer at least 24 of 36 multiple choice questions correctly to pass. Topics included in the test are history, geography, democracy, welfare, education, health and working life in Norway.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Norway’s citizenship test

The social studies test is generally taken by people who have been through the social studies course for immigrants.

Both tests must be taken in Norwegian, either Bokmål or Nynorsk, to count towards your application. The municipalities arrange testing, but you can register through the booking system at Kompetanse Norge.

Failing the language test

Depending on when you apply for Norwegian citizenship, you will need to pass an oral Norwegian language test at either A2 or B1 level, depending on when you apply.

A2 refers to an elementary level of Norwegian, and B1 is considered semi-fluent.

The change to the language requirement from A2 to B1 will apply from Spring 2022 at the earliest, according to the UDI. So be sure to keep an eye out for when the rules change to make sure you don’t fall short of the requirements when you apply. 

Applications submitted before then will require the A2 level of Norwegian to pass.

Has not completed the mandatory Norwegian and social studies education 

To be eligible for citizenship, you will need to document that you have completed 300 hours of tuition in the Norwegian language with an approved provider or demonstrate that you have adequate knowledge of the Norwegian or Sami language.

Examples of proving you have adequate knowledge of the Norwegian language include passing the Bergenstest, or Norskprøve written and oral tests at levels 2 or 3.

Soon though, it will no longer be a requirement to have completed the compulsory Norwegian education. However, a rough date for implementing this change has not been set yet. 

Not meeting the requirement for residency time 

To become a Norwegian citizen, you will need to have resided in the country legally for a certain period of time. If you applied for citizenship before January 1st 2022, you will generally have to have lived in Norway for at least seven of the last ten years. The residency requirement is three of the last ten years for those with Norwegian spouses, registered partners, or cohabitants.

If you applied after January 1st 2022, then new rules apply. The residency period most people will need to have spent in Norway will instead be eight out of the last 11 years if you don’t have a sufficient income.

The sufficient income is around three times the minimum figure from the National Insurance Scheme. Currently, this is 319,997 kroner and can change annually.

If you have a sufficient income, the period is six years rather than eight.

Unable to have identity verified

Foreign nationals applying for citizenship in Norway must be able to prove their identity for obvious reasons. This usually comes in the form of providing a passport. The passport can be expired. There also cannot be any doubts from the UDI that the information in the passport is incorrect. 

Applicants from certain countries or who have previously been granted asylum are subject to different requirements

Criminal offences

You must also order a criminal record certificate from the police to submit with your application. That can be done via the Norwegian police’s website.

If you have received a fine for a criminal offence or been convicted by police, you will need to wait to apply for citizenship. This is called the “disqualification period”.

If you have been convicted abroad then this will also lead to a disqualification period too. If you are charged with a criminal offence during your application then it will be suspended. 

If a case has been dropped, or you have been issued a non-criminal fine, such as a parking ticket, then you do not need to wait.

Depending on your conviction, you will need to wait a certain period of time, depending on your punishment/ sentence to be eligible to apply for citizenship. If you try to apply within this time frame, your application will be rejected.

Not meeting the conditions for permanent residence or right of residence

If you are over the age of 18, you must have a valid residence permit for Norway at the time of application and fulfil the requirements for permanent residence to be eligible for citizenship. You must also be living in Norway and plan on staying in the country.

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

How do Norway’s citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Denmark?

With Norway set to tighten its language requirements for becoming a national, we take a look at the country's citizenship requirements compare to other Scandinavian countries.

How do Norway's citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Denmark?

Gaining citizenship of one Nordic country grants you rights in the others, such as making it easier to move there, work there, and even become a citizen. So, where is it easiest to become a citizen, and where will you be waiting the longest?

Norway

Length of stay: 6-8 years

EU and non EU citizens can apply for Norwegian citizenship after living in Norway for eight years out of the past eleven years and if they have held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year during that time.

A new rule, which came into effect in January 2022, means that if you have sufficient income, you can apply after six years rather than eight. Currently sufficient income is 319,997 kroner (~€30,520), but this can change annually.

Those with Norwegian spouses, registered partners, or cohabitants can apply after living in Norway for three of the last ten years. 

Nordic citizens over the age of 12 can apply for Norwegian citizenship after two years living in Norway and do not need to fulfil any further requirements below.

Language test

EU and non EU citizens have to pass an oral Norwegian language test at either A2 or B1 level. A2 refers to an elementary level of Norwegian, and B1 is considered semi-fluent. 

The change to the language requirement from A2 to B1 will apply from autumn 2022 at the earliest, according to the UDI

Citizenship test

Applicants must pass a citizenship test (statsborgerprøve), or a social studies test if aged between 18 and 67. The tests must be taken in Norwegian, either Bokmål or Nynorsk.

For the citizenship test, applicants need to answer at least 24 of 36 multiple choice questions correctly to pass. Topics included in the test are history, geography, democracy, welfare, education, health and working life in Norway.

Other requirements

After filling in an online application, applicants have to deliver a series of documents in person, including birth certificates, marriage certificates (if applicable), a full list of entries into and departures from Norway, at least seven years of tax returns, and a police report certifying “good conduct”.

Processing time and fees

It costs 6,500 kroner to apply if you are over 18. However, the fee is cheaper or completely waived if you are a Nordic citizen, previously held Norwegian citizenship, or are under 18 years of age. 

Applications take around 16 months to process but this can vary.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to apply for Norwegian citizenship

Sweden

Pictured is the Swedish flag.

Sweden’s flag. Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

Length of stay: 2-5 years

EU and non EU citizens can apply for Swedish citizenship after living in Sweden for five continuous years with right of residence. 

In some cases, this period can be even shorter.

Nordic citizens who have lived in Sweden for at least five years can become Swedish citizens through notification. This involves filling out a form and sending it to the local country administrative board, with a fee of 475 kronor.

The alternative is to submit an application for citizenship to the Migration Agency, which Nordic citizens can do after living in Sweden for two years. No other requirements below are needed for Nordic citizens.

EU and non-EU citizens who have lived with a Swedish citizen for at least two years can apply for citizenship earlier, after three continuous years in Sweden. However applicants will be asked to show that they have adapted well to Swedish life. This could be shown through learning the language, proving you can support yourself, or through the length of your marriage.

The requirement for continuous residency in Sweden means that if you spend more than six weeks abroad in any given year, it will extend the period of time until you can apply for citizenship.

For non-EU citizens, the process for getting citizenship is just the same as for EU citizens, except there is an additional requirement for a permanent residence permit. Permanent residency for non EU citizens is usually granted after four years of living in Sweden.

Other requirements: No outstanding debts or recent crimes

In addition to length of stay, EU and non EU citizens must have “conducted themselves well in Sweden”, and the Migration Agency will request information on whether you have debts or have committed crimes in the country.

An application can be rejected if a person has unpaid taxes, fines, or other charges. Debts to private companies passed on to the Swedish Enforcement Authority could also impact the application, even if they are paid, as two years must pass after payment to prove you’re debt-free. If you’ve committed a crime, there’s also a qualifying period before citizenship can be granted which depends on the sentence. 

An automated test (in Swedish) can be filled in here to see if you meet those requirements. 

Language and citizenship test: May soon be required

While Swedish language skills and knowledge of Swedish society are not currently a requirement for citizenship, this could change in the future. In January 2021, the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Migration put forward proposals to introduce an A2 language exam for would-be Swedes, with exceptions for vulnerable individuals who have made a reasonable effort to learn the language. There are also proposals for a knowledge test about Swedish society.

These proposals will be subject to a long political process before they can be put into law, so at present the requirements are proof of identity, duration of residency in Sweden, and no record of serious criminal offences or debts.

Processing time and fees

The Migration Agency says applicants should expect an average of 39 months between submitting their application and becoming Swedish. Readers of The Local have reported the process taking anywhere between a couple of weeks to over three years. The application costs 1,500 SEK (~€150).

READ MORE: How to get Swedish citizenship or stay permanently in Sweden

Denmark

Pictured is a Danish flag.

The Danish flag. Photo by Palle Knudsen on Unsplash

Length of stay: 9 years

Normally, you must have lived in Denmark for nine consecutive years (without living elsewhere for more than three months) in order to qualify for Danish citizenship.

This period is reduced in some cases: for refugees it becomes eight years, citizens of Nordic countries need a two-year stay and people married to Danes qualify after 6-8 years, depending on the length of the marriage.

Other exceptions are made for those who have taken a significant portion of their education in Denmark, who may qualify after five years. If you moved to Denmark before your 15th birthday, you can become nationalised after you turn 18.

EU and non EU citizens must have a permit for permanent residency in Denmark for a minimum of two years before applying for citizenship.

Language test

Applicants must have passed the national Prøve i Dansk 3 language test, the final exam in the national Danish language school system. This involves a reading, writing, speaking and listening test which equates to B2 Danish.

There are certain exemptions from the language requirements. Residents of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as well as Swedish and Norwegian speakers, do not need to document Danish proficiency. Dispensation can be given for applicants with certain types of illnesses and disabilities, and different rules apply to children.

Citizenship test

A condition of getting Danish citizenship is to demonstrate knowledge of Danish society, culture and history, by having passed a citizenship test (indfødsretsprøve).

In April 2021, the existing citizenship test, consisting of 40 multiple choice questions, was supplemented with five extra questions about “Danish values” such as equality, freedom of speech and the relation between legislation and religion. 

The pass mark is 36/45 and at least four of the five Danish values questions must be answered correctly. 

Children under 12, Swedish and Norwegian citizens, and people from the Danish minority in German region Schleswig-Holstein do not need to take the citizenship test.

Other requirements

  • Sign a declaration pledging allegiance and loyalty to Denmark and Danish society and promising to abide by its laws.
  • Be free of debt to the public sector and be financially self-sufficient.
  • Have no criminal convictions.
  • Hold a full-time job or been self-employed for three and a half of the last four years. 
  • Attend a ceremony, declare you will uphold Denmark’s laws, values and principles and shake hands with an official.

You also need to submit paperwork to prove your identity, current nationality, residency and economic activity in Denmark.

Processing time and fees

At the end of 2021, the processing time for applications was approximately 14 months, according to the immigration ministry. The fee is 4,000 Danish kroner (~€537).

After this time, you receive a letter notifying you that you can expect to be accepted for citizenship at the next round of parliamentary procedure (which happens twice yearly), provided you still fulfil the requirements at that time.

Once the new law making you a citizen comes into force, you will be sent a declaration that you have been accepted for citizenship with one final condition: you attend a ceremony, declare that you will uphold Denmark’s laws, values and principles, shake hands with an official and become a citizen.

Roundup

Even if Sweden decides to include a language and citizenship test in their application process, the country will still remain the easiest and cheapest in Scandinavia in which to become a citizen, although there’s a downside – it also has the longest processing time for citizenship applications.

Here’s the roundup.

Swedish citizenship

Application Fee: ~€150 (1,500 Swedish kronor) 

Length of time living in country: 3-5 years 

Language level needed: None, but this may change

Citizenship test: None, but this may change

Other requirements: No record of serious criminal offences or debts

Dual nationality allowed: Yes

Processing time: Around 39 months

Norwegian Citizenship 

Application Fee: ~€250 (2,500 Norwegian kroner)

Length of time living in country: 6-8 of the past 11 years

Language level needed: A2 Norwegian, soon to change to the more difficult B1 Norwegian

Citizenship test: Yes

Other requirements: A full list of entries into and departures from Norway, at least seven years of tax returns, and a police report certifying “good conduct”.

Dual nationality allowed: Yes thanks to a law change in 2020 

Processing time: Around 16 months

Danish citizenship

Application Fee: ~€537 (4,000 Danish kroner)

Length of time living in country: 9 years

Language level needed: B2 Danish

Citizenship test: Yes

Other requirements: No record of serious criminal offences or debts and be financially self-sufficient; sign a declaration pledging allegiance and loyalty to Denmark and its laws; hold a full-time job or been self-employed for three and a half of the last four years; attend a ceremony.

Dual nationality allowed: Yes 

Processing time: 14 months – 2 years

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