EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to free language lessons in Norway?
Depending on your immigration status, you may be entitled to up to 600 hours of free Norwegian language and social studies tuition, paid for by the state. Here's what the rules say.
Despite the high level of English language proficiency in Norway, you will eventually need to overcome the language barrier in Norway to make the most of life in the country.
Shelling out for a course, whether it's intensive or not, can be very costly indeed, however. But did you know that you might be entitled to free Norwegian lessons provided by the government, depending on your residence status?
Up to 600 hours of Norwegian language training and social studies lessons will be provided to foreign nationals completely free of charge to foreign residents aged between 16 and 67 if they possess the right residence permit to qualify for the training.
The benefits of this are massive. Not only could the free lessons save you tens of thousands of kroner, but they also help you fulfil the requirements for becoming a permanent resident or citizen further down the line.
So, who qualifies?
The Norwegian Directorate for Integration and Diversity (IMDi) has provided The Local with the following list of foreign nationals who qualify for the free tuition.
- Asylum seekers.
- Resettlement refugees.
- Those with residence permits granted on the grounds of strong humanitarian considerations if the permit forms the basis for a permanent residence permit.
- Unaccompanied minor's pending documentation of identity.
- Those granted a residence permit on independent grounds.
- Family members of those who qualify above.
- A family member of somebody with a permanent residence permit.
- A family member of a Norwegian or a citizen of another Nordic country (except those that have a residence permit as a family member on the grounds of the EEA freedom of movement regulations).
- Temporary residence permit holders on the grounds of the rules regarding collective protection and their family members, if the former's permit forms the basis for a permanent residence permit. This applies to Ukrainians in Norway as the government has granted this group temporary collective protection.
Who misses out?
Several notable groups miss out on free language lessons, unfortunately. Among these are those granted residence permits to work in Norway, meaning if you have been given a work permit, then you will have to fund the lessons from your own pockets.
EEA nationals are also ineligible for the free language and social studies tuition, as are Brits who have been given residence cards in relation to the EFTA separation agreement.
Additionally, those granted residence permits based on a family member being an EEA national living in Norway under the freedom of movement rules also miss out on the free lessons.
What else do I need to know about the free lessons?
If you qualify for the free lessons, you are obliged to take them to be eligible for permanent residence and citizenship further down the line.
This is unless you can demonstrate, you have an adequate understanding of the Norwegian and Sami languages in another way. 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.
If you are eligible for the free Norwegian language lessons, you will need to contact your local municipality to find out more about accessing them.
You will need to not leave things too long either as the lessons can only be accessed for free within the first three years of being eligible for them.