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Reader question: When do my children qualify for Norwegian citizenship? 

Norwegian citizenship comes with many benefits, especially since dual citizenship is allowed. This is what parents who moved to Norway with their children need to know about when their kids qualify for a passport. 

A child in Norway
Here's when children who moved to Norway will become eligible for citizenship. Pictured is a child in Norway. Photo by Jørgen K. Akselsen on Unsplash

QUESTION: We moved to Norway with our children. When would they be eligible to become citizens? 

Do you have a burning question about Norway you want answering, or maybe there’s something you are simply just curious about? You can get in touch here, and The Local will do its best to answer your question for you! 

Norway opened the door to dual citizenship two years ago, meaning foreign nationals could become Norwegian without giving up their existing citizenship. 

Norwegian citizenship comes with several benefits, whether it’s the right to live in Norway permanently, having the right to vote, being automatically enrolled into the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, or simply having a Norwegian passport, one of the most powerful travel documents available. Having Norwegian citizenship also means living and moving freely across the Schengen zone for previously non-EEA nationals. 

 READ MORE: 

With so many benefits on offer, many parents will be wondering whether and when their children could take up citizenship. This will depend on several factors, such as age and the parents’ existing nationalities. 

If both parents are foreign nationals 

If both parents are foreign nationals and non-Nordic citizens, then the child must be older than 12 but under 18 for the rules for children to apply for them. 

You must be living in Norway and hold a valid residence permit, for starters. The permit must be valid for the duration of the application. You must also be living in Norway and plan on staying in the future. You will also need to have lived in Norway for five of the last seven years and held residence permits valid for longer than a year each during this time. 

You must also hold or meet the requirements for permanent residency when the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) decides on your application. This means you must not have been outside of Norway for a total of ten months in the last five years. 

Children over 16 will need to have completed mandatory training in the Norwegian language and passed the concluding tests, or if they have received a final assessment grade in Norwegian at secondary school or upper secondary school, they can apply to the municipality for an exemption. 

Those over 15 will also need to order a criminal record certificate to be handed in with their application. All applicants will need to have their identity checked too. 

There is no application fee for under-18s. 

Shorter waiting times for Nordic citizens

Children who are Nordic citizens over the age of 12 can apply for citizenship after living in Norway for the last two years. They will need to have not spent more than two months per calendar year outside the country. They must also understand the Norwegian or Sami language. Nordic nationals can do this by having someone document that they understand Norwegian. The UDI uses an employer as an example, so it may be worth finding out whether documentation from a teacher would count.   

Over 15s will need the criminal record certificate too. 

If one parent is Norwegian 

Some children may automatically qualify for citizenship at birth. Children with one parent who is a Norwegian citizen and born after September 1st 2006, automatically become Norwegian citizens at birth. This applies regardless of whether you were born abroad or not. 

The rules are tighter for offspring born before September 1st 2006, though. Those born before this date are Norwegian citizens from birth if their mother was Norwegian, or their father was Norwegian and married to the mother before the birth, or if the father died before birth, was Norwegian and was married to the mother at the time of his death. 

READ MORE: Do children born in Norway qualify for citizenship?

However, those born to a Norwegian father and who aren’t automatically citizens can become citizens relatively easily by handing in a notification of Norwegian citizenship. You can do this in Norway or from abroad. 

If I take up citizenship, will it make it easier for my children to become citizens? 

Children between the age of two and 18 can apply for citizenship in cases where they were not automatically eligible at birth, for example, if one of their parents takes up citizenship after the child was born. 

You will need to be a resident in Norway and intend on staying. You must have lived in Norway continuously for two years, which means no stays out of the country for longer than two months per calendar year. The child will also need to have held valid residence permits during this period, and they each will need to have valid for longer than a year. 

Kids over 15 will need the criminal reference certificate too. 

Children can also apply for citizenship alongside their parents under these rules, provided their parent meets the requirements

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EUROPEAN UNION

‘Shady characters’: Will EU countries now put an end to ‘golden passport’ schemes?

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine European countries are coming under pressure to end backdoor routes to EU citizenship which are deemed to be unfair and "shady". This week MEPs in the European parliament made their opinions on the scheme clear.

'Shady characters': Will EU countries now put an end to 'golden passport' schemes?

The European Parliament on Wednesday called for the phasing out of citizenship by investment programmes operated by some EU countries and for EU-wide regulation on so-called ‘golden visas’ offered to wealthy individuals. 

Such schemes pose a threat to European security and democracy as they can be used “as a backdoor” to the EU for “dirty money”, MEPs argued during the debate.

Members of the European Parliament have been calling for the termination of ‘golden passport’ schemes since 2014, but the issue has become more prominent in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, because of the number of Russian citizens acquiring rights in EU countries through this route in recent years. 

The resolution passed by the parliament with 595 votes to 12 and 74 abstentions says golden passports should be phased out fully. 

The background…

The market of golden passports and visas developed rapidly since the 2008 financial crisis, as countries have sought to incentivise foreign investment

Three EU countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta – offer citizenship in exchange for a financial investment. Currently, however, Bulgaria is considering a government proposal to end the scheme, Cyprus is only processing applications submitted before November 2020, and Malta has just suspended the processing of applications from Russian citizens.

In addition, 12 EU countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal) grant residence permits on the basis of investments, the so-called ‘golden visas’. 

Each national scheme has different rules regarding minimum investment requirements, which range between €60,000 in Latvia and €1.25 million in the Netherlands. These can be through property ownership or contributions to public projects. 

A European parliament study estimates that, from 2011 to 2019, the total investment associated to these schemes has been of €21.4 billion. 42,180 citizenship or residence applications have been approved under such programmes and more than 132,000 people have benefited, including family members of applicants. 

Dutch MEP Sophie IN’t Veld, the European parliament rapporteur, said that “when governments are selling passports or visas, what is actually bringing in the cash is… the little blue and yellow logo on them” – in other words, the EU flag.

‘They are designed for shady business, shady money and shady characters’

Getting citizenship of one EU country of course means the freedom to live and work in all 27 member states, so one country’s passport policy affects everyone in the Bloc. 

Benefits include the right to move to other EU countries, exercise economic activities in the single market, vote and stand as candidates in local and European elections, receive consular protection outside the EU and travel visa-free in many other states around the world. 

Residence also ensures economic rights and the possibility to be joined by family members. 

All this bypassing standard citizenship requirements, which typically involve a period of residence and a “genuine connection” to the country, such as family links, or integration conditions, such as speaking the language and knowing the culture. 

“Passports and golden visa schemes are not about attracting any meaningful legitimate investment in the real economy of Europe. They are designed for shady business, shady money and shady characters,” Sophie IN’t Veld said during the debate.

A picture taken on March 8, 2022 shows European Union’s and Ukrainian flags fluttering outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by Frederick FLORIN / AFP)

Security risks

In an earlier analysis, the European Commission found that such programmes pose risks regarding security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption due to weak vetting procedures. 

For instance, EU countries offering citizenship by investment usually request clean criminal records from applicants or their country of origin, which are difficult to verify especially in case of a conflict. But Malta can waive the requirement “where the competent authority considers such a certificate impossible to obtain”. 

Cyprus, which is not part of the border-free Schengen area, is not connected to the Schengen Information System that allows member countries to share security information.

In addition, EU member states consult on applications for short-stay visas issued to citizens from certain third countries, but they do not consult for citizenship by investment programmes and do not inform each other of rejected applications, the Commission noted.

Media investigations also highlighted how the schemes have been linked to corruption and crime. Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in Malta in 2017 following her investigations into corrupt politicians and money laundering through the citizenship by investment programme, MEPs reminded. 

Brexit-backing billionaire Christopher Chandler, born in New Zealand, was reported to have acquired EU citizenship using the Maltese scheme in 2016.

In 2021 Cyprus revoked the citizenship of 39 foreign investors and 6 members of their families, after it emerged that insufficient background checks had been carried out for over half of the 6,779 passports issued under the scheme between 2007 and 2020. 

‘It is not fair to Ukrainians at this point’

The parliament said on Wednesday that these schemes are “discriminatory and lack fairness” as they contrast “dramatically with the obstacles to seeking international protection, legally migrating or seeking naturalisation through conventional channels”. 

MEPs also called on the European Commission to propose, in 2022, EU-wide regulation on residence by investment schemes. These should include stricter background checks on applicants, their family members and the sources of their funds, minimum residence requirements, investments that truly benefit the economy of the country, and proper scrutiny of intermediaries helping people acquiring rights trough these channels.

“It should not be enough to just buy a house or a villa. The investment must be in the real economy and in line with the climate and social objectives of the Union,” said Sophie IN’t Veld. 

It is “very difficult for small countries whose revenue streams depend on this… I understand it is painful but it is not fair to European citizens, and Ukrainians at this point,” the rapporteur said.

Despite the vote in the European parliament EU powers on this issue remain limited because the rules on the acquisition of citizenship are defined at national level rather than in Brussels. 

The European Commission, however, has already launched a legal action at the European Court of Justice against Cyprus and Malta because “the granting of EU citizenship for pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the member states concerned undermines the essence of EU citizenship”.

What about Russian nationals obtaining golden status?

Russian nationals account for 45 percent of those who have acquired citizenship in EU countries using this route, followed by Chinese nationals and people from the Middle East (15 percent for each group). Chinese investors account for over half of residence permits issued in this way.  

In consideration of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Parliament also appealed EU countries to stop operating citizenship and residency by investment schemes for Russian nationals with immediate effect and to re-assess whether those who benefited in the past have links to the Putin regime. 

In the first round of sanctions against Russia, the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States committed to “limit the sale of citizenship… that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens… of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”

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

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