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How do the language rules for Norwegian citizenship and permanent residence differ? 

With Norwegian citizenship and permanent residence, you can stay in Norway indefinitely, but both come with language requirements? So, what are the rules, and how do they differ between applications? 

These are how the language rules for permanent residency and citizenship differ.
These are how the language rules for permanent residency and citizenship in Norway differ. Pictured is a person atop a mountain. Photo by Ole Jørgen on Unsplash

Dual citizenship has become an attractive proposition for many since Norway adopted it in 2020. A Norwegian passport comes with many perks, perhaps the main one being that you can stay in the country permanently. 

However, depending on your situation, it can take a while before you are eligible to become a Norwegian citizen. Another way of being able to live and work in Norway for as long as you wish (this mainly applies to non-EEA nationals as the freedom of movement doesn’t apply to them) is by obtaining permanent residency. 

Many will be eligible for permanent residence after three years of living legally in Norway, making it easier to obtain. 

Both Norwegian citizenship and permanent residency come with language requirements. The Norwegian language skill requirements differ between citizenship and permanent residence, however. 

READ ALSO: Which countries in Europe impose language tests for residency permits?

Permanent residence

The language rules for permanent residence can differ quite a bit depending on the type of permit you have held or the nationality and permit of the person you moved to Norway to be with. 

This can make it difficult to lay down the requirements that apply to everyone. To find out what specific language requirements for permanent residence apply to you, follow this link and fill out the information that applies to you. 

Generally, you will need to have completed tuition and tests in the Norwegian language to qualify. 

Those with skilled worker permits, aged between 16-54 who were granted their first residence permit after January 2016, will need to have either completed Norwegian language tuition of 250 hours or more, received an assessment grade at lower or upper secondary school level, or passed Norwegian level A2 at oral, listening, reading and written presentation. You will also need to pass the final “social studies test” in Norwegian or complete 50 hours of tuition in social studies

Those with a family immigration permit who moved to be with somebody who holds Norwegian citizenship will need to have completed more than 550 hours in Norwegian language classes, been awarded an assessment grade from a secondary school, or passed at A2 level in Norwegian across four areas, and meet the social studies requirements. The same applies to those who moved to be with someone who holds permanent residence or a family immigration permit. For reference, A2 is considered a basic level by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). 

If you hold a family immigration permit, and the person you moved to be with has a work permit, or self-employed person permit, then you will need 250 hours of Norwegian lessons or pass at A2 level. This is in addition to completing the social studies course or passing the exam.  

Those between 55-66 will either be fully exempt from language requirements or have to pass Norwegian A2. Those over 67 are entirely exempt. 

You can check the rules that apply to those granted residence between 2015 and 2005 here.

EU/EEA nationals registered as living in Norway are not subject to any language requirements. Likewise, non-EEA nationals with residence cards to live with EEA nationals registered in Norway also face no requirements. 


The rules for EU/EEA citizens and non-EEA residents are the same when it comes to citizenship, which means while those with the freedom of movement won’t need to meet any language benchmarks for permanent residence, they will need to be able to document Norwegian language skills for citizenship. 

To be eligible for citizenship, on the language side of things at least, you will need to have completed the approved tuition in the Norwegian language, passed Norwegian at a minimum of A2 level and passed either the social studies test or citizenship test in Norwegian. The citizenship and social studies tests must both be completed in Norwegian. 

From autumn 2022 at the earliest, the level of Norwegian required will be raised from A2 to B1 level. 

If you haven’t done the required tuition, with the number of hours required depending on your situation, then you can make yourself exempt by proving you have “adequate knowledge” of Norwegian or a Sami language.  

You can prove you have adequate knowledge of Norwegian and Sami by completing all four parts of Norskprøven for voksne innvandrere by Kompetanse Norge at levels A2, B1 or B2. This includes the reading test, listening test, test in written presentation and oral examination. 

You also qualify if you passed both of Kompetanse Norge’s two subtests of the Norwegian test C1: lytteprøve og skriftlig fremstilling and leseprøve og muntlig kommunikasjon.

Passing the oral and written Norskprøve 2 or 3, Språkprøven i norsk for voksne innvandrere, or Språkprøven i norsk for fremmedspråklige voksne, with at least 220 points (these tests are no longer completed), also counts. 

Completing studies in Norwegian or Sami at university or college level in Norway or abroad corresponding to 30 credits, or meeting the admission requirement for studies in Norwegian or Sami at a university or college in Norway.  

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For members


What are the key benefits of Norway’s family immigration permit? 

When moving to Norway, you may need a residence permit to live and work there legally. Norway’s family immigration permit has several advantages that may make it a more attractive proposition than other types of residence. 

What are the key benefits of Norway’s family immigration permit? 

The majority of those from outside the European Economic Area will need a residence permit to live in Norway legally. However, if you are an EEA national, it’s relatively straightforward due to being able to live and work in Norway freely. The only paperwork that will be required is registering with the police

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for more than one permit. For example, when moving to be with a partner or family member, you may qualify for both a work permit and a family immigration residence card. 

In many cases, the family immigration permit may be best as it comes with several benefits that other types of residence may not. 

What is the family immigration permit? 

Spouses, cohabitants, fiancées, children, parents and other family members of residents in Norway may be eligible to apply for family immigration or family reunification permits from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). 

In other articles, we’ve covered the rules for family and partners in more depth. You can check those out below. 


Career freedom

When moving to Norway, many may find themselves in a position where they qualify for both a work permit and a family immigration permit, but they aren’t sure which one is best. 

When granted a family immigration permit, you have the right to live and work in Norway. And unlike a work permit, you may have more career freedom. This is because you will not need a job relevant to your qualifications. 

Additionally, those with temporary work permits need to reapply when moving into a job that’s a different position to the one you were granted a permit for, even if it’s with the same employer. Those with a family immigration permit aren’t required to reapply when switching jobs. 

This makes changing your job or career in Norway a lot more hassle-free than with a work permit.

Free language lessons

You may be entitled to free Norwegian language lessons when granted a family immigration permit in Norway. 

Those who are the family members of those with permanent residence, or the 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) can get up to 600 hours of language and social studies tuition based on their residence. 

Quicker road to citizenship 

Yes. As briefly outlined above, several factors can affect how long you must spend in Norway before becoming a citizen. 

For those that are a registered partner, cohabitant, or spouse of a Norwegian citizen, then the residence length is five out of the last ten years. 

One caveat is that your combined residence and marriage period will need to have been at least seven years. This means you will have to have already been married for at least a couple of years to be eligible for Norwegian citizenship after five years of residence. 

Those who aren’t married can include the time they have lived with their partner to the combined marriage and residence requirement. Furthermore, time spent living together or abroad can count towards the residence requirement.

READ ALSO: How long does it take to get Norwegian citizenship?