Residency permits For Members

EXPLAINED: How Americans can move to Norway 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How Americans can move to Norway 
These are the options available to Americans wishing to move to Norway. Pictured is a person on a hike near Bergen. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Whether you've always dreamed of a life in the mountains or are attracted to the high salaries and work-life balance, many dream of a life in Norway. Here's what you need to know about moving to Norway as an American.


There are plenty of factors that make Norway an attractive proposition for those looking to move countries. Whether it's the nature, the wages, the work-life balance, the active lifestyle, or something completely different, plenty of positives bring people from all corners of the globe to the country.  

Americans undoubtedly feel this attraction as last year, citizens from the USA made up the fourth largest group to be granted work permits, while also being the fifth biggest set of nationals to be given family residence cards. 

So, what are the rules for moving to Norway? 

The basics 

First up, as Americans are classed as citizens from outside the EU/EEA and do not have the freedom of movement, they will generally need to apply for and be granted a residence permit to come to Norway. 

However, Americans with dual nationality from an EU or EEA country can move to Norway without applying for a permit. However, they will have to register with the police as having moved to Norway and log their reason for moving, such as work or family. If you qualify as an EU national, then you can check the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration's (UDI) rules here.


Additionally, partners, spouses, and fiancés can move to Norway if their significant other is an EU/EEA national. You can read more about the specifics here

However, if you don't meet these requirements, you will need to apply for a residence permit. The UDI treats Americans like the citizens of any other country outside of the EU/EEA, meaning there aren't any specific rules for Americans. 

And one final point worth mentioning is Norway does not allow those with "Norwegian heritage" or a distant Norwegian relative to move to the country. 

What are the options for getting a residence permit? 

There are a few different ways to obtain a work permit to move to Norway. The most common options are either to move for work by getting a skilled worker permit, or to move to be with a Norwegian partner, spouse or family member. The rules for moving to be with family are pretty rigid, so you won't be able to move to be with an aunt or uncle, for example. 

Becoming an au pair or moving to Norway to study are also options. You can find an overview of the different application types available to citizens from the USA here.

As obtaining a work permit or moving to be with family or a partner are the two most common routes, we'll cover those in more detail. 

Getting a work permit

To qualify for the skilled worker permit, you'll need to have completed higher education or obtained vocational training that took at least three years at upper secondary school level or higher—for example, electricians or carpenters. In addition, you will need to have received a full-time job offer that meets Norwegian pay and working condition requirements. 

The job you are offered must also require your qualifications as a skilled worker. These work permits run for between one and three years. Those with degrees are normally given three-year-long permits, while those with vocational education are typically given year-long permits. You may also need to reapply if you move into a job that's a different position to the one you applied for, even if it's with the same employer.

In Norway, there are many professions which are regulated. This means special qualifications and training are required to work in these fields. In some cases, you will need to have your qualifications gained outside of Norway approved to be eligible to work in them.


A seasonal worker permit option is also available, but this is a more short-term option and isn't viable if you want to stay in Norway for longer than six months. 

To find out what rules specifically apply to you when applying for a work permit, click here.


Family immigration visa

Family immigration permits can be particularly complicated to understand as they can cover everything from partners moving to be with each other to relocating to be with children. Family immigration permits refer to two people in the application process. These are the applicant (the person who wants to move to Norway) and the reference person (the person the applicant is moving to Norway to be with). 


While the details below provide a basic overview, it is worth checking with the UDI what options are available to you and the rules here

For those with a husband or wife in Norway, there will be an application fee of 10,500 kroner to cover. Both of you will also need to be over 24 too. In addition, you're marriage or partnership must have been legally entered into

You will also need to plan on living together in Norway, and the marriage must not have been a visa wedding or forced. 

The applicant must also verify their identity, and you must not be prohibited from entering the Schengen area. 

The reference person (i.e. the partner) must also have an income of at least 287,278 kroner per year before tax. This figure changes every May though. But the salary requirement will not be raised or lowered if it changes after you apply. 

The applicant's significant other will also not have received financial assistance from NAV (økonomisk sosialhjelp) in the previous 12 months. 


The rules for those with partners is broadly the same. But you must also meet one of two requirements to be eligible. First, you will need either have lived together for two years. Or you must be expecting or have a child together. 

A parent who has sole parental responsibility for a child who is a Norwegian citizen can apply for a permit for family immigration to live with their child in Norway

If you are married or live with the child's other parent, you cannot apply for this type of permit. Instead, you must apply under the rules for spouses and cohabitants. 

If your child or grandchild is an EEA citizen registered in Norway, you can move to be with them if you can document your identity, aren't prohibited from entering the Schengen, and you will need to be supported financially by the reference person. 

Moving to be with adult children or parents when you are over 18 is incredibly tricky, and a specific set of requirements needs to be met. 

In many cases, those applying under the "other family" bracket will only have their applications approved when strong humanitarian reasons are considered. However, the UDI doesn't list any particular requirements or guidelines. 

Those with family immigration permits are allowed to work and may be entitled to healthcare through the National Insurance Scheme.

Additionally, some people granted residence for family immigration can receive free Norwegian language lessons.



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