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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

Pictured is Ålesund.
Here's what The Local's readers had to say about Norway's new language requirements for citizenship. Pictured is Ålesund. Photo by Mike Benna on Unsplash

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote. 

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

Norway will soon up its language requirement for Norwegian citizenship from A2 to B1. But how long does it actually take to reach the B1? Here’s what the experts say.

How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Rules for applying for citizenship differ based on individual circumstances – including nationality, length of stay in Norway, marital status, and others – and a similar principle will be put in place for the new language requirement: citizenship applicants who aren’t able to reach the B1 level due to personal circumstances or health reasons will be exempt from the requirements.

With the new update entering into force soon, a lot of people eying Norwegian citizenship have started to contact language courses and schools to inquire about the specifics of the B1 level.

READ MORE: Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship

So, what is B1 level, and how good do your language skills need to be to reach that level? 

B1 level language competencies

According to the official CEFR guidelines, a speaker at the B1 level should be able to interact with Norwegian speakers on familiar topics. 

In the workplace, B1 level speakers should be able to read simple reports on familiar topics and write simple e-mails on subjects in their field. 

However, a B1 level would not be sufficient to function fully in the workplace in Norwegian.

Officially, the following competencies apply to B1 level language speakers: 

  • Listening (B1): Speakers can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, and other areas of life. They can understand the main point of many radio or TV programs on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.
  • Reading (B1): Speakers can understand texts that consist mainly of high-frequency everyday or job-related language. They can understand the description of events, feelings, and wishes in personal letters.
  • Spoken interaction (B1): Speakers can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. They can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest, or pertinent to everyday life. 
  • Spoken production (B1): Speakers can connect phrases in a simple way to describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions. They can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. They can also narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.
  • Writing (B1): Speakers can write simple connected text on topics they find familiar or of personal interest. They can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.

How long does it take to reach the B1 level?

There is no one-fits-all answer to the question of how long it actually takes to reach the B1 level – it depends on individual circumstances and factors.

“When it comes to courses, on average, you can reach the B1 level in about 18 weeks, that is, four or four and a half months. But of course, it depends on a lot of factors – if the person in question took language courses before, their length of stay in Norway, whether they use Norwegian actively, or whether they only use it during courses. All of these factors affect the necessary time to master the B1 level,” Nicoleta Stratan, the general manager at the Speak Norsk language school, told The Local in a phone call.

“Someone who has a job where they speak Norwegian or who is in an environment where people use Norwegian is, of course, ahead of the game, so to say. They will likely be able to speak more fluently. But, on average, expect to spend six weeks mastering each level – A1, A2, and B1,” Stratan added. 

Stig Roar Olsen, a business adviser at Folkeunivestitetet, a course provider of separate language courses, also shared the average times of mastering the different proficiency levels.

“For A1, around 48 hours. For A2, twice as much, so 96. After you complete the A level (A1 + A2), you’re then ready to take on the B level (B1 + B2).

“Our recommendation is to practice three times the amount of the separate course time. For example, if a course entails 48 hours, we would recommend 150 hours of practice on top of the course, in different settings and situations, with different people,” Olsen told The Local.

How much does it cost to get to B1 level?

The prices of courses leading up to and including the B1 level depend on the course provider and language school. Different providers offer different prices based on the dynamics (fast-track or regular), duration (per month, set periods, etc.), and format of the course (classroom or online).

  • At Speak Norsk, levels are divided into two parts (e.g., A1.1 and A1.2), and each part is priced at NOK 3,500, according to Stratan.  
  • At Lingu, for example, 3-month long fast-track classroom courses for the official Norwegian language test, Norskprøven, are billed at NOK 9,980 per level. That means that three levels (A1, A2, and B1) would cost students NOK 29,940. On the other hand, fast-track online courses at the A1, A2, and B1 levels are billed from NOK 2,490 per month. More information about Lingu’s course offer can be found here. 
  • At Folkeuniversitet, some courses are billed at NOK 6,230 per level.
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