Is Norway's independent contractor visa a good fit for digital nomads?
Digital nomads have been showing an increased interest in Norway in recent years. But what are the visa options best suited to working remotely from Norway, and is the independent contractor visa an option?
The digital nomad lifestyle offers modern professionals the opportunity to visit different countries while maintaining a steady line of income.
With its pristine nature, fascinating fjords, and rugged wilderness, Norway has started attracting more and more interest among the digital nomad community in recent years.
But what are the best visa options for digital nomads in a country that is known for making remote work difficult?
Most international professionals often point to two visas: the Svalbard digital nomad visa and the independent contractor visa.
The digital nomad visa – limited to Svalbard
You should know that Norway does have a digital nomad visa in place. Unfortunately, the program is limited to the Svalbard archipelago – situated in the Arctic Ocean, between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
The current digital nomad scheme allows foreign citizens who meet set criteria to establish themselves on Svalbard Island and carry out their business from there.
However, as legal experts at LawyersNorway.eu point out, if you successfully establish yourself there, you will be able to move to other parts of Norway later on.
If moving to Svalbard is not a deal-breaker for you, keep in mind that you'll also need to fulfil the following requirements:
- You'll need to have a valid passport;
- You'll need to submit the digital nomad visa application form.
- Authorities will ask you to provide documentation that proves that you're self-employed or working for a non-Norwegian company, as well as documentation related to your education and vocational qualifications;
- You will also be required to prove that you can sustain yourself in Norway and have a minimum gross income of around 360,000 kroner annually (expect the authorities to request bank statements);
- You'll need to have valid health insurance;
- You'll also need to provide Norwegian authorities with a contract with at least one Norwegian client, which must explicate that your minimum salary as a skilled employee is at least 189,39 kroner per hour;
- You'll need to show proof of having accommodation in Svalbard.
Note that there is also a processing fee for the digital nomad visa, which is set at around 6,000 kroner.
If, on the other hand, you're not that keen to move to Svalbard, the independent contractor visa might be a better fit.
The independent contractor visa
Norway's independent contractor visa is intended for non-European Union citizens, and it's somewhat similar to the Svalbard visa for digital nomads.
Some people tend to recommend it to self-employed professionals who plan to stay in Norway for at least a couple of years.
To be exact, the independent contractor visa is a residence permit issued to eligible remote workers, giving them the right to work remotely in Norway for two years.
You can be granted this permit for two years at a time, and you can have this permit for up to six years. The idea behind this visa was to attract international professionals to move to Norway.
Digital nomads looking to take advantage of this opportunity need to meet multiple requirements. The trickiest one is that they need to have at least one corporate client based in Norway to apply (as is the case with the Svalbard digital nomad visa - notice the pattern?).
In order to qualify for the Norwegian independent contractor visa, you'll need to meet the following requirements:
- Required education/qualification level: The full list of requirements relating to education or special qualifications can be found on the website of the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI) here.
- At least one Norwegian client: You will need at least one Norwegian corporate client to be eligible for this type of visa. Expect the authorities to require a contract with the client as proof.
- A valid passport and an address in Norway: First off, you need to have a valid passport. You also need to have your accommodation in Norway taken care of, as you'll be asked to provide an address. You'll likely need to provide a tenancy contract as proof.
- Proof of self-employment and proof of income: You will be asked to provide proof of business establishment and activity outside of Norway, and the authorities will also verify whether your income allows you to move to and live in Norway.
Note that the minimum annual income you'll need is around 360,000 kroner, and you'll be required to provide bank slips or statements to prove you earn that income each year.
In conclusion, is the independent contractor visa a good fit for digital nomads? If you plan to stay in Norway for at least two years, then the answer is likely yes.
Digital nomads, pay attention! If you plan to carry out work assignments different than those described in the contract you presented to the authorities, or if you plan to work for another company, you will need to apply for a new residence permit.
To get more information on the rights and obligations related to the independent contractor visa, consult the UDI's website here.