Immigration For Members

'Destroying people's lives': How long waits for Norwegian residence is taking a toll

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 23 Jan, 2023 Updated Mon 23 Jan 2023 12:36 CEST
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Many have shared their experiences of long waiting times for Norwegian residence. Pictured is a Norwegian flag. Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

In a survey among readers, long waiting times for Norwegian residence or to renew a permit were highlighted as major issues for international residents in Norway. Many have shared accounts of how they have been affected.

Some 54 percent of readers recently told The Local that they had negative experiences dealing with the country's immigration authorities

This is in contrast to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration's (UDI) own figures which indicate that over 80 percent of users had confidence in casework done by the UDI. 

The most significant issue among those surveyed by The Local was long waiting times to have their case or application processed or to have a permit renewed by the authorities. The waiting times are due to a pandemic backlog that affected waiting times in 2022 and changes in how cases are processed. 

"A structural change in how we handle new applications was made at the turn of the year going into 2022. The purpose was to reduce waiting times. While the majority of applications being made after January 1st 2022, as a result, could be handled faster, some applications received before January 1st 2022, got a longer waiting time," Per-Jan Brekke, a senior press adviser for the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), told The Local.

While it expects to have processed all remaining cases from before 2022, excluding citizenship applications, by the middle of the year, it did add that some cases naturally take longer than others as they may require the UDI to investigate further. 

Long waiting times have been ongoing issues for applicants, with The Local reporting on the issue several times throughout 2022 and at the beginning of 2023. Unfortunately, these waiting times have had an adverse effect on current or soon-to-be international residents in Norway. 

Several readers have shared how issues with Norway's immigration have affected them and their quality of life. 

 "I am the Norwegian reference person (in an application). My husband is Egyptian. (We have) waited 19 months so far, and the UDI cannot tell us when we will receive a reply. Both interviews were done, and more than enough documents were uploaded. They (immigration authorities) are destroying people's lives and mental health," Mariann, whose husband is applying for a residence permit as a non-EEA national, wrote.

Long waiting times meant another reader, Lester, was unable to make it home for Christmas. 

"Well, it takes them seven months or more to renew a straightforward permit. It took me three months to get an appointment, and it took them four more months to start processing and, finally, five days to approve (the permit). The worst part (is) I could not even travel home for Christmas. I mean, they can (at least) provide (a) temporary visa or passport till they process (the application). It's crazy that it's 2023, processing should be automated," Lester from Dal wrote in response to our survey.

Fatima, a foreign resident in Norway, shared their experience with The Local in 2022 or how long waiting times had prevented them from visiting sick family or being home following the death of her best friend. 

"Last week, I lost my closest friend and her two kids, but I couldn't be with my family because I don't have my visa. I can't visit my family. My parents are old and sick. I am so frustrated about my situation, which prevents me from visiting them," Fatima wrote in the spring of last year

In Fatima's case, her waiting time increased from three months when she applied to over 16 months by the time she contacted the local. Unfortunately, she isn't the only one who felt demoralised by seeing their waiting time increase several times. 

"My husband and I have been waiting for 18 months now, and still no news on our case. They (the UDI) first told us they would process our case in May (2022). Then, after May, they said September, and in September, they said before January 2023, and now they said we need to wait more months. They just keep us apart they don't know what we go through with two people who are married being separated," one reader who didn't wish to leave their name wrote. 

While several readers also said they found the process smooth, and the UDI has provided figures to indicate that waiting times are going down, large numbers of people are still being affected by long waiting times. 

Of the over 6,700 family immigration cases waiting to be processed before the end of last year, a quarter of those was submitted in 2021, according to figures provided by the UDI. 

One small positive is that the number of those who were waiting to receive a decision on their application had fallen by around 900 between October 2022 and December 31st 2022.

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Frazer Norwell 2023/01/23 12:36

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