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What is Norway's immigration directorate doing to reduce work permit times?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
What is Norway's immigration directorate doing to reduce work permit times?
This is what the UDI is doing to improve waiting times for work permits. Pictured: A mockup of a residence card.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) took an average of 87 days to process a work permit last year. We asked them what they are doing to reduce waiting times.

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What is the reason for current long waiting times? 

The UDI puts down the slow processing times to the introduction of dual citizenship in 2020, which led to a surge in citizenship applications, which then combined with the backlog still left over from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"Work with entry restrictions required a lot of resources and both the UDI's and the police's work was affected in different ways by the corona situation," Karl Erik Sjøholt, the directorate's director of residence, told The Local.

"An important factor was also the opening for dual citizenship from January 2020, which resulted in a large increase in the number of citizenship applications." 

You can check the current wait times for different types of permit here

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What does the directorate want to do about it? 

The directorate hopes to clear the backlog of work permits by the end of 2023 and to then begin to reduce waiting waiting times for applications for residence permits as skilled workers to around 30 days, as it was before 2020, with only the most complex cases taking longer to process. 

What measures is UDI taking to solve the problem?

The directorate says it is only able to hire additional employees to process work permits "in line with the budget and any political wishes". 

It has, however, changed the way it organises its staff to bring more resources to work on the problem, and also changed the way it handles work permit cases.

"We are continually looking to make case handling more efficient." Sjøholt said. "We have changed the structural staff setup and [established] new collaboration methods [and] automated processes." 

The changed way of handling work permits reduced waiting times for most applicants in 2022, but meant that some of those who applied before January 1st 2022 have had to wait even longer. 

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In Norway, UDI has changed the way it handles cases to shorten waiting times at the start of 2022. While this has improved the situation for many applicants, it has also meant that some of the more complex applications submitted before the start of 2022 have taken even longer to process. 

"UDI is aware that some applicants from before 2022 have had to wait longer, but we have completed a large part of these cases, and most of the cases from before 2022 will be completed in the first half of 2023," a UDI spokesperson told The Local last week. 

The directorate also plans to start automating the processing of some work permit applications, after successfully using an automated system to process citizenship applications. 

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"We have good results from using automation in citizenship applications. In 2022 approximately 30 percent of all applications for citizenship were automatically processed," Sjøholt said. "We are also looking to expand automation to other case areas."

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