Residence permit requirements
Types of residence permits
Residence permit exceptions
Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have legal residence in Norway. This article provides an overview of the various requirements that employers must be aware of in this regard, and of recent immigration changes in light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
When determining the legal residence requirements that must be met in order to work in Norway, there are three groups that are based on employee nationality:
- Nordic citizens – they do not need a residence permit or a similar document to work in Norway;
- citizens from non-Nordic EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries – they do not need a residence permit to work in Norway, but they must enrol in a registration scheme if their work in Norway will exceed three months; and
- non-EU and EEA citizens (including UK and US citizens) – they must typically have a residence permit for work before they can start working in Norway. There are some exceptions to this requirement, but the general condition is that the assignment or stay in Norway lasts less than three months.
There are a number of different residence permits for work. The most common requires the employee to be a "skilled worker". This means that the person in question must have completed higher education (ie, a bachelor's degree) or vocational training (eg, an electrician). Alternatively, they could have a long period of work experience in the relevant industry.
The type of residence permit in question depends on how the employment relationship is organised – for example, whether:
- the person's employer is in Norway or abroad;
- the person in question will work for the group's Norwegian company or for an external customer;
- the person in question is a special type of employee (ie, an offshore worker); or
- the person is self-employed and their company is registered.
Once it has been clarified which residence permit is correct, the application process can start. The first thing that must be done is to write, complete and possibly collect all documentation that must accompany the application, which must be rendered in Norwegian or English.
The employee must also fill in a digital application and book a meeting with the Norwegian authorities, either in Norway or abroad. Such documentation must be submitted in person. If the applicant is submitting in Norway, they can normally give others a power of attorney to meet and deliver the documents on their behalf in Norway.
The Directorate of Immigration processes and decides whether to approve each application. The processing time varies, but the Directorate of Immigration normally reviews the application within eight weeks, provided that nothing is missing.
Previously, applicants would receive a written confirmation that they could work in Norway while the application was being processed if they had requested this and it was likely that the application would be granted. In recent years, however, the norm has become to wait until the application has been processed. The authorities prioritise applications only in exceptional situations.
Family members of the employee who is applying for a residence permit to work in Norway will normally also be able to obtain a residence permit during the same period and each family member must make a separate residence permit application.
As mentioned, there are some exceptions to the requirement that citizens outside the Nordic region, the European Union and the EEA must have a residence permit to work in Norway. The common denominator for these is that the assignment lasts less than three months. The most practical exceptions for multinational companies are:
- persons who are employed in the foreign part of an international company and who will participate in (but will not be in charge of) training in the company's Norwegian department;
- trade and business travellers (ie, people who will attend meetings, conferences or contract discussions); and
- certain technical experts who will assemble, disassemble, inspect, repair or maintain machinery or technical equipment. For these experts, a written notification must be sent to the police before the person travels to Norway.
Norway has now implemented temporary collective protection for Ukrainian citizens and their close family members who were resident in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 or who were granted protection before that date.
Those who have the right to, and use, collective protection can also work legally in Norway without the need for further applications and permissions. Other people who are fleeing Ukraine (eg, foreign nationals who have worked there) cannot work legally in Norway until they have applied for, and been granted, a residence permit for work according to the usual rules.
For further information on this topic please contact Ole Kristian Olsby or Lise Gran at Homble Olsby | Littler by telephone (+47 23 89 75 70) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Homble Olsby | Littler website can be accessed at www.homble-olsby.no.