After restrictions on immigration into Norway were introduced in 1975, Norway has had restricted and regulated immigration. This means that no one has general access to enter Norway to work or live except for the following two exempted groups:
- Nationals from the non Nordic EEA countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Liechtenstein. Though these citizens are still required to apply for a residence or work permit in order to settle in Norway, special conditions have been incorporated into the Immigration Act and the Immigration Regulations concerning residence permits for this group. A residence permit will in most instances also give citizens of these countries the right to take employment in Norway, such that the notion of 'work permit' in actual fact no longer applies. Students have also been given the opportunity to take part-time employment.
- Nationals from the Nordic countries: Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Nationals from these countries do not need residence or work permits.
All other nationals must apply for a work or residence permit before they go to Norway. An application for such a permit can be handed in at the Norwegian Embassy, but will be evaluated at the Directorate of Immigration. Information on how to apply for a work or a residence permit in Norway can be found on the Directorate of Immigration’s homepage.
Norway has signed the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees from 1951 (Refugee Convention), and is therefore obliged to grant refugees protection. The Immigration Act of 1988 determines who is entitled to protection in Norway.
Asylum is given only to persons who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Social and economical difficulties do not qualify for asylum or a residence permit.
It is important to note that it is not possible to seek asylum at any Norwegian Embassy. Asylum can only be applied for with the border police in Norway and at the police stations in Norway. Secondly, according to the Dublin convention, an asylum seeker who has been refused asylum in another Schengen state, for instance Iceland, will not be able to have his case tried in Norway.