Norway Visas, Work Permits and Migration
As well as the obvious attractions of this beautiful country with its glaciers, fjords and green spaces, Norway is also known for being one of the ‘best places in the world to live’. It boasts a top-notch welfare system, a country putting personal development and a healthy working environment ahead of financial reward.
However, they also operate complicated systems, whether payroll, benefits, or ‘working documentation’ such as permits and visas. Everyone needs to be responsible for ensuring the correct paperwork is in place, whether individuals or companies, when entering Norway for business or pleasure.
There is also another option which involves sourcing staff directly from the local Norwegian labor market, cutting out that red tape. Hiring locally can bring its own ‘need to know’ issues, and our local recruitment specialists in our Professional Employer Organization (PEO) networks have a handle on all work-related legislation and compliance. The result? Your company is up and running within days rather than weeks or even months.
What Types of Work Visas, and Permits
As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as the Schengen agreement, there are many countries whose nationals have free movement within Norway. Also, many countries have agreements regarding travelling visa-free. For all other nationalities, a Visitor’s Visa (Schengen Visa) needs to be applied for; for any longer or to work in Norway, a Residence Permit is required.
There are also exemptions regarding those wishing to work in Norway. EU and EEA citizens and those of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden can enter and work without visas or permits. Workers from the EU and EEA are required to register with the local police station within three months of arriving in the country; Nordic countries’ citizens, however, do not.
For all other foreigners e.g., Third Country Nationals (TCNs), the following are required:
- Residence Permit (FKA – Work Permit) is needed from the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and in most cases a confirmed job offer is also a pre-requisite
- An Entry Visa to allow admittance to Norway – but this is not permission to work
- Resident Card. Within seven days of entering Norway, worker must register with the police, and they will order a Resident Card which can be used as proof of having a residence permit
There are different categories available for – Work, Study or Permanent Residence.
The Residence Permit for work, was previously called a Work Permit. The type applied for will depend on education, occupation or skill set e.g., skilled workers, ethnic chefs, the self-employed or humanitarian employees.
For employers/companies whose employees require a work permit: From outside Norway
- Your employee requires a firm job offer to apply for a Residence Permit (work permit)
- For skilled workers (or seasonal), employers can apply for the Residence Permit on their behalf but will require a power of attorney to give permission
- Employees cannot work until a Residence Permit has been authorized by the UDI and police
- When approved, the Residence Permit will have a validity period and most can be renewed, but this should be done well before the permit expires (2-3 months)
- Once approved the worker (if not exempt) has to apply for an Entry Visa at their local Norwegian Embassy
The Early Employment Start Scheme can circumvent the process in some cases but needs to be applied for by employers in Norway:
- Check at the local police office to see if the employee qualifies
- Employees should have provided all required paperwork
- Have the necessary educational qualifications i.e., degree, vocational diplomas
- Employer needs power of attorney and show this upon submitting application to police
- When submitting the Residence Permit application, the employer asks for the Early Employment Start Scheme
- When confirmation has been received, the employee can begin work in anticipation of the Residence Permit but must not change employers
- If entry visa is required (not exempt), this can be done at a local Norwegian Embassy / Consulate (or Swedish/Danish Embassy if there is no Norwegian Embassy) and the confirmation of the early employment start must be included with other documents
- Within seven days of arriving in Norway, the employee must report to the police with their passport to register and order their residence card (plastic) as proof of permit
Note: This scheme is not available to those employees who submit their own application form to a local Embassy in home country.
For Employers hiring foreign workers from inside Norway
- Employers need to check workers have a valid residence permit and residence card for work or if they have the right of residence due to association with the EU/EEA, a registration certificate
- Those holding a Residence Permit for a Skilled Worker can change employers without the need for another permit but must be employed in the same work in a similar position. They must comply with conditions of their work permit including salary requirements (not below those held by a local Norwegian in a similar position)
- If worker has a permit with a previous employer for work and occupation a new Residence Permit must be applied for. Fines and sanctions (imprisonment) apply for those employers who have foreign workers without the correct paperwork
A Skilled Worker Permit
- Must be educated to a higher degree or have completed vocational training e.g.
- Three years’ vocational training course with similar in Norway
- A pertinent degree
- Experience in relevant position including courses taken equivalent to vocational training
- AND have a confirmed job offer
- Full time or working 80%
- Employee qualifications must fit the job position
- Salary must be the same or more than the average Norwegian salary
- OR want to work as a self-employed person running their own business
After three years, the employee qualifies to apply for Permanent Residence.
The employee can change employers (though not the type of work or position) without the need to apply for a new permit. However, a new position or changing the type of work even with the same employer, then a new permit needs to be applied for.
There are also permits for employees of international companies going to Norway to work in their company’s branch, or for those from international companies on assignment.
Entry Visa – this does not allow for paid employment but will be necessary to travel to Norway for those foreign nationals who are not visa exempt. They can apply through a local embassy / consulate if they have applied or in the process of applying for a Skilled Worker Residence Permit (or other categories of Residence Permit).
When arriving in Norway, they will need to register with the police to book an appointment for a Residence Card.