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More Nordic people wanted to become Norwegian in 2020

More Nordic people wanted to become Norwegian in 2020

| Text: Björn Lindahl, photo: private

2020 saw a tenfold increase in the number of citizens from other Nordic countries gaining Norwegian citizenship. From 1 January that year, it became possible to hold dual citizenships in Norway. 1,905 people applied to become Norwegian citizens while keeping their old citizenship.

“We were expecting an increase in 2020, but this was more than we had foreseen,” says Linda Kartawich, Head of Section at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration UDI.

Swedish citizens topped the list with 1,008 applications. One of them is Pernilla Cederlöf who moved to Norway in 2009 and met a man there – also he Swedish. They now have two children.

“We talked about this for a long time, but we were not prepared to give up our Swedish citizenships. What made us decide to apply was corona. We felt Norway’s strategy was better and that it would not be a bad idea to be citizens here. We felt a bit more protected.

“There were practical issues too, like having to travel to Sweden to renew your passport and not at least being able to vote in the country you live in.”

A clean criminal record

Nordic citizens applying for Norwegian citizenship must present their current passport or other such identification, as well as proof of a clean criminal record. If you have lived in Norway for seven years or more, you only need proof from the Norwegian criminal record. Unlike people of other nationalities, Nordic citizens do not have to sit a citizenship test.   

Despite these modest demands for documentation, the large number of applications and the corona pandemic have led to long waiting lists. After applying online, you have to collect your criminal record details from the police.  

“Once you have the police check, you take it to a meeting with UDI. For a long time, there were no appointments to be had there. I checked every day, and in September there were suddenly some available so that I and later my husband could complete the application. Once the meeting was over, it only took one week before everything was ready,” says Pernilla Cederlöf. 

Long waiting time

Towards the end of 2020, the average waiting time was 145 days. In Oslo, where most of the applicants live, it was 300 days according to UDI statistics. 

Linda Kartawich says extra resources will be in place in 2021. 

“The large number of applications have presented us with a capaCiTy challenge, but this is also because of the Covid-19 situation. In 2021, UDI will be granted 25 million kroner €2.4m) and the police 36.5 million kroner (€3.4m) to handle dual citizenship applications. That means around ten extra full-time jobs.” 

This pleases Erik Leifssøn. He is Danish and plans to apply for Norwegian citizenship. He works at the Norden Association’s administration in Oslo.

“I am surprised to hear about the long waiting times. I did not know about this, actually,” he says.

Erik Leifssøn met a Norwegian woman who studied in Denmark and moved with her to Oslo in 2014, where he studied for his Master’s.

Voting right important

“We have decided to remain here. I am interested in politics, so for me, it is important to have dual citizenship which allows me to influence the politics in the country where I live.”

Some of those who have applied for dual citizenship are Norwegian citizens who were forced to relinquish their original citizenships when marrying a person from a different country. There is no statistic showing the size of this group. 

Most applicants in 2020 were Swedes – more than double the number of Danes. But the percentage increase was far bigger for other Nordic citizens compared with 2019.

New Norwegians table

Nordic applicants make up only one-tenth of the total number of applications for Norwegian citizenship. 19,469 applied and were granted citizenship in 2020, an increase of 48% compared to 2019. The largest group were Somalis – 2,978 people – and Eritreans – 2,750.

Doubly Nordic

Both Erik Leifssøn (above left) and Pernilla Cederlöf have settled in Norway because of love. Pernilla got her dual citizenship in 2020, together with 1905 other Nordic citizens.


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