In 2020, Norway received 33 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status), -28.7% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 52.9% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 8.9% labour migrants, 27% family members (including accompanying family) and 11.2% humanitarian migrants. Around 2 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 4 800 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants.

Poland, Sweden and Lithuania were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, India registered the largest decrease (-1 300) in flows to Norway compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 20.5% to reach around 1 600. The majority of applicants came from Syria (600), Afghanistan (300) and Eritrea (200). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Afghanistan (200) and the largest decrease nationals of Russia (-15). Of the 1 340 decisions taken in 2021, 83% were positive.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway reintroduced previously lifted entry restrictions in January 2021 for the first half of 2021. Since then they were gradually removed.

From January 2021 on, British citizens and their family members, who were in Norway before the end of 2020 maintain their rights to reside, work or study in Norway.

Norway’s new Integration Act entered into force in January 2021. Among the major changes, the Introduction Programme for refugees and their families became more flexible to last between six months to four years instead of the previous two years. The new provisions ease the completion of upper secondary education during participation, via the inclusion of counties that also received more co-ordination and planning responsibilities.

The new Act replaced the previous requirement of hours of training in the Norwegian language with a requirement to achieve a minimum level between A2 and B2 depending on prior education and skills. Two other policy changes relate to language abilities. Amendments to the Social Services Act in 2021 made completed language training a condition for receiving financial assistance. From January 2022 onwards, public sector institutions must use qualified interpreters when necessary to provide public services.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptations to the new Integration Act provided more flexibility for participants and additional funding to increase the use of online Norwegian language training and strengthen the Job Opportunity Program. To enhance the skills and qualifications among all unemployed and the temporarily laid-off, a scheme allowed combining training with unemployment benefits, which was replaced by permanent regulations in October 2021.

Norway introduced several new Action Plans, including for the Freedom from Negative Social Control and Honour Based Violence (2021-24), a new Action Plan against Antisemitism (2021-23), and a revised strategy for combating work-related crime. A new strategy to strengthen the role of civil society in developing and implementing the integration policy (2021-24) includes a commitment to increased economic support to NGOs.

From December 2020, the required period of residence to achieve a permanent residence permit for humanitarian migrants was extended from three to five years. From October 2021, the introduction benefit can no longer count towards the income requirement for family migration. At the same time, students in primary and secondary education can be exempt from the self-sufficiency requirement. From January 2022, Norway raised the general duration required for naturalisation from seven years of residence in the last ten years to eight of the last 11 years. The requirement can be six years for applicants with a high income.

A temporary regularisation scheme from June to December 2021 allowed refused asylum seekers who fulfilled several conditions, including having lived in Norway for at least 16 years by October 2021 and a combined age and time spent in Norway of at least 65 years to regularise.

For further information: | |

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at