ICLG: Corporate Immigration 2018
If you are setting up an enterprise or business in Norway, transferring workers to Norway, or planning on becoming an expat in Norway, there are various obligations that employers and employees must comply to. This guide summarizes the obligations and processes that apply when working and living in Norway.
1.1 What are the main sources of immigration law in your jurisdiction?
The Immigration Act with regulations, which regulates the entrance into and residence in Norway, is the main source.
Other significant sources are the EEA-agreement and the Schengen-agreement, which have implications on Norwegian immigration law.
1.2 What authorities administer the corporate immigration system in your jurisdiction?
The Directorate of Immigration handles most cases under the Immigration Act, including applications for visa and residence and work permits.
The Labour Inspection Authority’s main responsibility is supervision of compliance with the labour legislation. However, the Labour Inspection Authority also oversees that enterprises employing foreign nationals comply with the conditions for residence permits with regard to pay, other working conditions and the extent of the position, and that the conditions for residence permits for citizens from the EU/EEA-area are complied with.
1.3 Is your jurisdiction part of a multilateral agreement between countries (EU/NAFTA/MERCOSUR) which facilitates the movement of people between countries for employment purposes?
Norway is party to the EEA-agreement, which is an agreement entered into between the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Free mobility of employees, services and goods, and the freedom to establish enterprises within the EU/EEA-area are the four core principles. Citizens of EU/EEA-countries may freely enter into, reside and work in the EU/EEA-area, without a visa or residence permit.
Norway is also party to the Schengen-agreement, which aims for free movement between the member states by creating an internal area without border control.
The Nordic countries have entered into multilateral agreements, entailing the citizens of the Nordic countries freely to enter into, reside and work in other Nordic countries without applying for a visa or residence permit.
2 Business Visitors
2.1 Can business visitors enter your jurisdiction under a relevant visa waiver programme?
Foreign nationals from the Nordic countries, the EU/EEA-area and Switzerland may enter into and stay in Norway without a visa, cf. question 1.3. The same applies to citizens from countries that have entered into bilateral or multilateral agreements with Norway concerning visa-free entrance. Foreign nationals with a Schengen visa issued in another country party to the Schengen-agreement may freely enter Norway.
2.2 What is the maximum period for which business visitors can enter your jurisdiction?
The maximum period a foreign national may stay in Norway on a visa is 90 days within a period of 180 days.
Foreign nationals that are able to document a need for frequent visits to Norway and the Schengen-area may be granted a multiple-entry visa valid for up to five years.
2.3 What activities are business visitors able to undertake?
A Schengen visa may be issued for all purposes not requiring a residence permit, i.e. visiting family members or organisations, participating in cultural arrangements, tourism or business purposes. Business purposes includes participation in meetings and conferences, leading contractual discussions and similar.
As the main rule, foreign nationals shall have a residence permit in order to perform work in Norway. Some categories of foreign nationals may however work on a visa, provided that the work does not exceed three months, cf. question 2.4.
2.4 Are there any special visitor categories which will enable business visitors to undertake work or provide services for a temporary period?
As the main rule, foreign nationals must have a residence permit granting the right to work in order to work in Norway. Some categories of foreign nationals are exempt from this requirement. However, in order to enter into and stay in Norway, the foreign nationals must hold a visa or be entitled to visa-free entry. Further there are strict requirements as to the duration of the work, the stay, and the type of work assignments that apply.
The categories are:
- Commercial and business travellers.
- Persons with technical qualifications who are to install, disassemble, inspect, repair, maintain or provide information on the use of machinery or technical equipment.
- Foreign nationals in the private service of persons visiting Norway for a period of up to three months.
- Professional athletes and accompanying support personnel.
- Public employees in the pay of another state, when they come to Norway on the basis of a cooperation agreement between foreign and Norwegian authorities.
- Journalists and other personnel on assignment for a foreign media institution.
- Tourist guides for foreign travel companies in connection with a visit to Norway.
- Personnel on foreign trains, aircraft, buses and trucks in international traffic.
- Necessary security and maintenance crew on foreign-owned- laid-up ships in Norway.
- Researchers, lecturers and religious workers.
- Foreign nationals who are employed in an international company and are to undergo in-house training.
- Musicians, performers, artists or accompanying necessary auxiliary personnel on assignments in Norway not exceeding 14 days in the course of a calendar year.
- Foreign nationals that are employed in an organisation performing international humanitarian work.
2.5 Can business visitors receive short-term training?
Yes, see the answer to question 2.4.
3 Immigration Compliance and Illegal Working
3.1 Do the national authorities in your jurisdiction operate a system of compliance inspections of employers who regularly employ foreign nationals?
The Labour Inspection Authority superintend that enterprises employing foreign nationals comply with the conditions for residence permits with regard to pay and other working conditions, cf. the answer to question 1.2.
The Labour Inspection Authority annually performs thousands of inspections at work places, including work places with foreign employees, with the aim to combat social dumping and poor working conditions. The inspections may be announced or unannounced.
The Labour Inspection Authority may also demand that enterprises present documentation necessary for the performance of the supervision.
3.2 What are the rules on the prevention of illegal working?
The Labour Inspection Authority, the Labour and Welfare Administration, the police and the Tax Administration are currently working under a common action programme for strengthened effort against working life crime. The authorities cooperate through various measures, i.e. controls, cooperation with other authorities and preventive and guidance activities.
3.3 What are the penalties for organisations found to be employing foreign nationals without permission to work?
Performance of work without a work permit is a legal offence, and may lead to a criminal liability for both the employee and employer. The employee may be expelled from Norway and the Schengen-area on the grounds of illegal work, for a minimum period of two years.
The Labour Inspection Authority may issue orders and other individual decisions, impose coercive fines and administrative fines and halt work activities in order to fulfil the duty of supervision concerning fulfilment of the conditions for residence permits.
An employer that grossly or repeatedly violates the Immigration Act with regulations, with regard to pay or other working conditions, may be banned from employing foreign nationals for a period of two years.
4 Corporate Immigration – General
4.1 Is there a system for registration of employers who wish to hire foreign nationals?
No, there is no particular system for Norwegian employers who wish to hire foreign nationals.
The website www.nav.no/workinnorway/en/Home is hosted by the Norwegian government, and provides i.a. information for Norwegian companies considering recruiting foreign employees. Employers may post vacancies on www.nav.no.
The website www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business provides information for foreign self-employed persons and enterprises considering to establish a business in Norway. Foreign nationals and enterprises seeking to establish a business in Norway must register the business at the Brønnøysund Register Centre, www. brreg.no. A registration fee applies.
4.2 Do employers who hire foreign nationals have ongoing duties to ensure immigration compliance?
Employers are in general obligated to comply with Norwegian law, including Norwegian immigration law. Employers are i.a. obligated to ensure that the foreign national has a right to work in Norway prior to employing the person concerned, and that the foreign national receives pay and other working conditions on the same level as the Norwegian employees.
4.3 Are employers who hire foreign nationals required to show a commitment to train or up-skill local workers?
No. But employers are obligated to ensure that their employees, whether Norwegian or foreign, at all times have the competence required to hold the position.
4.4 Are employers who hire foreign nationals required to pay government charges and fees which contribute towards the training or up-skilling of local workers?
No, see question 4.3.
4.5 Do the immigration authorities undertake routine inspections of employers who sponsor foreign nationals, to verify immigration compliance?
See question 3.1.
4.6 Do the immigration authorities maintain a list of skilled occupations which may be lled by foreign nationals?
No, immigration authorities do not maintain such a list.
4.7 Is there a recognition that some occupations may be in short supply and do special exemptions apply to certain sectors and occupations?
No, there is no such recognition.
4.8 Are there annual quotas for different types of employment-related work permits or visas?
There is a quota for residence permits for skilled workers (5,000 workers per year) and for seasonal workers in agriculture and forestry. The quotas have never been filled. Otherwise, quotas do not apply.
4.9 Are there restrictions on the number of foreign workers an employer may sponsor, in relation to a maximum percentage of foreign workers in the employer’s workforce?
No. There is no restriction on the number of foreign workers an employer may sponsor.
4.10 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to demonstrate language proficiency?
No. Language requirements are, however, a condition for being granted a permanent residence permit, cf. question 6.2.
4.11 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to undergo medical examinations before being admitted?
No, not in general. Medical examinations may, however, be required in order to perform certain professions, regardless of whether the employee is Norwegian or foreign.
4.12 Are employees who are sponsored to work in your jurisdiction required to have medical insurance or are they entitled to any free public medical services?
Anyone who takes up employment in Norway will be enrolled automatically in the Norwegian Insurance Scheme. As a member of the Insurance scheme, one is entitled to public medical services. Necessary healthcare will then be covered by the national healthcare service, and the patient will only be charged with user fees. When it comes to dental treatment, children receive free public treatment, but in principle adults have to cover the expenses themselves. For more information concerning healthcare for foreign nationals in Norway, see www.helsenorge.no.
4.13 Does the work permit system allow employees who hold work permits to be seconded to a client site?
It depends on the type of work permit. A residence permit as a skilled worker with a Norwegian employer, cf. question 5.1, entitles the foreign national to change employer as long as the new position requires competence as skilled worker and the foreign national holds the required competence.
5 Highly Skilled Visas
5.1 Is there an immigration category which covers highly skilled individuals?
Yes, there is a main category covering residence permits for skilled workers. “Skilled workers” refers to employees who have special training which as a minimum corresponds to upper secondary school level, have a craft certificate, have a university college or university education or who have special qualifications.
There are several subcategories under the residence permit for skilled workers:
- Skilled workers with an employer in Norway.
- Employees of international companies who are going for an assignment for the Norwegian branch of the company.
- Employees of companies abroad who are going on assignment in Norway.
- Offshore workers.
- Athletes or coaches.
- Ethnic cooks.
- Religious leaders/teachers.
- Self-employed persons with a company in Norway.
- Self-employed persons with a company abroad.
All the subcategories require fulfilment of the basic criteria for being a skilled worker. However, the rights vary between the subcategories.
6 Investment or Establishment Work Permits
6.1 Is there an immigration category which permits employees to be authorised to work based on investment into your jurisdiction?
No. However, self-employed persons may be granted a residence permit as skilled workers, under the subcategory “self-employed persons with a company in Norway”, cf. question 5.1, provided that the person intends to engage in a permanent business activity in Norway and his presence is necessary for the establishment of the business.
Permits may be granted for one year at a time, and may be renewed. After three years, the foreign national may apply for permanent residence.
7 Temporary Work Permits
7.1 Is there an immigration category permitting the hiring of temporary workers for exchanges, career development, internships or other non-economic purposes?
The following categories cover residence and work permits for foreign nationals that are to be hired for a fixed, time-limited period:
- Researchers who are to carry out research at a university, an institute or the like, may be granted a residence and work period for a total of two years.
- Trainees may be granted a residence and work permit for a total of two years.
- Foreign nationals who have been placed as a working guest in agriculture through an organisation may be granted a permit for a total of three months.
- Associates in an established organisation performing non-pro t or humanitarian work may be granted a residence and work permit for a total of four years. The same applies to associates in an established organisation performing religious operations.
- Au pairs may be granted a residence and work permit for a total of two years.
- Young people who are to take a working holiday and who are covered by a working holiday agreement between Norway and another state may be granted a residence and work permit for a total of two years.
7.2 Are there sector-specific temporary work permit categories which enable foreign workers to perform temporary work?
See questions 2.4 and 7.1.
8 Group or Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits
8.1 Does a specific immigration category exist for inter-company transfers within international groups of companies?
Yes. A foreign national may be granted a residence permit as a skilled worker, under the subcategory “employees of international companies who are going for an assignment for the Norwegian branch of the company”, cf. question 5.1.
The employee must be employed by an enterprise that has a contract with an enterprise in Norway to carry out an assignment in Norway. As the main rule, the offer of an assignment must be for one specific enterprise in Norway.
8.2 What conditions must an employing company or organisation fulfil in order to qualify as part of a group of companies?
There are no conditions. The terms and content of the residence permit under this subcategory is the same as under the subcategory “employees of companies abroad who are going on assignment in Norway”.
8.3 What conditions must the employer ful l in order to obtain a work permit for an intra-company group employee?
There is no particular process for this subcategory. However, the employee must have pay and working conditions that are not poorer than the Norwegian standard. The employer abroad must therefore ensure this.
8.4 What is the process for obtaining a work permit for an intra-company group employee?
The foreign national has to apply for a residence permit as a skilled worker, cf. question 5.1. The foreign national must register the application online, and book an appointment, and physically hand over the original application and the required documentation. A passport or other valid identity card must also be presented.
The appointment shall normally be held at a Norwegian foreign service mission in the country of nationality or the country where the foreign national has held a residence permit for the last six months.
Foreign nationals may document that they qualifiy as a skilled worker, cf. question 5.1, and may apply from Norway, provided that they have legal entry and residence in Norway. The appointment will be held at a police station or Service Centre for Foreign Workers in the police district where the foreign national is to reside.
The Directorate will assess whether the conditions for granting the work permit is fulfilled, based on received documentation.
8.5 What is the process for the employee to obtain a visa under the intra-company group transfer category?
There is no specific visa covering intra-company group transfers.
8.6 How long does the process of obtaining the work permit and initial visa take?
An application for a work permit under the subcategory mentioned in question 8.1 is usually handled within ve to six weeks from submission.
8.7 How long are visas under the “initial” category valid for, and can they be extended?
Work permits under the subcategory mentioned in question 8.1 are granted for two years at a time.
The permit may be renewed. If the residence permit has been granted for up to six years, the foreign national must live outside Norway for two years before applying for a new permit under this category.
8.8 Can employees coming under the intra-company transfer route apply for permanent residence?
No. Time spent in Norway under this subcategory does not give grounds for permanent residence.
8.9 What are the main government fees associated with this type of visa?
Application for residence permits for work (including renewals) requires payment of an application fee of NOK 5,400. Additional fees may apply if the application is handed in at a foreign service mission.
9 New Hire Work Permits
9.1 What is the main immigration category used for employers who wish to obtain work permits for new hires?
The main immigration category for work permits for Norwegian employers who want to hire foreign nationals with residence permits as skilled workers, is the subcategory “skilled worker with an employer in Norway”, cf. question 5.1. The following questions in section 9 are based on this subcategory of residence permit as skilled worker.
9.2 Is there a requirement for labour market testing,
to demonstrate that there are no suitable resident workers, before a work permit can be issued to new hires?
Yes, formally. Residence permit as skilled worker presupposes that the employee falls within the quota for skilled workers (5,000 workers). If the quota has been filled, a permit may be granted when the position cannot be filled by domestic labour or labour from the EU/EEA-area or Switzerland. However, the quota has never been filled.
9.3 Are there any exemptions to carrying out a resident labour market test?
Yes. The requirement does not apply to citizens of a country that is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), if the foreign national is employed in an international company.
9.4 What is the process for obtaining a work permit for a new hire?
See question 8.4.
9.5 What is the process for the employee to obtain a visa as a new hire?
As a main rule, foreign nationals must have a work permit in order to work in Norway. Exceptions are limited, see questions 2.3 and 2.4.
9.6 How long does the process of obtaining the work permit and initial visa for a new hire take?
See question 8.6.
9.7 How long are initial visas for new hires granted for and can they be extended?
Residence permits may be granted for up to three years at a time if the position requires a completed education or degree from a university or college, and for up to one year at the time if the position only requires completed secondary education.
9.8 Is labour market testing required when the employee extends their residence?
Yes. The conditions for a first-time residence permit must be fulfilled in order to be granted renewal.
9.9 Can employees coming as new hires apply for permanent residence?
Yes. After three years, the foreign national may apply for a permanent residence permit.
9.10 What are the main government fees associated with this type of visa?
Application for residence permits for work (including renewals) requires payment of an application fee of NOK 5,400. Additional fees may apply if the application is handed in at a foreign service mission.
10 Conditions of Stay for Work Permit Holders
10.1 What are the conditions of stay of those who obtain work permits and are resident on this basis?
The conditions vary with the type of work permit. The conditions and limitations shall appear from the permit.
A first-time residence permit shall be granted as a temporary residence permit. The permit is normally granted for a period of at least one year, but does not exceed three years. The duration shall not exceed the length of the employment relationship.
- A residence permit contains the following conditions, unless otherwise prescribed in law:
- The right to reside anywhere in Norway.
- The right to take employment and engage in business activities anywhere in Norway.
- The right to repeated entry into Norway.
The permit provides a basis for a permanent residence permit.
10.2 Are work permit holders required to register with municipal authorities or the police after their arrival?
Yes. Foreign nationals must register with the local authorities in order to receive a D-number, which is a temporary identity number, and a tax card.
11.1 Who qualifies as a dependant of a person coming to work on a sponsored basis?
Spouses, registered partners, cohabitants, fiancés, children and parents of the employee all qualify as dependants, and may, under certain conditions, be granted a residence permit in family immigration with the employee.
The employee has to fulfil certain criteria, including requirements as to means of subsistence and accommodation and conduct.
11.2 Do civil/unmarried or same-sex partners qualify as family members?
Yes. A cohabitant only qualifies as a dependant if the relationship has lasted for at least two years or the cohabitants are expecting a child, and provided that neither of the cohabitants are married to someone else at the time of the decision.
11.3 Do spouses and partners have access to the labour market when they are admitted as dependants?
Yes. As the main rule, a residence permit grants the right to take employment and engage in business activities anywhere in Norway.
11.4 Do children have access to the labour market?
Yes, under certain requirements as to work and work conditions.
Children at the age of 15 years or older normally have free access to the labour market, provided that requirements as to working conditions for employees under the age of 18 years are fulfilled. Children under the age of 15 years have limited access to the labour market.
12 Permanent Residence
12.1 What are the conditions for obtaining permanent residence?
Foreign nationals that have resided in Norway for the last three years, under a temporary residence permit that provides a basis for a permanent residence, may apply for a permanent residence permit.
Such permit shall be granted if the following conditions are met:
- The foreign national has not stayed outside Norway for more than seven months in total over the course of the last three years.
- The conditions for a temporary residence permit are still fulfilled.
- The conditions for expulsion are not fulfilled.
- The foreign national has completed compulsory Norwegian language training.
- The foreign national has achieved a minimum level of spoken Norwegian in the final Norwegian language examination.
- The foreign national has completed compulsory training in social knowledge and has passed the final examination in social knowledge in a language he or she understands.
- The foreign national has been self-supporting for the past 12 months.
12.2 Is it possible to switch from a temporary work visa to a work visa which leads to permanent residence?
The foreign national is entitled to a permanent residence if the conditions for a permanent residence permit is fulfilled, cf. question 12.1.
13 Bars to Admission
13.1 What are the main bars to admission for work?
The foreign national may not be granted a residence permit with the right to work if the conditions for expulsion are ful lled. Violations of the penal legislation or the Immigration Act with regulations qualifies as grounds for expulsion.
13.2 Are criminal convictions a bar to obtaining work permission or a visa?
Yes, cf. question 13.1.
Want to stay up-to-date?
At Ræder, we are passionate about our fields of expertise and keen to share what we know and learn. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.