Starting 15 July, the Government plans to allow the entry of foreign nationals from countries outside the EU/EEA (referred to as third-country nationals) who have family or an established romantic relationship in Norway. However, no exemptions are to be granted from quarantine duty or from ordinary provisions of the Immigration Act.
‘The Government is constantly working to strike the right balance between controlling infections and opening up. The current infection situation in Norway makes it possible for us to open up a little more. And since the entry restrictions we introduced as a result of the coronavirus have been so hard on families and romantic partners, I am happy we can now ease these a bit more for countries outside the EU and the EEA,’ said Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland.
‘But we must emphasise,’ she added, ‘that the entry restriction rules are in addition to the ordinary rules of entry contained in the Immigration Act. That means even if the entry restrictions are removed, the usual requirements for travel documents, visas etc. will continue to apply in full.’
The right of entry for foreign nationals moving to Norway as a result of family immigration is now to be fully reintroduced. Accordingly, family members who had been entitled to enter Norway to apply for a residence permit before the entry restrictions were imposed will once again have the opportunity to do so.
Quarantine rules still apply to family members and romantic partners
‘Romantic partners and family members must obey the general quarantine rules and remain in quarantine for 10 days, just like others who travel into Norway,’ the Minister of Justice and Public Security said. They must also submit documentation stating that they will live continuously at one address for 10 days, or for the period they will be here if that is less than 10 days.
While family members and romantic partners requiring a visa will thus enjoy the same right of entry as before the virus outbreak, it is important to be aware that practical challenges remain in some parts of the world with regard to submitting a visa application. The reason is that application centres abroad may be closed or have reduced capacity due to infection control concerns. The Norwegian authorities have limited or no ability to influence this. In recent weeks, however, more and more application centres have been opening as the countries where the application centres operate gradually relax their national restrictions.
An increase in the number of arrivals from third countries could potentially entail the import of coronavirus cases, causing Norway’s infection situation to deteriorate. The Government will therefore keep a close eye on developments and provide clear information about the responsibility to undergo quarantine and the infection control guidelines in force at any given time.
The changes are as follows:
Foreign nationals planning to move to or visit Norway:
- The right of entry for foreign nationals who plan to move to Norway as a result of family immigration is to be fully reintroduced. Accordingly, visa-free family members who had been entitled to enter Norway to apply for a residence permit before the entry restrictions were imposed will once again have the opportunity to do so.
- Family members requiring a visa may be granted an entry visa to stay in Norway pending their application review, according to ordinary rules in the Immigration Act and applicable guidelines of the Directorate of Immigration dating from before the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Family visits by close family members are also to be accommodated by the repeal of entry restrictions on visiting third-country nationals who have family members in Norway.
- “Family members” in this context refers to spouses/partners/cohabitants, parents and children under the age of 21, as well as stepfamily.
Entry by partners in a romantic relationship
- In addition to family members, the Government plans to allow the entry of romantic partners. Parties are required to have met each other physically, and to have been in the relationship for a period of at least nine months.
- The person who lives in Norway must submit a self-declaration which the relationship partner must present on arrival in Norway, confirming that the two requirements have been met.
Next step: General entry from certain countries outside Schengen area/EEA
Since 17 March the Schengen area, of which Norway is a part, has been temporarily closed for non-essential travel. The Council of the European Union has adopted a recommendation on easing the temporary restrictions and allowing entry from certain countries outside the Schengen area. Norway is following up this recommendation and aims to remove entry restrictions for certain third countries on the EU’s list to the extent the infection situation allows.
‘We are continuing our gradual, controlled opening to travel. The Government wants to build on the experience we gain as travel activities increase in the Nordic region and Europe before we open up to countries outside,’ said Ms Mæland.
Which countries to include initially and the exact time of opening are under consideration, with a decision to be announced at a later date. In accordance with established practice, the assessment of countries will be based on specific criteria, including the infection situation.