Record fall in immigration last year


A total of 58 200 people immigrated to Norway in 2017, 8 600 fewer than the previous year. The decline is the largest ever, and is largely due to the drop in immigrants from Syria.

Net immigration to Norway was 21 300 in 2017, down 4 700 from the previous year. The decline was a result of 8 600 fewer immigrations and 3 900 fewer emigrations. Since the exceptional year in 2016, immigration from Asia, and especially Syria, has again fallen, which explains much of the decline in total immigration. At the same time, fewer people moved from Norway, although the figure is the third largest measured. There are especially fewer from Asian and Nordic countries leaving Norway.

Lower immigration, especially from Asia

A total of 58 200 people immigrated to Norway in 2017. Of these, 8 400 were Norwegian citizens and 49 800 were foreign. The decline from one year to another has never been greater since records began in 1958. It is especially the immigration of Asian citizens that has been reduced, with a large proportion of Syrians. Much of the explanation lies in the introduction of border controls in the Schengen area and in the EU-Turkey Agreement that were introduced in spring 2016 to limit the asylum flow to Europe in the wake of the refugee crisis that occurred in autumn 2015.

A total of 5 100 fewer people immigrated to Norway from Asia, of which 4 200 were from Syria. There were also fewer Europeans to Norway, with a total of 1 900, of which 900 were from EU countries in Eastern Europe and 600 from other Nordic countries. Immigration from Africa fell by 1 300.

Half of the 49 800 foreign citizens who came to Norway came from Europe.

Persistent high emigration

The three-year period with the highest emigration from Norway is 2015-2017. Following the peak in 2016, 36 800 people emigrated in 2017, which is a fall of 3 900. Of these, 10 200 were Norwegian citizens and 26 600 were foreign.

Seventy-eight per cent of foreign emigrants were European citizens. Nearly two out of four European emigrants (excluding Norwegians) were citizens from EU countries in Eastern Europe, while one in four were citizens from other Nordic countries. The fact that so many citizens from EU countries in Eastern Europe leave Norway is linked to the fact that changes in economic conditions at home and abroad in recent years have made it relatively less attractive to work in Norway.

The biggest decline in emigration was among the groups from Asia and other Nordic countries.

Fewer from Asia and Africa, just as many from Europe

Net immigration of Asian and African citizens fell by 3 800 and 1 000 respectively from the previous year. The number of European citizens (excluding Norwegians) was unchanged, although there were changes in the composition of the group. The number from EU countries in Eastern Europe decreased by 500, while the number from other Nordic countries increased by 400.

Syrian, Eritrean and Afghan citizens were again the three groups with the largest net immigration, although they experienced a greater decline in numbers than other groups. The Syrian group is still clearly the largest, with an immigration surplus of 6 900. Of the ten largest citizenship groups, seven came from Asia. The groups from India, Lithuania, Iraq and Sweden had the greatest increase from the previous year, with a modest increase of between 300 and 600.

For the third consecutive year, fewer Swedish citizens came to Norway than the amount that moved away. In 2017, the immigration deficit was 400, which is 300 lower than the previous year. There are still more Polish and Lithuanian people immigrating than emigrating, but the surplus is reduced and is around 600 for both groups.

The percentage of foreign nationals from the various continents was more or less unchanged from the previous year. This is in strong contrast to the decline from 2014 to 2016, when the Asian proportion rose significantly and the European fell. Asian citizens accounted for 59 per cent of the net immigration of foreign citizens in 2017, while European and African citizens accounted for around 17 per cent each.