Reports 2015/23

Family immigration and marriage patterns 1990-2013

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Family immigration, which is defined as persons granted residence on the basis of family relations to someone residing in Norway, accounted for 40 per cent of the non-Nordic immigration to Norway in the period 1990-2013. Family immigration has increased over time, with four times as many family immigrants arriving in 2013 compared to 1990.

We often separate family immigrants into two groups: those reuniting with family members, and those establishing a new family. During the period, six out of ten family immigrants came to reunite with family members in Norway, while four out of ten came to establish a new family. The number of family reunifications has increased, particularly since the turn of the millennium, primarily due to the influx of migrant workers from the new EEA countries. The number of family establishments has remained stable.

Most of the immigrants who came to establish a family did so to marry non-immigrants or Norwegian-born to immigrant parents. Of those who came to marry persons without an immigrant background, seven out of ten were women.

The number of immigrants who came to establish a family with Norwegian-born to immigrant parents is low; less than 200 a year since the turn of the millennium. This is despite the fact that the number of unmarried adults in this population is increasing. About half of this population have married Norwegian-born with immigrant parents from Pakistan. The number of family establishments has not increased despite the large increase in unmarried Norwegian-born with immigrant parents from Pakistan from 1990 to 2013.

Part of the reason why family establishments among young Norwegian-born to immigrant parents have not increased is because it has become less common for Norwegian-born to immigrant parents to marry at a young age, and because those who marry often find a spouse in Norway.

With regard to the age of both parties when establishing a family, far more are under 24 years of age among those who immigrate due to family establishment than among the reference persons. Thirteen per cent of immigrants aged 18-23 who came to Norway due to family establishment in 2013 had a sponsor who was also below the age of 24.

The consequence of a 24-year rule, as the lower limit for family establishment, is likely to be that the 170 young reference persons (aged 18-23 years) who were part of family establishment in 2013 would have had to postpone family establishment for a few years, until they were 24. It also means that the 601 immigrants who came to Norway in 2013 to establish a family (aged 18-23 years) would have had to wait until they were old enough to move to Norway; 200 would have had to wait one year and 270 would have to wait two or three years.

It is assumed that proforma marriages sometimes take place in Norway. One example of this was in spring 2014 when there were allegations that a large number of men, particularly from visa countries, who previously had asylum applications and other applications to stay in Norway turned down, were contacting immigrant women from new EEA countries with the intention of marrying them to obtain a residence permit. Analysis of register data, however, shows that there are few marriages with this type o.

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