Reports 2020/31

From foreign to Norwegian citizenship through more than forty years

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The primary purpose of the project and the report was to thoroughly examine the data basis for the citizenship variable and to explore relevant issues related to this, including the proportion that acquire Norwegian citizenship.

The substantial misallocation of Norwegian citizenship that occurred in the National Register mainly in 1975, the measures implemented in 2012, and the consequences thereof, is discussed in several contexts.

The number of foreign nationals residing in Norway passed 30 000 in the mid-1960s, and there has been more than 500 000 since 2015.

Since the summer of 2015, dual citizenship has been registered in the National Register for those who have been allowed to retain their foreign citizenship when granted Norwegian citizenship. Of those who acquired Norwegian citizenship in the period 2016-2018, 71 per cent were able to keep their foreign citizenship.

Between the years 1967 and 2018, 1.44 million foreign nationals were added to the population of Norway. Ten per cent of these were born in Norway. Of these, 347 000 later acquired Norwegian citizenship. A total of 891 000 of the foreign nationals were resident in Norway at the end of 2018, and 315 000 of these had Norwegian citizenship.

Half of those who transfer to Norwegian citizenship do so before they have lived in Norway for eight years. Most people who become Norwegian make the transition within 20 years. However, in a few citizenship groups, such as Americans and Pakistanis, the period of residence is often longer.

The proportion of immigrants who eventually become Norwegian has varied greatly according to citizenship over the years. Among the nationals from the part of Europe that Norway has always had the most contact with, and North America and Oceania, the proportion has been very low. The percentage is somewhat higher when the calculation is based solely on those who are resident, but nevertheless remains below 50 per cent for a good many citizenship groups. Citizens from other parts of the world tend to acquire Norwegian citizenship.

There were several reasons for the unusually high number of people becoming Norwegian citizens in 2017, but the most important one must have been the decision to introduce stricter language requirements from 2017 onwards.

According to the National Register data, the number of stateless persons who have been in Norway is well over 20 000. Half of these were added to the population after 1968, most of them through immigration. After 3-4 years in Norway, half of those who are stateless have switched to Norwegian citizenship. For those who live in Norway as stateless at any given time, their short period of residence explains why they are not yet Norwegian.

Event history files were developed for this purpose. A residency event history file provides a fundamental basis for the citizenship event history file. Various available data have been used to create a history of citizenship for all persons in the National Register – well over 10 million people. Most of the analysis has been conducted on those who are or have been resident in Norway. The analysis data covers up to 15 May 2019. The coverage of people is good from 1960 onwards, but the coverage of events is inadequate for much of the 1960s. The dating of the events is uncertain until at least 1975.

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