Population;Immigration and immigrants
innvgrunn, Immigrants by reason for immigration, reason for immigration (for example work, refugee, family reunification), refugees, immigration background, non-Nordic citizens, country background, year of immigration, principal applicants, resettlement refugees, quota refugees, asylum cases, asylum seekers, family reunification, marriage establishmentPopulation, Immigrants , Immigration and immigrants, Population

Immigrants by reason for immigration


Next update

Not yet determined

Key figures

15 200

new immigrants with refuge as reason for immigration in 2016

Immigrants by reason for immigration
2016Change in per centTotal immigration since 1990
2015 - 20162006 - 2016
Total50 4902.370.4788 531
Labour14 372-20.622.0262 669
Family16 465-1.545.1283 478
Refuge15 19063.7380.8156 590
Education4 147-16.4128.180 956
Other30822.7180.04 079

See more tables on this subject

Table 1 
Immigrants by reason for immigration and first citizenship

Immigrants by reason for immigration and first citizenship
Total50 49014 37216 46515 1904 147308
Europe except Turkey20 19912 6735 806161 509194
Africa5 5131282 5942 49724350
Asia including Turkey21 8081 0126 57912 1891 99529
North America1 009352412022421
South- and Central-America87711960031476

About the statistics

The statistics show reasons for immigration for first time immigrants with non- Nordic citizenship for one year.


Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Resident: Who is regarded as a resident of Norway and where in Norway a person shall be counted as a resident, is stipulated in the Population Registration Act of 16 January 1970. The regulations to the act were last amended effective 1 October 1998.

Immigration: Event defined in the Population Register, and presented in Statistics Norway’s migration statistics.

First time immigration: First immigration to Norway performed by a foreign born.

Year of immigration: The official date of immigration in the Population Register is the date of registration, which is the date the person concerned comes to the local population registry with his documents (including the residence permit if the person is a non-Nordic citizen).

In statistics on reasons for immigration the year of immigration is taken directly from the date of registration, and not from the reference year in the published migration statistics. In case of so-called delayed notifications the reference year may be a later year than the year of registration.

Reason for immigration: The reason for the first immigration, according to the information registered in the registers of the immigration authorities and otherwise as it is possible to derive from various relevant register variables.

Persons with refugee background refers to people with refugee as reason for immigration, as well as immigrants with family as reason for immigration who are reunited with a person with reason refugee.

The variable is produced in Statistics Norway for demographic use, and does not directly reflect the slightly more legal oriented registrations of the immigration authorities. All first time immigrants with a non-Nordic citizenship who immigrated after 1989 have been assigned one of the main values Refugee, Family, Labour, Training and Other. Most of them are registered with a more specified reason for immigration. In most cases, these values reflect the values of the variable reason for decision in UDB. In case this variable does not hold any value, other UDB variables or population registration data are used.

In connection with reason for immigration the term refugee means immigrated for refugee reasons , and is not limited to e.g. Convention refugees only.

In the immigration management of today, there is a principle that all immigrants should have a decision, even if they are children without any independent reason for immigration. In such cases, children get the same value as their parents. In the actual variable for reason of immigration, however, the values Labour, Training and Family-Marriage assigned to children have been replaced by Family.

Type of family unification: The variable specifies all family immigrations, distinguishing between reunification, accompanying person and formation/extension data. The classification is mainly based on assessments of dates of immigration and marriage (when relevant) of both the immigrant and the reference person, and on registrations of that variable in the UDB data.

Asylum seekers refers to asylum cases or residence on humanitarian grounds.

Resettlement refugees refers to refugees who are permitted to come to Norway following an organised selection, normally in conjuction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In accordance with a proposal from the government, the parliament sets an annual quota for the number of resettlement refugees to be received by Norway.

"Other refugees" : refers to refugees with families from mainly Bosnia and Herzegovina who have been granted a collective assesment.  


Immigrants and Norwegian born to immigrant parents


Standard classifications

A standard classification of reasons for immigration was prepared for the 1995 publishing. The classification of the variable reason for decision in UDB is based on this standard. However, there are more values in the UDB version, and some aspects are singled out in separate variables. The code set is different, too. The classification that has been used so far in Statistics Norway's data is a slightly adjusted version of the original UDB variable.

For other classifications, see the list of statistics in chapter 4.1.

Administrative information

Name and topic

Name: Immigrants by reason for immigration
Topic: Population

Responsible division

Division for Population Statistics

Regional level

The base data are on person level and can technically be distributed on all regional levels. Confidential considerations determine the regional level to be used in each case.

Frequency and timeliness


International reporting

Statistics on reasons for immigration are required by international statistics organisations such as Eurostat, the UNECE and the OECD.


Main files on individual level will be stored, as well as some intermediate files (that could be of interest for special products) after each update.


Background and purpose

The main purpose of the statistics is to provide an overview of the most important reasons for persons to migrate to Norway. In addition, the data can be used to classify a part of the foreign-born population by original reason for immigration.

The first statistics were published on 10 March 1995 (Ukens statistikk nr. 10, 1995), comprising first- time immigrations in the period 1990-93. The statistics were continued only as statistics on refugees until 30 November 2006.

The statistics on persons with a refugee background were published for the first time in 1999 as Dagens statistikk (Daily Statistics), Refugees 1 January 1998. It is not meant to replace the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration's statistics on decisions and legal grounds. The figures are not necessarily in agreement with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration's statistics on decisions and legal grounds.

Users and applications

The general public, general government, research institutes and the media.

Equal treatment of users

Not relevant

Coherence with other statistics

The population consists of foreign-born non-Nordic citizens registered as resident in Norway in the Norwegian Population Register for the first time in 1990 or later.

This population is part of the immigration and emigration statistics as well as the statistics on foreign-born. However, the population has not been treated as a separate group or marked in any way in those statistics.

Refugee as a reason for immigration deviates from the definition of refugee used in the refugee statistics in two ways: Firstly, only people with "refugee" as the main reason is assigned this reason for immigration. People who reunite with refugees are therefore not included, as they are (for the time being) in the statistics on refugees. The other difference is that the variable reason for immigration does not take into consideration that some people become a refugee after the first immigration.

Legal authority

§§ 2-1, 2-2, 3-2.

EEA reference

Not relevant



Data on refugee as reason for immigration: Foreign-born registered in the Population Register (i.e. all persons that are or have been resident in Norway since 1 October 1964, and/or was included in the 1960 Population and Housing Census (as of 1 November 1960)).

Data on the other reasons for immigration: Foreign-born that immigrated to Norway for the first time in 1990 or later, as non-Nordic citizens.

In the published tables there is an extra requirement for the limitation of the population. The persons in question have to be immigrants (i.e. born abroad to foreign-born parents).

Data sources and sampling

The most important data sources are the Central Population Register (CPR) in the Directorate of Taxes, and the Aliens Register (Utlendingsdatabasen –UDB) in the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.

The CPR is the most important data source in Statistics Norway's population statistics system. In addition, data from the 1960 and 1970 population censuses are included as a supplement. The same applies to older statistical files which originate from population register data. The definition of first-time immigrations is based on CPR data alone.

In 2004, UDB replaced the Fremkon register (the old Aliens register) and the Refugee Register. Central information from these two registers were adapted to new standards and included in UDB. As a result, UDB now contains data going back to 1991, several years before UDB was introduced in the handling of cases.

The single most important variable in UDB for the statistics is reason for decision . If the information on that variable is missing, other similar variables are used.

An important supplementary source is the 2004 edition of the file for reason for immigration produced in 1995 and updated by use of data from the Refugee Register. It covers the persons that do not have satisfying information in UDB.

The population register data have been processed. The new focus in the processing leading to reason for immigration is the task to achieve the best linkage possible between the ID number in UDB and Personal Identification Number, and subsequently to find the first reason for immigration for as many foreign-born as possible.

The process of obtaining a linkage between the two ID number series is based on links that are found both in UDB and CPR. These links are controlled, linked and compared, and improved considerably. The result is a common definition of the persons in the two input data sets.

When this task is accomplished, the next step is to find the information in UDB that, as best as possible, states the reason for the first immigration event registered in the CPR.

One challenge in this connection is that most persons are registered with several cases (even if most of them are just renewals), and that the information may differ from case to case. In many cases the most specific information is found on some of the later cases registered on a person. For some persons this comprehensive information is copied to the former cases.

Another challenge is to identify the case which most probably is related to the first immigration registered in the CPR. There are no variables in UDB that make it possible to pick out the most relevant case in all cases.

The main principle is that the reason for immigration is taken from the last registration before the immigration was registered in the CPR, but there are exceptions if the actual case does not provide sufficient and reliable information. In these cases other registrations or sources are used as indication of the reason for immigration.

One of these supplementary sources is the file of reason for immigration produced in 2006. That year the task was resolved by finding the most relevant case for each of the main reasons, and then make a choice between these reasons (for persons with more than one main reason). The choice was based on the main reason which is seen as the most reliable in each case. In reality, the reason for immigration refugee was chosen before the others.

In case of missing source of reason for immigration imputations are made, based on variables like citizenship and age at the immigration. In general, there is a greater need for imputations in the older data (from the beginning of the 1990s and earlier) than in data registered in the new UDB system (started in 2004).

In this process, some children without their own reason for immigration get a value from their parents.

The problems with varying reliability may have the effect that some persons are allocated e.g. Refugee as the reason for immigration in stead of Family, as would have been the result if the registrations had been more complete.

The next challenge is to identify the most probable reference in Norway (the "resident person") in family immigration cases. If this reference is not stated in the UDB data, CPR information on relationships is used to find the spouse, children, parents or siblings that possibly may have been the reference at the first immigration. In this process spouse takes precedence over the other categories. The method identifies persons that may have been the reference for foreign-born. However, the method does not guarantee that the identified person actually and legally was the reference.

The construction of a variable called "type of family unification" (distinguishing between reunification, accompanying person and formation/extension) also causes several challenges, both concerning missing data and conceptual difficulties. The classification is mainly based on assessments of dates of immigration and marriage (when relevant) of both the immigrant and the reference person, and on registrations of that variable in the UDB data. The determination of limit values used in the classification is based on assessments.

Since 2014, immigrations with delayed information to the UDI are included in the statistics. Historical figures might differ slightly due to the new practice.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Controls and revisions are carried out at all stages of the processing.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


The main rule is that figures cannot be published if the content of one cell is based on less than three units, as this results in the risk of identification.

Comparability over time and space

It is difficult to achieve comparability between countries, since no countries have fully comparable statistics. However, the statistics from Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands do have certain similarities with the Norwegian.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

There is a considerable amount of uncertainty related both to the input data and the processing in Statistics Norway.

The processing includes imputations and decisions which may be debatable. New information in the future may lead to the correction of errors made on an earlier occasion.

Any measuring and processing errors are not expected to have any severe impact on the main results, but may be visible on lower levels.

Errors and uncertainties are more common in the oldest data (especially in 1990).

Nordic citizens do not need a residence permit, and hence they are not registered in UDB. There are not enough supplementary data available to allocate a reason for immigration to all Nordic citizens. Norwegian citizens are partly in the same situation, and therefore not included.


Not relevant


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