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Norway: Parliament Votes in Favor of Dual Citizenship

(Feb. 6, 2019) On December 6, 2018, the Norwegian Parliament passed a bill that will allow Norwegians to hold dual citizenship. Specifically the amended Citizenship Act will allow Norwegian citizens to retain their citizenship if they apply for another, and let naturalized Norwegian citizens retain their previous citizenship(s). (Lovvedtak 17 (2018/19) [Legislative Enactment 17 (2018/19)], STORTINGET, Parliament website.) The new rules on citizenship are not projected to enter into force until at least 2020. (Dual Citizenship Will Be Allowed in Norway, UDI (Dec. 20, 2018).)

Current Rules on Citizenship

For a person to acquire Norwegian citizenship at birth, one of his or her parents must be Norwegian. The parents do not need to be married, and it is sufficient that the father was Norwegian at the time of his death in cases where the father dies prior to the birth of the child. (§ 2 Lov om norsk statsborgerskap (Statsborgerloven) [Citizenship Act] (LOV 2005-06-10-51), Lovdata website.)

Currently, Norwegian citizenship is lost if the Norwegian citizen actively applies for another citizenship. (Id. § 23.) Citizens, including children who obtain two or more citizenships at birth, also lose their citizenship if they have not lived for two years in Norway or seven years in another Nordic country by the time they are 22 years old. (Id. § 24.) The current rules on Norwegian citizenship do not require persons who acquired two citizenships at birth to renounce their Norwegian citizenship. (§§ 23 and 24 Citizenship Act e contrario; Dual Citizenship, UDI (last visited Feb. 5, 2019).)

Under current law, foreigners who wish to become naturalized Norwegians must relinquish their previous citizenship(s). (§ 10 Citizenship Act.) Thus, to acquire Norwegian citizenship, applicants for naturalization must prove that they have been released from their previous citizenships within a year of acquiring Norwegian citizenship. (Id. § 10.) Under the current rules the Norwegian state may grant an exemption in cases where it is impossible to prove that the citizenship has been relinquished or it otherwise would put too great a burden on individuals to prove that they have been released from citizenship. (Id. § 11.) For example, individuals who intend to renounce their prior citizenship but must travel to a country where a civil war is raging to do so may be exempt from the requirement on the basis of “unreasonably burdensome conditions.” (Release from Previous Citizenship, UDI (last visited Feb. 5, 2019).) Norwegians may also lose their citizenship if they have committed crimes punishable by more than six years in prison, provided that their crimes were committed after they had turned 18 years old. (§ 26 Citizenship Act.)

Under current rules former Norwegians may regain their Norwegian citizenship and are subject to shorter residency requirements preceding their citizenship application as compared to persons who have previously not been Norwegian citizens. (Id. § 15.)

New Rules on Dual Citizenship

The new rules will allow Norwegians to keep their Norwegian citizenship if they actively apply for another citizenship. (Lovvedtak 17 (2018/19).) In addition, the rules would not require an applicant for Norwegian citizenship to renounce any prior citizenship. (Id.)

Under the new rules Norwegian citizens born abroad will still have to reside for at least two years in Norway or seven years in a Nordic country before they turn 22 or their Norwegian citizenship would automatically be lost on their 22nd birthday. (Id. (provision not changed under the new rules).)

Persons who have previously renounced or lost their Norwegian citizenship because of the restrictive rules on dual citizenship may apply to recover their Norwegian citizenship. (Id. §§ 21 & 22a.) Persons with criminal records are ineligible to regain their Norwegian citizenship. (Id. § 22a.)

Dual Citizenships in the Nordic Countries

Once the new provisions on citizenship enters into force, Norway will be the last Nordic country to adopt the principle of dual nationality. Sweden recognized full dual citizenship as of 2001.  (Utlänningslag [Aliens Act] (SFS 2005:716) RIKSDAGEN, Parliament website.) Iceland and Finland have both recognized dual citizenship since 2003. (Icelandic Nationality Act (No. 100/1952), as amended, Government Offices of Iceland website; Medborgarskapslag [Citizenship Act] (FFS 2003/359), Finlex website.) Denmark changed its rules to allow for dual citizenship in 2015. (Elin Hofverberg, Denmark: Dual Citizenship Recognized, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 16, 2015).) Each Nordic state also has special provisions on citizens from other Nordic states acquiring citizenship that include shorter residency requirements. (See, e.g., § 13 [Norwegian] Citizenship Act, as in force 2018.)