Foreign nationals who intend to work in Norway may need to apply for a work permit. Generally, non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals need to apply for a permit to reside and work in Norway. Working in Norway illegally may result in reactions such as expulsion, prohibition from future entry, and registration in the Schengen Information System.
Residence permit for skilled workers
A residence permit for skilled workers is a type of permit that gives access to staying and working in Norway. The application for this type of permit must be filed with The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. Workers who need this permit should note that entering and/or working in Norway may be illegal before the permit has been granted.
The processing times for this resident permit may vary, so we recommend applying for the residence permit early.
A residence / work permit for skilled workers may be relevant for self-employed persons or employees. Below we will look at the requirements that employees must meet to qualify for a skilled worker’s permit.
Requirements an employee must meet to qualify for a skilled worker’s permit
Several requirements must be met to qualify for a skilled worker’s permit. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration will assess the application based on these requirements. If the requirements are not met, then the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration will likely refuse the application.
Requirement 1: An application fee must be paid
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration charges a fee to process some types of applications. Applications for a residence permit as a skilled worker are subject to a one-time fee of appr. NOK 6 300.
The fee will be charged at the time of registering the application. Paying this fee does not guarantee that the application will be granted. Thus, having to file the application several times due mistakes in the application process may become expensive.
In some cases, additional fees can be accrued.
Requirement 2: The worker must be “skilled”
It may go without saying, but a permit for skilled workers requires the applicant to be skilled. To be considered skilled the applicant should at least have completed education or a degree from a university or a university college such as a bachelor’s degree. However, a completed vocational training programme of at least three years at upper secondary school level may be enough if there is a corresponding vocational training programme in Norway.
As an alternative or supplement to a formal education, the applicant may be considered “skilled” if he/she has special qualifications obtained through long work experience. However, the applicant needs to prove the qualifications. Norwegian immigration authorities will apply strict criteria to determine if the special qualifications make the applicant “skilled”. Thus, the chance of having an application granted based on special qualifications alone is low for most applicants.
Requirement 3: The worker must have a qualifying job offer in Norway
The applicant must have received a concrete job offer from one specific employer in Norway. The job should be full-time, but Norwegian immigration authorities may accept an 80 percent position.
The job you are offered must require qualifications as a skilled worker, and the applicant must have the qualifications that the job requires. This means that the applicant’s qualifications must be deemed relevant to the position. This in turn means that the nature of the job offered must be such that a skilled worker is required.
Additionally, the pay and working conditions must not be poorer than is normal in Norway. If the work will be performed in an industry in which a collective agreement applies, then the applicant must be paid the collective wage rate. If no collective agreement applies, then the pay cannot be poorer than what is normal for someone in the same occupation and place as the applicant will be working.
If the position requires a master's degree, then the general minimum salary is NOK 428 200 per year pre-tax. If the position requires a bachelor's degree, then the general minimum salary is NOK 397 100 per year pre-tax. A lower salary may be permitted if the applicant can prove that a lower salary is normal for the occupation at the place where the work will be carried out.
Requirement 4: The special requirements must be met
In some cases, special requirements must be met. In occupations where qualification requirements are set out in law or in regulations, approval or authorisation must be obtained from the relevant professional authority prior to applying for a permit in Norway.
For instance, an electrician must get approval/recognition from The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) to carry out the profession and use the professional title in Norway. Likewise, a dentist needs approval/recognition from The Norwegian Directorate of Health.
Filing an application properly
Filing an application for a skilled worker permit may be a tedious task. The applicant must be able to prove that all the requirements are met. Furthermore, the applicant must first register the application electronically, and then meet at a service desk or an embassy to hand over documents for the application. It is important that all documents are present when filing the application, and that the proper procedure is followed.
If anything is missing or done incorrectly, Norwegian immigration authorities may refuse the application. Applicants who do not want to risk this, may authorise a person such as a lawyer to assist with collecting all relevant documents and handing them over.
Also read: ID control for foreign employees in Norway
Rights and restrictions after the application has been granted
If a permit is granted, the permit is valid for 1-3 years. A permit can generally be renewed. Any application for renewal should be filed at least 1 month prior to expiration of the permit. After three years of holding a valid skilled worker permit the applicant can apply for a permanent residence permit in Norway.
Generally, the applicant’s family can come and live with the applicant in Norway, but they need to file an application for family immigration before moving to Norway.
An applicant who wants to change employer is normally allowed to do this without applying for a new permit. If the applicant wants to change position, however, he normally needs to apply for a new permit prior to starting in a new position.
If the applicant loses his/her job, he must notify the police within seven days. Normally in such a situation, the applicant can stay in Norway for up to six months to look for a new job.
- Foreigners who want to work in Norway should check whether a residence / work permit is required prior to entering Norway. A skilled worker’s permit may be relevant for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals.
- To qualify for a skilled worker’s permit, an application fee must be paid, the worker must be “skilled”, and the worker must have a qualifying job offer in Norway. Special requirements may apply in some cases.
- Applying for a skilled worker’s permit requires extensive paperwork, and a meeting to hand over documents. The applicant may authorise a person such as a lawyer to assist with this.
- A skilled worker permit can be renewed, and after three years the applicant can apply for a permanent residence permit in Norway. The applicant’s family can come and live with the applicant. If the applicant changes position or the employment ends, then the applicant may need to apply for a new permit.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions related to work permits in Norway for skilled workers:
For more information about how we can assist you, please see our website: Work in Norway
Article first published June 2019, udated November 2020.