Posted on January 13, 2006

Alarm Raised Over the Dumping of Foreign Wives

Aftenposten (Oslo), Jan. 10, 2006

Increasing numbers of foreign women are being dumped by their Norwegian husbands before they become eligible for permanent residency. That often means the women get sent out of the country, or have already left and can’t return.

In Pakistan, the situation has become so dramatic that the Norwegian embassy in Islamabad has sent a warning to Norwegian authorities back home.

The warning noted that embassy officials have been contacted by more and more women who view themselves as being dumped in Pakistan, after having married an ethnic Pakistani man with Norwegian residence. Newspaper VG referred to parts of the warning in Tuesday’s edition.

Exploiting a three-year requirement

The men with Norwegian citizenship or permanent Norwegian residency are able to take advantage of Norway’s immigration rules. They require that foreigners, both men and women alike, be legally resident in Norway for a minimum of three years before permanent residency (the equivalency of a “green card” in the US) can be granted.

In practice, that means foreigners arriving in Norway with a Norwegian spouse can be granted temporary residence permission (oppholdstillatelse) and even working permission (arbeidstillatelse) almost automatically. But permanent residency permission, also known as a settlement permit (bosettningstillatelse), won’t be granted unless the foreigner continues to satisfy requirements after three years.

If, for example, the Norwegian spouse ends the marriage within three years, the foreign spouse can be denied permanent residency, because the Norwegian authorities can insist the applicant no longer has a reason to be in Norway. The Norwegian spouse can, in a way, get the authorities to literally get rid of the former foreign spouse.

Tove Smaadahl of a Norwegian crisis center group (Krisesentersekretariatet) said the exploitation of women is a global problem, and that it shouldn’t be only associated with non-ethnic Norwegians who dump wives back in Pakistan, for example.

“Both Norwegian and foreign men dump women before the three years are up,” she said. “These women must receive residence permission, and help.”