More Foreigners Become Norwegian

Aftenposten (Oslo), February 8, 2008

Some 14,400 people were given Norwegian citizenship in 2007, a huge leap from the year before, when just 11,000 became citizens.

Around 600 applicants were denied citizenship, says the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

“More and more asylum-seekers and immigrants who have lived in Norway for many years are choosing to become Norwegians,” said UDI director Ida Børresen.

“This signals that they want to contribute further to the development of a multi-cultural Norway, with the same rights and obligations as Norwegians have,” she said.

Much of the increase, however, was attributed to expanded capacity at the UDI to handle applications.

The largest group to gain citizenship was Iraqis (2,581), closely followed by Somalians (2,187). People from Afghanistan, Serbia, and Iran were also well-represented.

To become a citizen of Norway, you must:

* Have lived in Norway for at least seven of the past 10 years.

* Have undergone a minimum of 300 hours of Norwegian language lessons, or be able to document adequate Norwegian (or Samisk) language skills.

* Not have a criminal record or have been forcibly committed for mental health reasons.

* Be released from your original citizenship (if this is not automatic).

There are several exceptions to the law, for example for spouses of Norwegian citizens, in which case one must have lived in Norway for just three years (or two years for people from the Nordic countries).

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