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Emigrating to Norway: Immigration, visa and living costs

Norway is coveted for its picturesque landscapes, high quality of life, rich heritage, fjords and of course, the aurora borealis, or northern lights which has been described as a celestial ballet of light dancing across the night sky.

Thousands of foreigners travel to Norway every year to experience all the country has to offer, with urban areas such as Oslo providing the cosmopolitan lifestyle and smaller cities such as Tromso pairing the best of city life with outdoor adventure.

Boasting a highly developed economy, low inequality and a comprehensive public health care system – Norway is renowned for building a system that puts the people of the country first.

Often hailed “the most liveable place on earth”, it is no wonder so many people look to Norway, or The Land of Midnight Sun, to start the next chapter of their lives.

Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, if it’s in your plans to immigrate to Norway, you can still fulfil this long-held dream! However, if you’re not a national of an EU or EEA member country, you will have to obtain a visa to stay in the country for an extended period of time.

No matter the reason for your application, whether that be to work in Norway, study or retire, the immigration process can be complicated.

Please read our complete guide on immigrating to Norway, which will walk you through how to obtain a visa, the pros and cons of life in Norway and how best to manage your finances to avoid exposure to unnecessary costs.

Norweigan immigration: Obtaining a work visa

Although Norway has notoriously high taxes and consumer prices, the countries high standard of living draws people in from far and wide.

According to the latest statistics, approximately 765,000 immigrants were living in Norway last year, with one in three people residing in Oslo, an immigrant, or born to foreign parents.

One-third of people travelling to Norway do so for work opportunities, as the country’s burgeoning financial and energy sector is a rising magnet for foreign talent.

The Norwegian government also encourages new business start-ups, and it is believed that more than 30,000 new businesses are registered in the country each year, making it an attractive destination for investors and the self-employed.

Citizens of the European Union, EEA and Schengen Area can travel, live and work in Norway visa-free. However, third-country nationals will need to apply for a Norwegian work visa and a residence permit, which you can do online at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

While there are several different types of Norwegian work visas, one of the most popular pathways is the Skilled Workers’ scheme. To obtain this visa, your employer must sponsor your application, and you must also prove the following:

  • You have the relevant qualifications to carry out your employers work, e.g. completed a vocational training programme of at least three years, or possess an undergraduate degree in a related field
  • Have full-time employment, or at least 80% of standard working hours
  • Hold a valid passport
  • Complete a visa application form
  • Produce two recent passport photographs
  • Provide evidence of your residency in Norway

All documentation must be presented in English or Norwegian; otherwise, you will need to source a translator who can convert and certify your documents.

After living in Norway for three years, you may apply for a permanent residence permit, which will allow you to reside and work in Norway indefinitely.

If you plan to stay in Norway for less than three months, you may not need to obtain a visa; however, we advise checking the Immigration Authority’s website for further details.

No matter the path you decide to take to obtain long-term stay in Norway, all visas and permits come at a cost.

Residence permits for work will set you back NOK 6,300 (GBP 525), while study permits for those aged 18 and over cost NOK 4,900 (GBP 408), and you are likely to incur additional application processing fees. Permanent residency in Norway costs NOK 4,700 (GBP 392), while citizenship applications fetch a price of NOK 3,700 (GBP 308).

If you’re not prepared to renounce your original nationality, you’ll be glad to know that Norway authorised dual citizenship on January 1st 2020.

However, splitting your life and income between two countries can be expensive, and the exchange rate valuation environment has been made even more challenging due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Suppose you need to make regular international money transfers. In that case, you might want to consider using a foreign exchange specialist such as Halo Financial, who can protect your funds against fluctuating exchange rates.

Maximise your funds by using a Forex specialist

Most people tend to believe that banks are the answer to fulfilling international currency transfers; however, they tend to levy hidden costs and fees in the exchange rate.

FX specialists such as Halo Financial, are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), can access the interbank rate and offer you a competitive advantage to ensure you maximise your currency transfers.

Halo Financial provides clients with a tailored service and offers several currency options to provide unlimited upside potential and mitigate against fluctuating exchange rates.

Also, as foreign exchange isn’t the banks’ area of specialism, few employ FX specialists who can provide invaluable insight into the currency market landscape or their clients’ currency transfers.

Halo Financial keeps costs and rates competitive so that we may pass the reduction rate onto our clients. We also assign each of our clients a dedicated account manager, who will provide invaluable market guidance into your foreign exchange transfers.

Whether you’re an expat already living in Norway, it’s in your plans to retire, emigrate with family or move for work, with Halo’s level of support you could save more on your overall costs.

Pros and cons of Norway

Living in Norway: The pros and cons

According to Numbeo, the overall cost of living in Norway is significantly higher than in the UK. Average consumer prices in Norway are approximately 30% higher than in the UK, while grocery prices are higher by a staggering 42% and restaurant prices are higher by 26%.

However, in Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey, London ranked 19th in the world for the most expensive city to live in, whereas Norway’s capital, Oslo, placed much lower in 76th place.

Despite Norway’s notoriously high cost of living; its high salaries, universal public healthcare system, world-class educational institutions, excellent quality of life and peaceful society makes the high taxes and consumer prices worth the expense.

The country also measures favourably compared to most other nations in the OECD’s Better Life Index. According to the OECD, Norway ranks first place for personal security and above average for income and wealth, environmental standards, jobs and wages, education and skills, housing, work-life balance, and health.

While the language barrier may seem like a con, most Norwegians speak English fluently, albeit we advise taking time to learn some basic phrases.

Popular Norwegian cities

If you’re mulling over what city to reside in when you move to Norway, Oslo offers the perfect combination of urban life and untouched nature!

Known as the city of museums, the capital city of Norway boasts a rich cultural scene and is the country’s hub for trade, banking, industry and shipping.

Oslo also boasts a hugely diverse culinary scene and a growing nightlife, making it a prime destination for expats looking for adventure and the cosmopolitan lifestyle.

While Oslo is more expensive than other metropolitan cities, those of you relocating to Norway from New York or London will be glad to know that rent prices in Oslo are significantly lower.

Trondheim

Norway’s oldest and third-largest city, Trondheim offers a more relaxed pace of life than Oslo. Famed for its wooden buildings, ecclesiastical history, and world-leading science and technological research – it’s a youthful and historical town.

Expats won’t run out of things to do in Trondheim – stroll through the charming Bakklandet quarter, ride the quaint sightseeing streetcars, or visit the famous Nidaros Cathedral and the famous Lokken Copper Mines.

Low crime rate

The crime rate in Norway is notably low compared to the United States and Western Europe, which makes it an ideal location for those immigrating with their family.

According to NationMaster, the crime levels in the UK are 40% higher than in Norway, while the crime rate in the United States is significantly higher, by 87%.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) reported that the risk of crime in Norway is minimal.

World-ranking education system

Foreigners considering moving to Norway with family, or with plans to start a family in the country should note that Norway boasts one the best education systems in the world.

School is mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 16, beyond this age education is a statutory right, albeit many choose to go onto further education.

Education is free for all children in Norway, even non-residents as the country prides itself on a system that offers equal and unified opportunities for all. While there are international schools and private schools available, most parents tend to send children to state schools.

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