Immigration Directorate (UDI) officials update their over six year old page in the latest effort to eradicate differences of interpretation in the ongoing Australian-Norwegian dual nationality campaign.
Their move comes some five days after 40-year-old Norwegian mother of three Nina Sivertsen and her husband Greg Considine’s story broke.
Could affect thousands
All three children had Norwegian citizenship until the UDI revoked the twins’. This came as a result of their parents applying to renew their passports for a third time following a planned move to Norway.
Nina Sivertsen and her twins thus became ineligible to reside in the Scandinavian country for a longer period than that of a three-month visa – her first-born, Milla, retains her dual nationality because she was born to a Norwegian citizen abroad.
Applications under the so-called ‘family reunification’ rules did not apply either, as she could not prove she earned enough income to support them all. According to her, she had no job in Norway at the time as she was completing her studies.
“The UDI's solution and advice given to me [was that]: I can move to Norway with my 6-year-old daughter [Milla], and live and work for one year in Norway so that I fulfill all criteria for an approved family reunion, then I can apply and have the twins come from Australia,” she said.
She added that they can “reapply for them to become Norwegian citizens when they are 12, but will have to renounce the Australian citizenship in that case.”
Several hundred Australian, Norwegian, and people of other interested nationalities subsequently started a Facebook campaign to pressure officials to clarify and/or modify the regulations.
There are also fears the procedures the UDI is adhering to – which are based in current immigration legislation – could also affect many more mixed nationality couples and families living in Norway.
Geir Terje Eigestad is a Norwegian subsurface expert working in the oil and gas industry. His wife is Australian, and he is classified as a dual resident of Norway and Australia.
He wonders if his second Norway-born daughter has been living in Norway without legally being Norwegian.
“I only found out yesterday that my first is a dual national due to the laws in place in 2005 when she was born, but my youngest was born in 2007 after legislation was supposedly changed,” he tells The Foreigner.
Up until yesterday, Wednesday, the UDI ‘Loss of Norwegian citizenship by new citizenship’ webpage's rather long legalese read differently.
“If you obtain citizenship in another country, you will automatically lose your Norwegian citizenship. This applies if you have applied for this citizenship, or have explicitly confirmed that you accept the citizenship, for example where citizenship is acquired by notification.”
“A child [under 18] who acquires another citizenship by application or explicit consent shall lose his or her Norwegian citizenship where the parents jointly or the parent who has sole parental responsibility, have or has lodged the application or given the consent.”
Exemptions were also listed. People automatically being granted citizenship of another country would not lose their Norwegian one if this did not occur “by application, notification, or having explicitly confirmed that you will become a citizen of another country”.
The next section, still listed under the ‘exemptions’ heading, dealt with what the UDI terms “children’s loss in the case of automatic acquisition of citizenship as secondary persons.”
It applied to those under 18 who are neither married nor a registered partner, and acquiring another citizenship because his/her parent acquired this other citizenship.
The wording said “the child’s citizenship is not acquired by application or explicit consent. Whether the child acquires the citizenship automatically is defined in the legislation of the country.”
Children who are neither registered partners nor married automatically lose their Norwegian citizenship where “the parent has parental responsibility and the other parent is not a Norwegian citizen.”
Passing the buck?
The new version is much shorter. Loss of Norwegian citizenship still occurs if people have applied for, confirmed acceptance of the new one – again, for example, where citizenship is acquired by notification. It also applies to under 18s.
The children as secondary persons citizenship section now reads that under 18s “will lose Norwegian citizenship in the case of automatic acquisition of citizenship if he or she is not married or a registered partner acquires another citizenship because a parent with parental responsibility acquires another citizenship, and the other parent is not a Norwegian citizen.”
Again, officials say automatic acquisition of another country’s citizenship is dependent on its legislation.
“UDI emphasizes that it is of great importance to be familiar with the rules concerning loss of citizenship I Norway before you apply, notify or register yourself or your child as a citizen of another country than Norway,” they write in bold.
“This is your responsibility. The loss occurs automatically, based on the regulations in Norway and the country of which you and/or your child becomes a citizen.”
Ripe for change
Politicians from two of Norway’s seven main political Parties – the Socialist Left (SV) and Liberals (V) – have also taken note of the ongoing issue.
Aksel Hagen, Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration, thinks a modernisation of Norway’s rules on dual nationality is overdue.
What are your views on the current rules and how the UDI is interpreting them?
“It is first and foremost our current rules that are the problem, not how the UDI is interpreting them. I assume and believe they do their best,” he tells The Foreigner in an email.
“The main rule is that dual citizenship is currently not permitted. However, SV wants to open for this. We believe it is an important step towards a more open and inclusive society where many of us are related to several countries and cultures."
Mr Hagen calls current approaches to citizenship “outdated”.
“For me it's about understanding modern, open societies, not to mention discover citizenship as a proactive, positive integration tool. I’m convinced we’ll win in a few years. Reason is on our side,” he says.
The Foreigner is still waiting for answers to questions about the ongoing dual nationality issue from the Ministry of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion.