Norway’s new immigration and asylum policies / News / The Foreigner

Norway’s new immigration and asylum policies. EXTENDED ARTICLE: The four Centre-Right Parties agree on ‘a necessary’ regulation of policies, they say. There are many changes. Agreement was reached in a week that saw postponed announcements, considerable differences of opinion, and a legal issue involving a senior rightist politician and drugs offences.A mixed benefit The 14-page deal is negotiated between current governing Parties the Conservatives (H), Progress (FrP), and their coalition partners the Christian Democrats (KrF), and Liberals (V).

norwayimmigration, integration, work, foreigners, asylumseekers



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Norway’s new immigration and asylum policies

Published on Saturday, 1st March, 2014 at 14:41 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 3rd March 2014 at 12:21.

EXTENDED ARTICLE: The four Centre-Right Parties agree on ‘a necessary’ regulation of policies, they say. There are many changes.

Norwegian border
Norwegian border
Photo: Hardo Müller/Flickr


Agreement was reached in a week that saw postponed announcements, considerable differences of opinion, and a legal issue involving a senior rightist politician and drugs offences.

A mixed benefit

The 14-page deal is negotiated between current governing Parties the Conservatives (H), Progress (FrP), and their coalition partners the Christian Democrats (KrF), and Liberals (V).

Citing a multi-cultural perspective, the introduction’s first two sentences are middle-of-the-road.

“Immigration is a source of diversity, new ideas and cultural exchange. Variation contributes to new thinking, innovation, and creativity,” it reads.

Next comes the interlude between start and getting down to business.

Working week
Working week
Ed Yourdon/Flickr
"While immigration has contributed to economic growth in Norway and made us a more diverse nation, we see challenges linked to immigration and integration. People migration puts the Norwegian society on trial, regardless of cause. Not least, this applies to the Norwegian welfare state’s sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate immigration.”

Refugees and asylum seekers receive only a brief mention here in comparison to those coming for work or marriage/formal partnership with a Norwegian national.

According to the agreement, Norway will “fulfil its international commitment” to help refugees.

The asylum system “must not be misused in any form,” it is an “extremely important tool to provide protection to people who are really threatened.”

Granting asylum will be subject to thorough application scrutiny and individual treatment, they say.

Positive words?

Back to immigration, the Parties talk of active contribution in the next paragraphs. Numbers of people coming to Norway for labour migration and/or family reunification are higher than for displaced persons.

Border mark on the Norway-Sweden border
Border mark on the Norway-Sweden border
Skogsfrun/Wikimedia Commons
“It is a benefit that migrant workers want to create a future in Norway. Knowledge, expertise, and diversity contribute to increased innovation and economic development. Labour immigration policy must provide opportunity for stay on the basis of work from countries also outside the EEA Area,” the agreement states. “In particular, it must be easier for businesses to attract highly-qualified labour from other countries.”

The generally positive tone continues, reiterating electioneering policies in part. Initial reactions to the bi-Partite coalition’s political platform after the election were not entirely positive.

“Everyone shall have the same rights and obligations in Norway, regardless of ethnic background. Placing demands on immigrants is to show them respect. It is also important to have a more proactive policy ensuring immigrants’ access to employment.”

Here is an extended summary of the agreement’s main points and qualifiers:

On the rights of asylum seeker minors and residency permits:

An assumption here is made that “parents generally have contributed to disclose their identity and helped to facilitate the return, but that return has not been possible.”

There have been several cases involving deportations and children in recent times. Factors listed here are:

  • Age.
  • Stability and continuity need.
  • Length of residency in Norway.
  • What kind of language the child speaks (former Progress leader Carl I. Hagen recently suggested denying children from foreign countries who do not speak Norwegian the right to watch children’s TV from there. He gained some support for this).
  • Health situation.
  • Friends and community relationship.
  • Care situation in Norway.
  • Parents' ability to provide care upon return.
  • Human rights situation upon return.

Closed asylum seeker reception centres:

Progress, who have suggested substandard jails for foreigners, have wanted to increase the number of these in Norway. The only current facility of this kind is Trandum, north of Oslo Gardermoen Airport. Foreigners without legal right to residency in Norway are detained there.

The quad-Partite agreement also contains the possibility of more differentiated types of asylum seeker reception centres. One is for asylum seekers given Norway residency approval but waiting for guaranteed housing in a municipality. The other type is for people and families declined final approval – defined as ‘return centres’ in this case.

“Some return centres should be able to accept foreigners (without legal residency rights) who receive custodial sentences,” states the deal. “Return centers will resemble ordinary reception centres in terms of standards, staffing, activity level and resident composition. The difference will be greater and continuous attention to return, while the integration perspective is no longer present.”

Trandum will be enlarged, and another 500-person ‘resource centre’ with higher security than regular ones established.

Based on current immigration legislation, foreigners can be arrested and detained there, the agreement states, if:

  • They do not cooperate in establishing their identity, or there is specific evidence to show they have wilfully given a false one.
  • There is specific evidence showing they will evade leaving the country when obliged – this also applies when they are to be deported for having committed, or there is a danger they will commit another crime.
  • Do not do what is required to obtain valid travel documents when obliged.
  • They are “in transit at a Norwegian airport” and they are to be deported.
  • It has been decided they are a threat to basic national interests and must be deported.

Fast-track courts for these offences are also under consideration before custodial sentences are imposed.

Altered deportation and sentence lengths:

Other points include:

  • More efficient case processing.
  • Quicker return of those without legal residency or criminals (legal rights ensured and the scheme evaluated).
  • Consider a current proposal for improved complaints procedures.
  • Work towards more bi-lateral return agreements.
  • Increased registration and use of biometric data.
  • Increase data retention length to 10 years (after asylum application processed).

Family reunification/establishing with foreign nationals:

  • Raise the amount either partner must prove they have/earn for financial subsistence from 246,136 to 297,900 kroner a year (pay scales as of 01st May 2013).
  • Designed to help avoid forced marriage and to see that the couple can support themselves.
  • More liberal discretion of judgment regarding earning capacity of the person living in Norway, or the incoming partner’s (based on foreigner’s or reference person’s actual income too).
  • Exceptions can be made in cases where “it is obvious” that either reunification or establishment “is not the result of force or that the couple is self-sufficient.”
  • Widened use of DNA testing in family reunification cases to establish identity.
  • Introduce an age-limit of 24 for family establishment for the same forced marriage/financial self-sufficiency reasons. Again, exceptions may apply.
  • Consider a ‘love visa’ (external link) system which does not require engagement/wedding plans.

Residency, Norwegian citizenship, and integration requirements:

  • Raise demand for residency length in Norway to qualify for permanent residence from three to five years (maintains Norwegian language tuition requirement).
  • Legislation change to allow asylum seekers and others without residency permission to work free for charitable organisations.
  • A minimum standard of spoken Norwegian in order to apply, as well as undergoing training for and passing a Norwegian society knowledge test. “Reasonable exceptions apply.”
  • Strengthen language tuition for women with a minority background.
  • Also meant to increase their possibilities of getting a job.
  • Free pre-school places are to be adapted, demand-wise, to suit tuition or participation in activities.
  • Assess and strengthen children’s Norwegian language proficiency before they start day care.
  • Faster system for assessing and approving foreign education and qualifications.

Pleased

“I think that the blend of these issues will reach people better, because they are more humane to people who have been here a long time, especially the children, while being slightly tougher on people who have committed criminal activity or those with unsubstantiated [asylum or immigration] applications,” says Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg in a statement.

Progress leader Siv Jensen declared “tighter asylum and immigration policies are an important issue for the Progress Party, and I'm obviously very pleased with the measures that we have now agreed.”

“All Parties have been given concessions, and all have had to give in on some points. Progress is very pleased about the entirety of this agreement,” she concludes.

The complete document can be read here (external link, in Norwegian).




Published on Saturday, 1st March, 2014 at 14:41 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 3rd March 2014 at 12:21.

This post has the following tags: norwayimmigration, integration, work, foreigners, asylumseekers.





  
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