Dual citizenship put up for hearing

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The Norwegian government has moved forward with its proposal to do away with the country’s long-standing principle of only allowing single citizenship. It sent its proposal to finally allow dual citizenship in Norway out to hearing just before Christmas.

It will soon be easier to obtain or retain a Norwegian passport, if the government’s proposal to finally allow dual citizenship survives the hearing phase and wins support in Parliament. That’s likely, since both the two conservative government coalition parties already have support from some of the smaller centrist and opposition parties that will provide a majority. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The conservative government coalition’s change of heart on the issue, which has been debated for years, is not entirely in response to a more global society or the fact that Norway has remained one of the few countries in the world to not allow dual citizenship. Nor is it purely meant to address the dilemmas of couples and others who have found themselves forced to choose between Norwegian citizenship and their countries of birth or current residence.

Rather, stressed Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug, the government wants to make it easier to revoke Norwegian citizenship for those found breaking the law and facing deportation. Allowing dual citizenship, Listhaug said, “will make it easier to take Norwegian citizenship away from someone if that should become necessary.”

The government currently has been unable to deport criminal immigrants who became naturalized citizens of Norway and had to give up their prior citizenship. “Dual citizenship is a condition for revoking Norwegian citizenship in cases of terrorism or other crimes,” Listhaug said. Norwegian authorities currently cannot revoke citizenship for those with no other citizenship.

“That’s part of the background for the Justice Ministry’s proposal to open up for dual citizenship,” Listhaug said.

Benefits for Norwegians living abroad
She also noted that Norwegian citizens who have moved abroad will no longer have to give up their Norwegian citizenship if they seek citizenship in their countries of residence. That’s been a dilemma for many Norwegians who want to maintain their Norwegian citizenship while also becoming citizens where they actually live. In many cases, expat Norwegians abroad have had to become citizens of the countries where they live, in order, for example, to obtain public sector jobs. It’s been painful for many to give up their Norwegian passports.

They’ll now be able to get them back. Listhaug noted her ministry’s proposal includes a provision that will allow Norwegians who lost their citizenship because of the current “single-citizenship rule” to have their citizenship and passports reinstated. The provision won’t apply, however, to anyone convicted and sentenced to prison after they lost their Norwegian citizenship.

Benefits for expats in Norway, too
Expatriates in Norway who have qualified for permanent residence permission will now also be able to apply for Norwegian citizenship without having to give up their citizenship of birth. That will also allow them to finally vote in national elections and, according to the ministry’s hearing documents, make it easier to participate in the job market and feel more fully integrated into Norwegian socity.

Listhaug claimed that “a majority” of expats in Norway who apply for Norwegian citizenship already have been allowed to maintain their previous citizenship through various exceptions made to current law. “If you’re born Norwegian, though, your Norwegian citizenship is automatically lost if you become a citizen of another country,” Listhaug said. “I think that’s unreasonable.”

The deadline for hearing was set for March 20, after which the proposal is expected to be sent to Parliament and may be acted upon before the summer recess. It’s also expected to win majority support, since several centrist and opposition parties have publicly favoured dual citizenship, including the Liberals, the Greens and the Socialist Left (SV).

To read the full text of the government’s proposal, click here (external link to the ministry, in Norwegian).

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund