Citizenship may soon hinge on tests

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Immigrants who want to become Norwegian citizens may soon be required to pass tests of the Norwegian language, Norwegian history, civics and values. The government wants citizens to prove they have basic knowledge of their adopted country.

Many countries administer citizenship tests. The US has required them for years and several European nations do as well. Iceland and Finland, for example, impose language tests while other countries such as Denmark, Great Britain and the Netherlands also test prospective citizens’ knowledge of culture, history and civics.

Norway’s left-center government, up for re-election in September, recently proposed tighter asylum rules and now thinks testing would be a good idea as well. Newspaper Aftenposten reports that the government minister in charge of labour and immigration, Dag Terje Andersen, has called for hearings on a proposal to require testing.

The goal, according to the proposal, is “to send a signal about the society’s expectations of new citizens,” raise awareness of what citizenship entails, and thereby contribute to a more “inclusive” community.

It remains unclear whether the tests would be both written and oral. Andersen did make it clear, however, that persons wishing to become Norwegian citizens must exhibit a basic knowledge of the language, Norwegian democracy, government, the election system, social values and even an overview of the country’s political parties and what they stand for.

Citizenship tests would be administered to all applicants aged 18 to 55. The tests would be given at no cost to the applicants and are not aimed at excluding many from becoming citizens, according to the proposal.