Philippines leads permit statistics

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The largest group of non-European foreigners obtaining long-term residence and work permits in Norway last year came from the Philippines, according to new statistics from immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet). Most of them were young women arriving in Norway to work as au pairs in Norwegian homes.

More than 30,000 non-Norwegians were granted residence permission in Norway in 2011, including nearly 3,400 persons from the Philippines who applied for permits to study, work or be reunited with family members.

Arrivals tripled since 2006
UDI granted 1,829 au pair permits last year and 80 percent went to persons from the Philippines. That’s nearly triple the number of Filipinas and Filipinos receiving such permits just six years ago, when 587 persons from the Philippines came to Norway to work as au pairs.

The influx of au pairs from the Philippines made them the largest single group of immigrants after those from various European countries who no longer need to apply for residence or work permission. Of those, persons from Poland and Sweden have recently made up the biggest share of immigrants coming to Norway to work.

“There’s been a trend the last 10 years where the share of au pairs from the Philippines has increased,” Cecilie Øien of social and labour research organization Fafo told newspaper Dagsavisen. “Folks want au pairs from the Philippines because they’re known for being good workers, clever and reliable and able to give host families the help they need.”

Relatives take over
Øien has questioned whether the au pairs are getting the cultural exchange the program is supposed to offer, or whether they’re mostly serving as economical household help. Most are allowed to live and work in Norway for two years, and often are succeeded by relatives who come to work for the same family.

“Cousins and sisters from the Philippines often take over when the two-year period is over,” Øien said.

The next largest non-European immigrant group after those from the Philippines came from Somalia last year, at just over 2,500, followed by immigrants from Eritrea (2,013), India (1,754), Russia (1,625), Romania (1,493) and the US (1,455). Next came 1,410 immigrants from China, 1,373 from Thailand, 1,149 from Ukraine and 1,063 from Vietnam.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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