Immigration agency gets new boss

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The new head of the state agency that can decide the fate of foreigners in Norway is a 14-year veteran who started out as information chief at UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet). Now Frode Forfang is stressing the need for better information service from UDI again.

Justice Minister Grete Faremo congratulating Frode Forfang on his new appointment as head of immigration agency UDI. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Given some recent confusion over the implementation of new cards to verify permanent residence in Norway, and ongoing complaints over poor communication from UDI during the immigration process, Forfang’s perceived need for improvement should be well-received.

Forgang told reporters when he was named director of UDI on Friday that it still takes too long for UDI to process prospective immigrants’ applications for residence in Norway, and that communication with UDI’s users is not good enough. These are the areas he wants to boost, and he knows it won’t be easy.

Forfang has served as acting director of UDI since his predecessor Ida Børresen was tapped to be director of the Norwegian Parliament. He’s considered a “safe choice” by Justice Minister Grete Faremo, whom newspaper Aftenposten claimed opted for the non-controversial Forfang over the renewal that might have come if Forfang’s main rival for the job, Terje Sjeggestad, had been chosen. Forfang is a professional manager, though, with long experience within the agency.

After joining UDI in 1998 as information director he rose to be departmental director for professional strategy and coordination. He was named assistant director of UDI in 2007 and acting director earlier this year.

Before that the 53-year-old Forfang was a state secretary for foreign aid at the Foreign Ministry and responsible for information at the EU Commission’s Oslo delegation.

Forgang holds a Master’s degree in political science from the London School of Economics and Political Science and takes over his new post immediately.

Faremo made another important appointment late last week, naming Hans Sverre Sjøvold to take over as Oslo’s new police chief. Sjøvold, age 55, has been dean of the Norwegian police academy, is a former police chief in Vestfold County and most recently has been a top official in the Justice Ministry’s efforts to boost preparedness.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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