The number of people denied Norwegian citizenship has increased, as authorities rejected more people for lying about their identity or submitting fake papers. Almost 13,000 immigrants were granted citizenship last year, while 341 applications were knocked back.
“We have a strong focus on clarifying identity, particularly in relation to citizenship,” Karl Erik Sjøholt from the Immigration Department (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI) told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Now more people have been rejected than before. That does not necessarily mean more people are using false papers or have unclear identification, but the authorities have become better at spotting the problem.”
Sjøholt explained it’s difficult to say whether the increase in rejections also shows a clear increase in the number of applicants trying to cheat the system. “We know that some are using false documents,” he said. “It’s important we uncover that, and don’t give citizenship to those who shouldn’t have it.”
UDI warned people submitting forged papers are breaking the law, and run the risk of being deported or imprisoned. Last year 15 people had their Norwegian citizenship revoked, after they were found to have forged papers or lied about their background. Most had claimed to be from Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. “In cases where we have revoked citizenship, as a rule the person has given conflicting information,” said Sjøholt. “An example is that they’ve come with information regarding several different identities.”
Strict requirements necessary
The government supports the immigration authority’s tough stance on citizenship. Children, equality and social inclusion minister Solveig Horne from the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, FrP) told NRK she’s pleased the threshold for citizenship has been tightened in recent years.
“Stringent requirements for citizenship are good,” she said. “Those who give false information should not receive citizenship.” Horne said there’s a big focus on introduction courses for people who want to become Norwegian nationals, and on catching people who’ve applied with fake documents.