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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Liberals support dual citizenship

Norway’s Liberal Party (Venstre), one of the government’s two support parties in Parliament, wants to make it easier for foreigners who have settled in Norway to become Norwegian citizens while retaining their original citizenship. Dual citizenship would also be welcomed by native Norwegians who were forced to give up their Norwegian passports when they settled abroad.

Passport and identity theft has rapidly increased in Norway, but police and politicians have been criticized for failing to tackle identity fraud. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no
Many long-term expatriates in Norway would like one of these, to feel fully included in Norwegian society, but haven’t been willing to give up their passport of birth in order to get one. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

At present, only random exceptions are made for long-term residents of Norway who’ve been reluctant to give up their passports from, for example, the US or Canada. According to state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway), immigrants from North America figure highly among expatriates who have never become Norwegian citizens, despite living for many years in the country, because of Norway’s ban on dual citizenship.

The ban has recently become more controversial, because of globalization and those who view the ban on dual citizenship as a hindrance to integration. Norway is among the few countries in Europe with a ban, and it’s practised erratically.

Now the small but relatively powerful Liberal Party plans to propose allowing dual citizenship. Sveinung Rotevatn, a Member of Parliament for the Liberals from the county of Sogn og Fjordane, thinks the current rule that people should only have one country of citizenship has become old-fashioned. Norwegian Professor Torill Moe, herself a longtime resident of the US, has called the ban on dual citizenship “anachronistic.” She wrote in newspaper Morgenbladet earlier this year that “people don’t emigrate once and for all any longer. They move back and forth and maintain strong ties to several countries for the rest of their lives.” Many long-term residents of Norway, for example, can feel like they have two homelands, not just one.

“We will propose that Norway accept dual citizenship, just like most of our neighbouring countries do,” Rotevatn of the Liberal Party told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday. “It’s important for integration, it will make it possible (for foreign immigrants) to serve in the military, to take part in all elections and even to play on the Norwegian national football team.” For most foreigners in Norway who’ve qualified for permanent resident status, it will mostly mean they could vote in national elections and referenda, not just in local elections.

Now Sveinung Rotevatn of the Liberal Party may be the best hope for Norwegians and foreigners alike who want dual citizenship. Rotevatn thinks current rules against it are old-fashioned. PHOTO: Venstre
Now Sveinung Rotevatn of the Liberal Party may be the best hope for Norwegians and foreigners alike who want dual citizenship. Rotevatn thinks current rules against it are old-fashioned. PHOTO: Venstre

While many long-term expatriates in Norway may want to become Norwegian citizens along with retaining their original citizenship, the issue has picked up political steam because of the experience of Cecilie Myhre, a Norwegian who moved to Australia and had to give up her Norwegian citizenship when she needed Australian citizenship to accept a job in the public sector. Norwegians who move abroad and become citizens of other countries are also required under the Norwegian law to formally give up their Norwegian citizenship, even though many don’t in countries like the US which allows dual citizenship and doesn’t demand new citizens to hand in their other passport.

In Myhre’s case, she gave up her Norwegian citizenship. After 10 years “down under,” she’s now living back in Norway but as an Australian citizen with permanent residence permission in her country of birth. It’s a bizarre situation, she feels, and, like Rotevatn and Moi believe, a result of “old-fashioned policy.”

Myhre told NRK this week that she loves both countries and didn’t want to give up part of what she calls her identity. She wears a pin bearing the flags of both Australia and Norway and, along with her partner, has written to Norwegian politicians and used social media to promote her case.

“Now I’m officially a foreigner in Norway, but I have applied to get back my Norwegian citizenship for me and my children, who are born in Australia,” Myhre told NRK. “But I also want to keep my Australian citizenship. I feel like I belong in both countries and am loyal to both, and believe the regulations should reflect that. I want to be a democratic citizen of both.”

Many others share her view in Norway, now including the Liberals, but they face political opposition from the conservative Progress Party, which shares power with the Conservatives in a minority government coalition. Progress Party officials have already claimed they won’t back the dual-citizenship proposal from their government support party.

“When you live in Norway and want to be part of Norwegian society, and take part in the Norwegian democracy, you do that as a Norwegian citizen and not as a citizen of two countries,” Morten Ørsal Johansen of the Progress Party, which has a long history of wanting to restrict immigration to Norway, told NRK. “It is possible to have ties to two countries, there’s nothing in the way of traveling back and forth, but when you live in Norway, you don’t need another citizenship.”

Johansen’s fellow party member Solveig Horne, the government minister in charge of immigration issues, has also told newsinenglish.no that she does not support dual citizenship and has no plans for introducing any measures to allow it. It will thus be up to the Conservatives, who have long supported membership in the EU where dual citizenship is common, if the Liberals’ proposal is to result in any changes.

For current details of exceptions made to Norway’s ban on dual citizenship, click here (external link to immigration agency UDI’s website). Rules and exceptions vary, however, based on the country of citizenship. For more info from UDI, click here.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund



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