A total of 21,600 people obtained Norwegian citizenship last year, setting a new record by a wide margin. The number of officially new Norwegians was up by nearly 8,000 over 2016.
Fully 80 percent (18,200) of those who applied for and received Norwegian citizenship come from countries outside Europe. That’s not so unusual, since residents of most European countries are already allowed to work and settle in Norway as fellow members of the European European Area.
News bureau NTB reported that refugees from Eritrea made up the largest group of foreigners to become Norwegians, followed by immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Thailand, the Philippines, Afghanistan and Iraq. More than half were women and 30 percent were children.
Foreigners can apply for citizenship after seven years of legal and registered residence in Norway and proof of Norwegian skills. The numbers applying may soon rise if a government proposal to finally allow dual citizenship in Norway is approved by Parliament as expected. Current rules require new citizens to give up their current citizenship, which is difficult for many long-time permanent residents born outside Norway and has kept them from fully integrating into society and acquiring the full rights and privileges of Norwegians.