Fewer applications as a result of new rules for EEA nationals
In 2010, UDI received 15,170 applications for family immigration, 11 per cent fewer than the year before. The police process most of the EEA applications, and the decline in the number of applications to the immigration administration as a whole was 20 per cent. The main reason for this decline was that most non-Nordic EEA nationals no longer had to apply for a family immigration permit to live with a family member in Norway. Now, they only have to register with the police. In 2010, a total of 11,540 EEA nationals registered on the grounds of family immigration.
More stringent requirements led to more rejections
Almost 10,000 people were granted family immigration permits in 2010. This is the lowest number for many years and 45 per cent lower than the year before. Fewer applications and the registration system for EEA nationals explain part of this change, but the UDI also rejected a much higher proportion of the applications than previously.
While the regulations are less stringent for EEA nationals, the new Immigration Act has led to stricter rules for other groups. New and more stringent subsistence requirements and fewer opportunities to make exceptions from the requirement have contributed to the sharp increase in the rejection rate. The new subsistence requirement means that the applicant must document that the family member living in Norway has sufficient income and has not received social security benefits during the past year. The family member must also be guaranteed future income, and benefits such as unemployment benefit, work assessment allowance and own funds can no longer be included. This contributed to an increase in the rejection rate from 22 per cent in 2009 to 28 per cent in 2010.
In many cases, the new act requires that the person living in Norway must have been employed or studied here for four years before a family member can be granted a family immigration permit. So far, the four-year requirement has had only limited effect on the outcome of applications, but it could have affected who chose to apply.
The UDI also gave priority to dealing with the oldest cases and the cases expected to be the most difficult in 2010. The rejection rate is higher for these applications than for other cases.
More rejections of children and nationals of certain countries
The rejections were not evenly distributed between the different countries of origin. Over a third of the rejections concerned nationals of Somalia, Afghanistan or Eritrea – three countries that have traditionally had many applicants and a relatively high rejection rate. For nationals of Kosovo, Turkey, Pakistan and Somalia, there was a big increase in the rejection rate compared with the year before. Most rejections concerned persons who applied for family immigration as a spouse, but also many elderly parents and children from Somalia had their applications rejected.
In total, the UDI rejected nearly twice as many applications for children from a former relationship (children with only one parent in Norway) as in the previous year. The new subsistence requirement was the most important explanation for this. In cases where children applied for family immigration together with a parent with a new partner in Norway, several applications were rejected on the basis of the four-year requirement.
Who were granted family immigration permits?
While EEA nationals previously accounted for a large proportion of regulated family immigration to Norway, the largest groups in 2010 were from Thailand, the Philippines, Somalia, Iraq and Russia. More than a third of all those granted family immigration permits were from these five countries. These countries were also strongly represented in the 2009 statistics. More Filipinos were granted family immigration permits in 2010 than the previous year, while the UDI granted fewer permits to nationals of Thailand, Somalia, Iraq and Russia.
Who were they granted family immigration permits with?
There are clear differences in terms of who family immigration applicants from different countries applied to be reunited with. Four out of ten were granted family immigration permits with a Norwegian or Nordic national. Among these, there were most applicants from Thailand, the Philippines and Russia. Eritreans and Somalis were mostly granted permits to be reunited with a family member who had come to Norway as an asylum seeker, and most of the family immigrants from India moved in with a family member working in Norway.
Marriages of convenience lead to rejection
In 2010, the UDI rejected 185 applicants for family immigration because we believed that the marriage had mainly been entered into in order for the applicant to be granted a residence permit, a so-called marriage of convenience. Most of these cases concerned nationals of Turkey, Somalia, Morocco, Kosovo, Vietnam and Pakistan. In 2009, we rejected 198 applications on these grounds. The slight reduction may be linked to the fact that the UDI processed fewer family immigration cases.
In 2010, the UDI was given the right to obtain information from the police about people’s police records, and seven applications were rejected on the grounds that the UDI believed that the applicant or the children of the applicant could be abused or grossly exploited.