This article was first published February 2020 in Europe Committee Newsletter issue 1, which is issued by the the American Bar Association (ABA). The topic of the newsletter was «discussing Business Visa issues in Europe and the United States». The article is written by associate Lisa Vestvatn and partner/attorney at law (U.S.A.) Theresa Comiskey Olsen.
US citizens must typically apply for a residence permit to work in Norway. There are some exceptions, however, for certain occupations if the US citizen plans to work in Norway for fewer than 90 days. If the US citizen is employed with an international company that has a branch in Norway, he is able to work as a trainee at the Norwegian branch of the company. Also, if the US citizen is a commercial or business traveller, and does not have an employer in Norway, he may attend meetings, conferences, and other related work without applying for a visa.
Should the above-mentioned 90 days not suffice, or if the US citizen wishes to stay in Norway permanently, he will need a residence permit. What kind residence permit the US citizen should apply for depends on his qualifications and the type of work in which he will engage in Norway.
The US citizen may apply from abroad online at udi.no/ en and then submit his application to one of the Visa Application Centers of VFS Global in the United States. This short article will discuss the various types of visas available for US citizens wishing to work in Norway, as well as some of the practical issues often faced.
Anyone applying for a work permit in Norway must have completed a higher education or have some special qualifications that are obtained through significant work experience. Skilled workers with an employer in Norway, employees of international companies or abroad who are going on assignment in Norway, or self-employed persons may be granted a residence permit.
If a US citizen wishes to work for a Norwegian employer, he must have received a concrete job offer for a full-time job, or at least an 80 percent position. Accordingly, if a US citizen should get a 70 percent position as a teacher, and a 30 percent position at a supermarket, he would not qualify for a visa. He must also have the qualifications that the job requires. A residence permit may be valid for up to three years at a time; after three years, the US citizen may apply for a permanent residence permit.
If the US citizen is self-employed or an employee of a foreign company, he may be granted a two-year permit, and may seek two-year extensions two times for an aggregate of up to six years in total assuming that the foreign company has a contract in place with a Norwegian entity to perform certain tasks in Norway. The Norwegian enterprise must have a registered business address in Norway. If the US citizen wishes to apply for a new permit after having worked in Norway for six years, the US citizen will need to reside outside of Norway for at least two years before being allowed to apply for a new permit. Furthermore, if the US citizen is to perform assignments other than those set forth in the contract, the US citizen must also apply for a new residence permit.
A US citizen may also apply for a work permit if he wants to start his own business in Norway. As a self-employed person in Norway, a US citizen will be granted a permit for one year at a time as long as his business continues to satisfy all requirements. After three years, the US citizen may apply for a permanent residence permit. It is important that the US citizen plan to engage in long-term business activities in Norway. The business must be a sole proprietorship; it may not be a limited liability company. The work to be performed by the US citizen requires the qualifications of a skilled worker and the business should be so profitable that it has profits of at least US $28,000 per year prior to taxes. During this time, the US citizen may not engage in other work.
The US citizen may, of course, decide to work for another employer during his stay in Norway. If the US citizen wishes to work in the same type of position as before, he will not need to submit a new application. If, however, the US citizen wants to work in a new area, he must apply for a new permit, regardless of the change of employer.
What happens if the US citizen loses his job? If the US citizen has been laid off, he must notify the local police within seven days. He may then stay in Norway for up to six months to look for a new job, assuming that the residence permit is still valid.
US citizens must generally have received a job offer in Norway before they may apply for a residence permit for work purposes. If a US citizen needs to move to Norway before being able to land a job he may, however, get a permit as a “job seeker” for up to six months at a time. It is important that the US citizen be qualified as a skilled worker, i.e. have a higher education or special skills, and actively be looking for employment as a skilled worker. He must also be able to demonstrate that he has sufficient disposable income to live and stay in Norway, i.e., have at least US $2,300 per month.
If the US citizen finds a job as a skilled worker, he must apply for a residence permit as a skilled worker. He may not begin working until such permit has actually been granted. If the job seeker fails to find a suitable job during the six-month stay, he must live outside of Norway for at least one year before being eligible to apply for a new residence permit as a job seeker.
If the US citizen has been granted a residence permit for skilled workers, his family may seek to come to Norway via a family immigration. This includes the spouse, registered partners, cohabitants, and children. Children over the age of 18 may be eligible for family reunion only under certain conditions, such as serious health problems or if the child is still living with his parents and the entire family is moving to Norway.
If a family member does not satisfy the requirements for family immigration, he may apply for a residence permit for work or a study permit.
Pay and Working Conditions in Norway
To be granted a residence permit, the pay and working conditions of the US citizen must not be less than what is “normal” in Norway. For instance, if the position requires a master’s degree, the salary must be at least NOK 428,200 (approximately US $49,800) per year prior to taxes, and NOK 397,100 (approximately US $46,000) for a bachelor’s degree.
As an employee in Norway, a US citizen must have a tax deduction card, file tax returns, and receive tax assessment notices. Taxes are used to finance public services, such as health services and education.
Working conditions in Norway are highly regulated and are aimed to protect all workers in Norway. Both international and foreign companies must observe Norwegian laws if they have employees working in Norway. All Norwegian employee or workers posted in Norway have the right to a safe working environment. Also, all employees in Norway are entitled to at least 25 days of vacation per year as well as overtime payment.