It’s good news that the bill on dual citizenship now is presented to parliament for enactment. We have read the proposal, now you can see what’s good about it and what we think can improve.
Norwegians Worldwide is very happy that this is happening now. Read about us praising the government here. But what exactly does the new bill say? We have read through the proposal, so you don’t have to. Most of it is good, but some things can be improved.
This is good
Recognition of Norwegians abroad
Overall, this means Norway finally will catch up with the global tendency. The legislative change will contribute to recognize Norwegians living abroad and their families as important ambassadors and resources for Norway. Dual citizenship will make it easier for them to maintain a strong connection and ties to Norway, and similarly enable them to contribute with their international experience to Norwegian society. See page 17 in the bill.
We have been heard
A total of 257 individuals sent their comments during the hearing and every single one of them advocated for legalizing dual citizenship. The government has noticed us in the bill, so thank you to our members who continue to be engaged in this cause, it truly does help. See page 17 for the ministry’s praise.
Retroactivity and no deadline for reclaim
No changes have been made on this point since the first proposal from Dec 2017 as presented in the hearing document. That means that reclaiming one’s Norwegian citizenship has retroactive effect and there will not be a deadline to submit a notification of reclamation of citizenship.
Notification, not application
Another positive aspect of the new bill is that reclamation of citizenship can happen by notification and not application.
No fee for children
Children under 18 years of age are exempt from paying the reclamation fee of 1500 NOK.
Although NWW initially was against presenting a police record when submitting a notification to reclaim citizenship, we are happy that the government has limited this to only apply to Norwegian police record, which the notifier themselves must apply for. This requirement also applies to children under 15, the age of criminal responsibility. It is positive that the authorities will not require the notifier to present a foreign police record. At the same time, it is stressed that the notifier has the responsibility and duty to inform about any criminal activities the notifier is charged or convicted for abroad. If the notifier gives incorrect information, the authorities may recall the citizenship.
This can improve
Former Norwegian citizens who’ve lost citizenship due to absence from Norway
Paragraph 24 (§24) in the Citizens’ Act “Loss by Absence from Kingdom” stays the same. That means that the possibility to reclaim citizenship by notification first and foremost applies to those who have lost their Norwegian citizenship because they applied and was granted a new, foreign citizenship (due to the principle of one citizenship).
Compared to former Norwegian citizens who actively applied for another foreign citizenship and thus lost their Norwegian one, other requirements apply to former Norwegian citizens who became Norwegian by birth or adoption after §4 “Acquisition by birth” and who were born abroad (and thus had dual citizenship), and then lost their Norwegian citizenship because of absence from the Kingdom (not having lived in Norway for 2 years in total within turning 22 years of age, or not having applied for retention of the citizenship before turning 22). This group must apply for Norwegian citizenship again, with the requirement of 2 years residence in Norway etc., ref. regulations in §15 “Former Norwegian citizens”.
As we stated in our hearing statement, many Norwegians living abroad have not been aware that they lost their citizenship if they did not apply for retention before turning 22 years old. We have also heard cases where former Norwegian citizens have been misinformed by Norwegian authorities or Norwegian missions abroad. NWW believes it is unreasonable that these former citizens are not treated equally as those who deliberately chose or had to choose another citizenship.
Fee for reclaim may rise
The suggested fee of 1500 NOK for notification of reclaim of citizenship is lower than for application of citizenship of 4200 NOK, but may rise as indicated in the proposal. See page 30 in the proposed bill.
Requirement of residence for Nordic citizens
The proposition states that Nordic citizens who’ve formerly had Norwegian citizenship must be a resident in Norway to be able to reclaim the Norwegian citizenship. This is not a requirement for individuals with the right to reclaim citizenship living outside of the Nordic countries, like the UK, Germany, Spain or the U.S.
Requirement of residence for children of those who reclaim (Children’s acquisition of citizenship as secondary persons)
Children of persons who reclaim their citizenship can apply for Norwegian citizenship, and not notify of reclaim, like NWW suggested. But they must live in Norway to get it approved, along with other requirements in §15, second paragraph. However, it is not required that the applicant must have stayed in Norway for seven years, and they are also not required to fulfill the requirements of Norwegian language and social science competence.
The bill was presented for the King on Friday, August 24. Next stop is Stortinget (parliament) where the proposition will be discussed. Most parties are luckily pro dual citizenship, so we hope for a swift process there. Stortinget opens Oct 1 and with the encouragement from the government, there will hopefully be an enactment in the fall session of 2018.
After the parliamentary vote, the government will start the process of withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s 1963 Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality. Regulations in the convention say that from the time the Council of Europe has received the application of withdrawal from Norway, one year must pass before the changes can take effect. It is therefore likely that the changes to the Norwegian Citizens’ Act may take effect earliest on Jan 1, 2020.