Norway is the second-happiest country in the world, boasts the globe’s most inclusive economy, offers free university education to both Norwegian and international students at most colleges and universities, and offers generous paid family leave. Its Government Pension Fund (also known as the Oil Fund and the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world) has over $1 trillion in assets—and announced in November that it will divest in oil and gas on economic and environmental grounds, and to diversify.
On the mainland in Oslo, private economic diversification is already taking place. Norway’s budding tech sector is aiming to attract skilled foreign workers to help fuel this rising industry—and it may do just that with its strong social safety nets, high quality of life, and a blooming techpreneur scene. But for foreign workers who are considering moving to Norway to take part in the tech or startup scenes, obtaining a Norwegian residence permit and other documents is a must.
Obtaining a Norwegian Residence Permit for Non-EU/EEA Nationals
Before foreign workers can begin contributing their talents to Norway’s tech (or other) sector, they must follow necessary application processes. Applicants who are not EU/EEA nationals will first need to apply for a residence permit before starting work in Norway. In most cases, however, applicants must have a job lined up before applying for the residence permit. The applicant’s level of competency and desired type of work will determine which residence permit they need. Each non-EU/EEA applicant will need to have:
- A work and residence permit
- Tax deduction card
- ID-number and ID-card
- Personal income tax
- National insurance
Employers’ Requirements for Hiring a Non-EU/EEA Worker
Employers who wish to hire a foreign worker who does not live in an EU/EEA country must first make an offer of employment to the applicant before the applicant can apply for a residence permit. The worker cannot begin working until they receive a residence permit, save for only a few cases. For both skilled workers and seasonal workers, employers can apply on the worker’s behalf, as well as on the behalf of the worker’s spouse/cohabitant and children. Although each residence permit comes with an expiration date, most residence permits allow for renewal. However, employers and permit holders should be mindful of renewing their permit no later than one month before its expiration date, with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) suggesting that permit holders renew between two and three months prior to the expiration date.
Proposed New Flat Tax Rate for Foreign Workers
On May 15, 2018, Norway’s Finance Ministry announced that it is proposing a new flat tax for foreign workers on short-term contracts. The proposal would tax nonresident workers at 25% with no permitted deductions. If accepted, the new tax plan will go into effect in 2019.
The new flat tax is another sign Norway is trying to attract skilled workers from outside the country—many of whom may be attracted to the growing tech and startup sectors. There are a number of reasons these sectors are so vibrant, with Norway’s social services among them; they assist startups in getting off the ground and provide a safety net should they fail. Recognizing that oil funds will one day dry up, the government has shifted its focus to assist Norwegian startups and other businesses—and attract a skilled global workforce to help drive the growth of these sectors.
Rely on Experienced Immigration Knowledge and Service
If Norway’s efforts to attract foreign workers to fuel its growing tech and startup sectors are successful, residence permit applications will surely increase. If you’re considering hiring a foreign worker in Norway, reach out to Velocity Global’s immigration services for guidance and assistance.