Hearing on dual nationalities

Norway may soon join Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden in allowing dual citizenship

Photos: (left) Christian Leonard Quale / Wikimedia Commons, (right) Wikimedia Commons Soon, perhaps, one will be able to be a citizen of both Norway and the United States.

Photos: (left) Christian Leonard Quale / Wikimedia Commons, (right) Wikimedia Commons
Soon, perhaps, one will be able to be a citizen of both Norway and the United States.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

According to Statistics Norway (SSB), some 670,000 immigrants lived in Norway as of January 2015. Some 15,200 immigrants were granted Norwegian nationality in 2014—the highest number ever registered in Norway. But according to Norway’s Liberal Party (V), many of those who qualify to apply for Norwegian citizenship do not do this.

Norway is the only Nordic country that does not permit dual citizenship. It has been allowed in Sweden since 2001, Finland and Iceland since 2003, and Denmark since 2015.

Current Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) rules state that applicants for Norwegian citizenship must renounce their original one in order to gain Norwegian nationality—unless, for example, the applicant cannot be released from this.

Moreover, the Liberals cite that SSB’s conclusion, which is supported by more recent research conducted by MIPEX (Migrant Integration Policy Index), is that more people would apply for Norwegian citizenship if the risk of losing their original one was lower. A Norwegian national who applies for citizenship of another country must also surrender their Norwegian one.

Both the Liberals and Socialist Left (SV) wish to do something about current anti-dual citizenship legislation and have submitted a proposal to parliament. January 19 saw a preliminary hearing on the parliamentary agenda, with several groups participating.

“While passing the law will benefit foreigners with Norwegian nationality, most of the calls I have received about the matter are from Norwegians who live abroad,” the Liberals’ Sveinung Rotevatn, one of four MPs from both parties behind the initiative, tells The Foreigner.

“The initial hearing is on Tuesday 19th January. It will be followed by three to four weeks of committee work should there be a majority in favor of proceeding. The debate and vote will take place about one and a half months after that, depending on what the committee decides.”

Martin Grüner Larsen, communications advisor at the Socialist Left Party, explains that their position is that “as we move towards a more and more globalized Norway, keeping a 19th-century mindset when it comes to citizenship does not adequately acknowledge the state of the world around us.”

Professor Andreas Føllesdal of the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Law has argued that the dual citizenship ban is difficult to defend. He says that it is based on two reasons: one is that being purely a Norwegian national will create more loyalty towards Norway; the other that having just one nationality will lead to better integration.

“It seems only reasonable to make way for loyalties and bonds of allegiance that cross national boundaries,” Grüner Larsen comments, regarding the party’s view. “A modern democracy should not demand the surrendering of an old citizenship when accepting a new one.”

The Progress Party (FrP), part of the Rightist bipartite coalition government together with the Conservatives (H), is opposed to dual citizenship. They say that their objection is mainly due to integration purposes. “There is, however, a process going on where the party is looking through its policies on this issue. The object is to identify if our current policies are the most effective in fulfilling our main goals,” says communications advisor Kristian P. Larsson.

Joachim Meier Svendsen, communications advisor for the Conservatives, refers to the ongoing process in parliament, adding that the party has not made a decision yet regarding dual citizenship.

The Labor Party (Ap) has not concluded on their position, either. A press spokesperson also refers to the “ongoing process” in parliament.

Center Party (Sp) communications advisor Lars Vangen says that the question of dual citizenship is “on the agenda for our group meeting soon.” It has not been possible to obtain a comment from the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) as yet.

Liberal Party MP Sveinung believes that an approved legislative change could be nigh. “We’ll have to wait and see, though I’m optimistic that the matter will be settled by Easter this year,” he states.

The four MPs who are sponsoring the Bill are Sveinung Rotevatn and Iselin Nybø (Liberals), and Karin Andersen and Ingunn Gjerstad (Socialist Left).

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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