Your guide to what it takes to relocate to Norway from America from an American who has done it.
Before you get started
Before you pack your bags there are a few things you should know. To immigrate to Norway from any non-EU country such as the USA is an uphill battle. In other words, it’s not so easy.
The only easy ways to relocate
When it comes down to it there are really only two easy ways to relcoate to Norway from America.
- You fall in love with a Norwegian citizen and marry them.
- You have a written job offer in hand from a Norwegian company.
To be honest I’m not sure which is a bigger challenge. Both have their advantages and both their own challenges. Since you’re reading this I’ll assume you don’t have either. So keep reading for more tips.
Does having Norwegian heritage help?
There are some 8,000,000 Americans with Norwegian heritage. During the early 1900s life in Norway was not so great. The country was extremely poor and both good jobs and food were scarce. As a result, many brave Norwegians relocated to America, specifically to Washington, Minnesota, and Wyoming. Parts of my own Norwegian family ended up spending time in all of the above with my Great Grandparents settling in the Seattle, Washinton area.
Unfortunately having this family connection will not be enough to immigrate to Norway. Norwegians will be impressed with these connections and ask you about what area they are from, but it won’t get you into the country.
Can you claim asylum as an American?
Regardless of how bad or dangerous things get in Amerca asylum is unfortunately not really an option. While the Norwegian government does a commendable job allowing asylum cases, they focus on countries with much worse conditions or those raged by war. Even so, Norway is a very attractive country for asylum seekers so the process can be difficult regardless of your country of origin.
How long can Americans stay in Norway without a resident permit?
Having an American passport does have some advantages. With it, you can come to Norway visa-free and stay for up to 90 days at a time. It’s recommended you take a few trips before relocating to be sure you’re ready to make the leap. While Norway seems exotic and beautiful from what you see online just like any new country it may not be for everyone.
It’s important while visiting Norway you don’t overstay your welcome or your visa. Read the latest visa rules and following them closely. If you do spend too much time in Norway without a resident permit you can be banned from entering the country in the future.
Getting a Norwegian Resident Permit
The most straightforward way to obtain a Norwegian resident permit is with a full time and permanent job offer. Norway has a shortage of what they called skilled workers such as IT (information technology) and other types of business executives. If you have these qualifications it will be much easier to be accepted for a permit. However, getting a company to hire you has it’s own challenges.
Other way to get a resident permit
Self Employed: This is how I was first able to obtain Norwegian residency. While it does not require a full-time job offer in Norway it still requires work (and the contracts to prove it) in Norway. If you are already a consultant or have a highly specialized skill you can sell consulting hours this might be the best way to start. Due to the high cost of employing people in Norway, and the difficultly to fire them, Norwegian business uses a lot of consulting services. This permit is usually good for just 1 year but that will give you ample time to learn about the country and find longer-term employment.
Job Seeker: If you are a skilled worker and need more time to land a job you might be able to get a job seeker permit. This allows you to stay in the country for 6 months.
Sleeping with Norwegians
You want to sleep with Norwegians and there’s nothing wrong with that. I highly recommend it and you’ll find the legends are true, many of them are very very good looking. Beyond the superfical however Norwegians are also great people and can make wonderful life partners. Getting them to marry you though might be an even bigger challenge than finding employement in Norway.
Truth be told most Norwegian men and women are not driven to get married. Thanks to a fair and egalitarian society there really is not much need to. Partners get the same benefits even if not married, unlike America which requires partners to marry to share things such as health insurance. Many of my Norwegian friends have been together for 10+ years, have kids together, and own real estate together without ever officially tying the knot.
So again it’ll be a challenge to marry into the country and get a quick ticket inside. But in love and war, anything is possible so perhaps you’ll find a way to do so. Best of luck!
What do Norwegians think about Americans these days?
To be honest, Americans used to be much more highly regarded in Norway. I recall some 5 years ago when this was exciting to Norwegians who met me. However, times have changed and the political sideshow in America has tarnished our image, unfortunately.
Previously you could have said that America led the world and that was certainly true in Norway. Like many countries, they consumed our media, film, and other aspects of American life with much delight. Over the last few years that has changed and it’s noticeable here in Norway.
You’re better off to own up your own American-ness and make a little fun of yourself. I’ve found this to be the best route and I’ve come to enjoy their little jabs at America. I think about them every night while I’m at home cleaning my guns. 😉
Resources for Relocating to Norway from America
Here are a few resources to help you with your research.
- UDI: The official Norwegian immigration authority. They have a ton of easy to find information with most of it available in English.
- American in Norway Facebook Group: Misery loves company as we say! This is a wonderful group for connecting with and learning from other Americans living in Norway.
- Americans Living in Norway Facebook Group: Another helpful Facebook group with yet more Americans sharing their Norwegian experience.
- Finn Job Board: The leading job board in Norway much like Craigslist in America.
- American Embassy: The official website of the American Embassy located outside of Oslo.