On 28 October 2016, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security issued a new instruction to the immigration authorities allowing stateless children born in Norway to acquire Norwegian citizenship.

Previously, stateless children born in Norway “without lawful residence” had not been able to acquire Norwegian citizenship. Several national and international organizations, such as UNHCR, European Network on Statelessness, Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers, and Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion had condemned this Norwegian practice.  According to these organizations, the requirement of “lawful residence” violates the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961.

The new instruction has deleted the requirement of lawful residence. Instead, children born stateless in Norway are merely required to have been continuously residing in Norway for three years before submitting their application for Norwegian citizenship. As clarified by the instruction:

“Stateless applicants born in Norway must be residing in Norway at the time of application for citizenship and have been continuously residing in Norway for the period of three years before application. The residency period is counted from the date of the decision when this is in favor of the applicant.” (translation provided here).

The European Network of Statelessness has called this new instruction an “important victory for stateless children born in Norway”. Issues such as a lacking definition of statelessness, an inexistent statelessness determination procedure, and a failing information system remain.

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