Qualify for residency in Norway through false family reunions 

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Men from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria pay women to marry them in Southern Europe and then spend just enough time in Norway so that the man is granted permanent residency.

At the start of 2014, 19 men from Bangladesh came to Norway. They all carried a marriage certificate from Cyprus, and several of them had been married by the same man.

Their wives were from Romania and Bulgaria, and stated that they were working in Norway as cleaning personnel. The husbands then applied for family reunion, and according to the EEA agreeement, they formally qualify for permanent residency under these circumstances.

In Oslo there are currently more EEA-citizens who apply for family reunion with their spouse than Norwegian applicants. According to police, around half of the marriages are described as atypical.

In 2011 there were 167 applications from EEA-citizens, whereas the number this year could end up at 600 if the current trend continues throughout the year. The paradox is that the rules are quite strict if one of the individuals involved is Norwegian, whereas it is much easier to be granted family reunion with your spouse if the one person is an EEA-citizen.

“In principle these applications are approved as long as the EEA-citizen can document that they work in Norway and show proof of their marriage. However, we do see definite signs that neither the employment nor marriage is real,” says office manager Fredrik Strøm at the Oslo Police’s foreign department.

If the marriage or employment is investigated and turns out to be fictional, the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) makes the final decision on whether or not the persons involved will be deported.

“Even though we are able to identify these cases it is demanding to investigate and substantiate that these individuals actually do not qualify for residency in Norway. The implications of the EEA regulations, which are based on the free flow of labour, is huge when it comes to these cases,” Strøm explains.

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