Given the more insecure future facing newcomers in the country, Norway fell out of the MIPEX ‘Top Ten’ into the second-class of leading countries. Norway leads this second category and still has a comprehensive approach to integration, but lacks one or two key dimensions of equality. Immigrants and Norwegian citizens favourably enjoy equal opportunities in Norway, but not all immigrants enjoy the same basic rights or long-term security. Norway’s current approach encourages the public to treat immigrants as their neighbours, but not necessary as their equals or fellow citizens. Equal rights, opportunities and security could be guaranteed in Norway through small changes in the path to permanent residence or citizenship and in access to health or other policy areas.
These policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
Norway has stayed on its middle-of-the-way approach within the Nordics, ahead of more restrictive Denmark and Iceland but behind more inclusive Finland and Sweden. Norway is more similar to Finland and Sweden in their commitment to equal opportunities in economic, social, political and health spheres. In contrast, Norway is more similar to Iceland and, to some extent, Denmark in its insecurity about the long-term and its denial of a few basic rights. Norway’s overall integration policies are also similar to Germany’s.
- Labour market mobility: Favourable: Ranked #4 alongside Canada, Germany and other Nordic countries, Norway offers effective support and opportunities for many non-EU immigrants to progress into stable quality employment. However, not all temporary workers enjoy immediate access to all types of employment, study grants and social assistance.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Norway’s contradictory policies are less restrictive than Denmark’s policy but more than those in Sweden, Finland and traditional destination countries. As in many MIPEX countries, Norway provides support and equal rights to reunited families, but imposes major obstacles for separated families that can undermine the well-being and integration.
- Education: Slightly favourable: In the international Top Ten on education, Norway’s well-developed equity policies help all types of children to achieve and feel safe and at home at school. Schools are targeting pupils’ individual needs, teaching Norwegian at all levels, providing mother tongue support and diversifying their teaching staff. Intercultural and diversity education could be better reflected in the curriculum, extracurricular activities and postsecondary education.
- Health: Slightly favourable: In the international Top Ten on health, Norway’s well-coordinated and responsive policy could include all migrants, regardless of their status, in healthcare access and information, and better involve migrants in designing and delivering services. These gaps could have major implications for immigrants’ physical and mental health.
- Political participation: Favourable: Norway continues its tradition as an inclusive Nordic democracy. Most non-EU immigrants become politically active and enfranchised as local voters or national citizens, although they could be better consulted and heard in policymaking
- Permanent residence: Slightly favourable: Immigrants' integration may no longer quickly benefit from the relative security and equal rights as permanent residents, as Norway’s 2017 language, integration and income tests are more demanding than most countries.
- Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: While naturalising citizens can now become dual nationals in Norway, as in most countries, Norway’s flexible path to citizenship was replaced in 2017 by language, integration and income tests, which may exclude some immigrants who are putting in the effort to learn the language and participate as much as they can.
- Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Potential discrimination victims can benefit from a strong law, policy, Ombud and enforcement mechanisms, except on nationality discrimination, where Norway has weaker protections than most developed countries.