Norway to extend foreigner residence permits

By Monitoring Desk
Monday – March 23, 2020
OSLO (Norway): Norwegian labour and social affairs ministry is working on an amendment to the immigration regulations to allow foreign workers already in Norway to receive a residence permit extension, this amendment is of great importance to agriculture, an official statement said on Sunday.

According to detail, the coronavirus situation is causing major agricultural challenges as closed borders and quarantine restrictions led to a shortage of foreign workers.

The problem is particularly serious in the fruit, berry and vegetable sector, which sees a need for many thousands of seasonal workers throughout the year.

“With this amendment, we will have an important measure put into place. There are already hundreds of workers in the country who will be able to extend their residence permit in Norway. This will alleviate acute problems for certain producers who lack labour,” agriculture and food minister Olaug Bollestad said.

Additional ways of solving the emerging labour problems are also being examined. Besides retaining foreign workers who are already here, two main approaches are under consideration.

One is to use available Norwegian labour. The other is to facilitate access to labour from abroad. A number of Norwegian workers have been laid off, and we must look at whether they can be accommodated in other types of work during their lay-off period. Other relevant groups include Norwegian students and pensioners.

Gaining access to foreign labour with appropriate expertise is also important. The specialised fruit, berry and vegetable sector requires personnel with a variety of different backgrounds. Numerous seasonal workers from abroad have the required expertise.

“Lack of agricultural labour is a high-priority issue, and the problems associated with it must be resolved quickly. I am working closely with the industry and several ministries to identify good solutions. Agriculture faces a labour-intensive period ahead, so we have no time to lose,” agriculture and food minister Bollestad said.

The amendment to the immigration regulations will make it possible for seasonal workers who are in Norway during the COVID-19 pandemic to renew their residence permit and stay in Norway for more than 6 consecutive months.

The aim of the labour and social affairs ministry is to have the amendments adopted at the beginning of next week.