Law, policy and practice on statelessness in Norway is mixed. Norway is party to relevant regional and international human rights instruments, including all the core statelessness treaties; and some data and mapping of the stateless population exists. However, this is limited by the lack of a definition of a stateless person and a dedicated procedure to determine statelessness and grant stateless people protection under Norwegian law in line with its international obligations. There are other administrative procedures through which statelessness can be identified, including when applying for international protection, travel documents or acquisition of nationality, but no rights or legal status in Norway stem from being recognised as stateless.
There are some protections and relatively strong procedural safeguards against the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Norway, but detention is possible without identifying a country of removal, alternatives are not routinely applied, and cases of stateless people being returned to countries where they have no residence rights have been reported.
Norway also has relatively strong safeguards to prevent and reduce statelessness, including a facilitated route to naturalisation for stateless people. In accordance with a government instruction from 2016, stateless people born in Norway may acquire Norwegian nationality after three years of continuous residence in Norway, including ‘unlawful residence’. Stateless people not born in Norway may generally acquire Norwegian nationality after three years of ‘lawful residence’. However, a legislative change in 2021 has created a legal uncertainty as to the residence period required for naturalisation of stateless people granted international protection, seemingly increasing it to five years. There are some further remaining legal gaps. Birth registration law and practice is generally good, although there are barriers to some children receiving birth certificates. Deprivation of nationality is permitted, including on national security grounds since 2019. Changes to the Norwegian Nationality Act, in force since March 2021, broaden grounds for deprivation of nationality to include acts seriously harmful to fundamental national interests, including as a peremptory measure. However, there are safeguards to prevent this leading to statelessness, except where nationality was acquired through fraud.
Marek Linha, Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS)