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EDUCATION

The key things you need to know about Norway’s student visa

If you want to study in Norway and you're not from a country that is a member of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you will likely need a student visa. Here's what you need to know.

Student
In this article, you'll find the essential information you should be aware of if you're seeking to obtain a study permit for attending a university or college in Norway. Photo by Sanket Mishra on Unsplash

The student visa – officially called a residence permit for studies or a study permit – allows you to enrol in various types of education in Norway, from upper secondary education and folk high schools to universities and vocational schools.

In any case, if you’re from a country outside the EU or the EEA and want to study in Norway, you will likely need to get a study permit.

In this article, we will focus on the key things you need to know if you’re applying for a study permit to go to a university or college in Norway.

For the rules that apply if you’re looking to enroll in other study programs in the country, kindly consult the website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

There are different rules in place for different non-EU/EEA countries. The UDI has a helpful wizard that allows you to quickly figure out which study permit requirements apply to your individual circumstances, available here.

General requirements (US applicant example)

For the purposes of this article, we will go through the rules that apply to study permit applications for prospective students from the United States who wish to enrol in a Norwegian university or college.

The basic things you need to know are that you will have to pay an application fee (you can find a list of fees that currently apply here), that the authorities will check whether you have been admitted to a college or university (admission is a prerequisite), that you need to have a place to live during your studies, and that you need to study full-time.

As you probably know, Norway is a notoriously expensive country. Therefore, there are also strict rules in place about the money you need to have to live in Norway during your studies. The minimum for a school year is 128,887 kroner, while those studying for only one semester need to have 58,585 kroner for the autumn semester and 70,302 kroner for the spring semester.

Also, note that some students from outside the EEA and Switzerland will be required to pay tuition in Norway from the autumn of 2023.

The source of the funds can vary – from student loans and grants to own funds. You’ll need to present proof of funds by submitting, for example, a bank statement from a Norwegian bank account or the deposit account of your educational institution.

If you have managed to secure a part-time job in Norway (congratulations!), the expected income maybe be included towards the requirement.

Note: If you don’t have a bank account in Norway, you can use the bank account at the institution where you will study if you make the necessary arrangements with it beforehand. Just make sure to contact them early on in the process.

Remember that your desired place of study must be included on the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education’s (NOKUT) list of accredited universities. You can check the full list of such approved institutions here.

How to apply

You can apply for a study permit from abroad or hand in your application in Norway.

If you’re applying from Norway, you’ll need to follow the UDI’s wizard to pinpoint the exact application requirements that apply to your case, as these differ based on a broad range of factors (e.g., do you already have qualifications as a skilled worker and have legal stay in Norway, did you have a residence permit in Norway for the last nine months, etc.).

However, if you’re applying from abroad, the process is somewhat straightforward.

First, you’ll need to print out the UDI’s checklist and gather the necessary documents. You can find the list here.

Secondly, you’ll need to fill in your application – the application form can be found on the immigration authority’s website here. Note that you’ll need to sign in to the UDI portal before accessing the page.

Lastly, you’ll have to hand in the application and documents in person a the Visa Application Centres or an embassy. You can find more information about handing in applications on the Norwegian government’s website, here.

What rights and obligations does a study permit entail?

If granted a study permit in Norway, you will also automatically get permission to work part-time for up to 20 hours per week, including remote work, in addition to your studies and full-time during holidays.

However, you will not be allowed to run your own business or be self-employed in the country.

Furthermore, once you get a study permit, your spouse or cohabitant and children will usually be able to apply to come and live with you in Norway.

Just note that the immigration authorities are unlikely to process your family’s applications simultaneously with your study application – it might take a while.

Also, if you decide to apply for a permanent residence permit down the road, note that the period you have spent in Norway with a study permit does not count towards the necessary time minimum for permanent residence.

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For members

MOVING TO NORWAY

Six questions that will answer whether Norway is the place for you

Considering a move to Norway? Before you pack your bags, it's important to understand whether life in the country aligns with your lifestyle and expectations.

Six questions that will answer whether Norway is the place for you

As the allure of Norway continues to captivate the hearts and minds of those looking to move to the country, it’s crucial to take a sober look at the many perceptions of living in the Scandinavian country. 

READ MORE: Is Norway still an attractive country for foreign workers?

By considering these six questions, you can better assess whether Norway is the right country for you.

Can you handle the (harsh) weather?

It’s no secret that the Norwegian weather can be unpredictable.

Summers in the east and south can be mild and pleasant, with long daylight hours, but winters can be dark and cold, particularly in the northern regions.

READ MORE: How to dress for the cold weather in Norway

Furthermore, the western parts of Norway can get quite wet (Bergen, the country’s second-largest city, is often called “Norway Rain Capital”).

Therefore, Norway’s weather may be a good fit if you thrive in colder climates and enjoy outdoor activities like skiing or hiking.

However, you may find the climate challenging if you prefer warmer temperatures year-round.

Can you adapt to day-to-day life in Norway?

One of the harsh realities newcomers to Norway quickly encounter is the high cost of everyday expenses, particularly when it comes to dining out and indulging in small luxuries like coffee and snacks.

With prices that often surpass what many are accustomed to in their home countries, people find themselves making difficult choices about where to spend their hard-earned kroner.

As a result, embracing free or low-cost lifestyle choices becomes not just a preference but a necessity for many immigrants.

Indulging in a daily latte or espresso quickly adds up (for example, a caffe latte at Espresso House will set you back between 60 and 70 kroner).

Therefore, many newcomers to Norway find themselves switching to filter coffee or forgoing their regular caffeine fix in favour of more budget-friendly alternatives.

READ MORE: Cost of living: How expensive is Norway compared to a year ago?

The same is true for dining out in Norway, which can be a delightful experience but is often reserved for special occasions rather than everyday indulgences. Restaurant prices reflect the country’s high cost of living, making meals at eateries a luxury rather than a routine affair for many foreigners (and, let’s face it, Norwegians too).

It is no surprise, therefore, that Norwegians prioritise leisure time spent in nature or with family and friends – which doesn’t come with a price tag attached (most of the time).

If you value a slower pace of life and opportunities for outdoor adventure, you might find the prevailing lifestyle in Norway fulfilling. However, if you crave constant social activities, restaurant meals, and regular nightlife outings, you may need to adjust your expectations.

Is Norway’s office culture a good fit for you?

Norwegian work culture is known for its egalitarianism and emphasis on teamwork. While this approach fosters a supportive work environment, some people accustomed to more competitive workplace cultures may find adapting challenging.

Many of their new Norwegian colleagues will prioritise work-life balance over career advancement, which may frustrate those seeking rapid professional growth.

READ MORE: What to know when searching for a job in Norway

For those who prioritise career advancement and financial success, adjusting to Norway’s more laid-back approach to work may require a shift in mindset – here, it’s essential to manage expectations and recognise that career progression in Norway may be more gradual and less linear compared to other countries.

On the other side, many newcomers to Norway will enjoy the focus on work-life balance – especially when they have kids or are able to spend more time on themselves.

Fisketorget

If you can’t get enough of seafood, moving to Norway can feel like hitting the culinary jackpot. Pictured is the Fish Market in Bergen, western Norway. Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

Will you be able to make friends?

Building social connections in Norway requires proactive effort, as Norwegians can be somewhat reserved and may not initiate social interactions themselves.

If you’re willing to take the initiative and actively engage with locals, you’ll find Norwegians welcoming and friendly.

However, if you’re accustomed to more outgoing social dynamics, adjusting to Norway’s introverted culture may take time – and relentlessness when it comes to inviting locals to join you at a bar or café.

Do you like seafood?

Norwegian cuisine reflects the country’s rich heritage and diverse natural landscapes, yet it often finds itself overshadowed by more renowned culinary traditions.

While some Norwegian ingredients are celebrated for their exceptional quality, the overall reputation of Norwegian cuisine tends to be… subdued (to put it mildly), with many considering it bland and unexciting.

READ MORE: Does Norwegian food deserve to be ranked the worst in the world?

This reputation stems partly from its traditional emphasis on simple, hearty food, with an abundance of potatoes, root vegetables, and preserved meats.

Compared to the bold flavours and intricate spices found in cuisines from other regions, Norwegian dishes may appear relatively tame. However, within this seemingly unassuming cuisine lies a hidden gem: the outstanding quality of Norwegian seafood.

For lovers of seafood, Norway is nothing short of a gastronomic paradise. With access to some of the world’s most pristine and bountiful waters, Norwegian fishermen harvest countless delicacies, including fresh salmon, cod, shrimp, and shellfish.

Can you learn the language?

While English proficiency is widespread in Norway, particularly in urban areas and among younger generations, mastering the Norwegian language is vital if you want to enhance your experience and integration into Norwegian society.

Learning Norwegian goes beyond mere communication; it’s a gateway to understanding the nuances of Norwegian culture, traditions, and social norms.

READ MORE: Why you should learn Norwegian even if you don’t need it for work

By speaking Norwegian, you’ll signal your commitment to embracing Norwegian society, fostering deeper connections, and forging meaningful relationships with locals. So, while you can definitely get by just on English, in order to truly thrive, you’ll need to master the language.

Proficiency in Norwegian also opens doors to professional opportunities, particularly in sectors where local language proficiency is valued (honestly, this is the case for most industries, with public sector jobs, such as those in government, education, and healthcare, virtually always requiring proficiency in Norwegian for effective communication and collaboration).

Expect language courses to be expensive, but consider them an investment. By focusing on language learning, you’ll often position yourself for faster advancement in your chosen field and expand your career horizons.

READ MORE: Why do people move to Norway, and where do they come from?

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