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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.

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 enrol 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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Norwegian parliament in favour of tuition fees for foreign students law

A majority of MPs in Norway will change current laws to allow universities to charge some foreign students tuition to study in Norway.

Norwegian parliament in favour of tuition fees for foreign students law

Norway’s parliament will adopt a new law that will make it possible to collect tuition fees from international students in Norway.

The government had previously passed a proposal as part of its national budget for 2023 that will see students from outside the EEA, and Switzerland charged for studying in Norway.

All parliamentary parties except the Red Party, the Green Party and the Liberal Party are in favour of the amendment to the Education Act.

The Ministry of Education says that the new act will free up to 2,600 study places in Norway and that universities and colleges will collect around 300 million in tuition fees annually. The ministry also predicts that 70 percent of international students in Norway today would not have studied in the country if there were fees.

The Socialist Left Party has said it will table amendments to the proposed law but says they are unlikely to get a majority. One would allow study places to decide whether they wish to implement fees, and the other would allow a larger group of foreign students to be exempt from tuition fees.

When it formed, the current government pledged not to introduce tuition fees for foreign students, and the party the government typically negotiates with to secure a majority in parliament for its budgets, the Socialist Left Party, also said numerous times it was opposed to the proposal. Despite this, the measure was put forward by the three parties as part of the national budget.

“The free principle is hereby buried; it is a day of mourning for students and for equal opportunities! When it really mattered, neither the Socialist Left Party, the Labor Party, nor the Center Party was willing to stand up for free higher education,” Maika Marie Godal Dam, head of the Norwegian Student Organisation, told Norwegian newswire NTB.

The previous Solberg government tried to implement a similar proposal in 2014 but had to withdraw the proposed legislation.