For members


Can you start your job in Norway before your work permit is granted? 

To be eligible for a work permit in Norway, you will need a solid full-time job offer, among other things, on the table. Can you start your new role and hit the ground running while your application is processed? 

Pictured is the Barcode business district in Oslo.
Will you be able to start your job before you receive a decision on your work permit? Pictured is the Barcode business district in Oslo. Photo by Carlo Alberto Burato on Unsplash

The wages, work-life balance and office culture, are the key calling cards of working in Norway. Unless you are from the EEA or qualify for a family immigration residence, you will likely need a work permit to move to Norway for your career

Before you start, you will need a solid job offer of either full-time or 80 percent of full-time work. This is in addition to your qualifications being relevant for the job and the pay and working conditions being in line with industry standards. 

Putting in the work permit application after being offered the job can feel like you are stuck in limbo, waiting to start your new role, as work permit applications can take months to process. 

If you want to get an early start and dive into your role and are wondering whether you can start while you wait for your application to go through, you will need to be aware that, typically, this isn’t allowed

“Normally, work immigrants from countries outside the EU/EEA cannot start working until they have been granted a residence permit,” the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes on its website

However, there is an exception to this rule. Employees and workers can obtain permission from the police force, where they hand in the application documents for the applicant to start their job before they receive a decision on their work permit. 

Permission for an early employment start is issued by the police rather than the UDI. When the employer or applicant hands in their documents to the police, they will need to ask for an early employment start. 

If the company is handling the application on the employee’s behalf, it will also need to submit a written power of attorney from the prospective worker

Once the request has been lodged, the police can confirm whether the employee may start work early and work for the employer until their residence application has been decided. During this period, the worker cannot change employer or clients. 

Should the employee require a visa to enter Norway, they can get this by heading to their nearest embassy and handing the early start confirmation to embassy officials. 

The application for early employment can only be made before the police send the work permit application for the police for processing. After the documents have been forwarded, it will not be possible to get permission to start the job before the permit is granted. 

Those with other residence applications lodged will need to wait until they receive a decision on their case before they can work (if their permit allows them to work). 

What else to be mindful of

In some rare cases, you can receive an early employment start confirmation but have your work permit rejected. 

This will be because the authorities will determine whether you meet all the criteria when your case is processed. Therefore, you can have your work permit denied because you don’t have the relevant qualifications for the role (for example)

You will be required to leave Norway and likely lose your job when this happens. 

Furthermore, being permitted to work doesn’t mean that you can start work immediately. You will also be required to have a Norwegian identification number. Some employers will also require a Norwegian bank account for the salary to be paid into. Setting these up may take some weeks.  

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For members


Q&A: What’s next for Oslo’s plan to slash work permit waiting times?

The results of a pilot project that aims to cut the time it takes to be granted a work permit and an ID number in Norway down to three days were revealed at Oslo Innovation Week on Tuesday.

Q&A: What's next for Oslo's plan to slash work permit waiting times?

The pilot scheme, a collaboration between the City of Oslo and public and private sector actors, managed to cut the waiting time for nine skilled worker permits down to three days using a harmonised digital portal. 

Typically, it takes non-EEA hires 37 weeks to start their jobs, according to figures from Oslo Business Region

“The city, Oslo, took a problem that isn’t actually ours because immigration is not a municipal responsibility and found the solution. As a city, we’ve done something quite untypical of a public service,” Rina Mariann Hansen, Vice Mayor for Business Development and Public Ownership, said at the event.  

The scheme, called Kompetansespor (the competence track), was introduced to ensure the city could attract global talent and address a skills shortage.

How did the scheme work? 

Nine skilled worker permit applicants from non-entry visa countries outside the EEA were chosen to participate. 

The candidates uploaded their employment contracts to the digital wallet used for the pilot. They received their residence permit, tax card and permanent Norwegian identification number from a police station within three days of uploading their documents. 

Thea Ullhaug Pope, senior content developer for the City of Oslo, said that after candidates’ documents were successfully uploaded, it took the authorities minutes to grant residence and issue an identity number ahead of the police appointment. 

Only candidates applying for jobs at the University of Oslo were selected for the pilot project. 

What was it like for applicants? 

Mark Ravinet, associate professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Oslo, was one of the candidates selected to take part in the scheme. 

He previously moved to Norway under the EEA regulations as a British national in 2015 before leaving Norway in 2019. 

Due to the UK leaving the EU, he had to apply under the rules for non-EEA workers when he decided to return to Norway. 

He told The Local that the process was simpler than the EEA regulations for moving to Norway for work. Those using the fast track were still subject to the requirements for non-EEA skilled workers. The requirements for those from the EEA are less stringent

“It was even more straightforward. So, when I moved in 2015 (under the EEA rules), it was already relatively easy. I had to show up at the police station and then waited a month for an identification number. With this scheme, the whole process was over in minutes,” he told The Local.

“I had done a lot of research on the regular non-EEA rules and what I would have had to have done if I hadn’t been on the scheme. I was looking at four or five months of waiting, so it was very straightforward,” he added.

Who is eligible for the scheme? 

The City of Oslo is currently working on the next step of the scheme, which will involve working with small businesses. When the project’s next stage is finalised, the candidates will be preselected again.

It will not be possible to apply to be on the fast-track scheme work permits. As the work on the next steps continues, the conditions for eligible candidates will become more apparent.

Companies will need to meet the criteria of having new staff joining around November.

“If a company is hiring, they can ask to be a part of it – but it’s not open for applications as we don’t have the resources and need to figure out what we will test. Since we don’t know the criteria we will test, we don’t want to get people’s hopes up, and then we are not ready to help them,” Pope told The Local after the event.

Could the scheme be adopted nationally, and could other residence permit also be fast-tracked? 

The authorities involved in the scheme, which include the City of Oslo, Oslo Municipality, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), the police and the Norwegian Tax Administration, as well as partners from the private sector that helped develop the digital wallet, want to continue the work. 

Pope told The Local that one of the long-term ambitions of the project is to try and get the scheme adopted by other regions and then nationally. 

“It’s not an Oslo thing that needs to be fixed. We know that it’s something that needs to change across the country. But we can’t wait for it to happen on a national level. We are going to try to be in charge and push it and then hopefully add other cities afterwards,” Pope said. 

She added that informal talks over the project being rolled-out elsewhere had taken place with politicians and other local authorities and that there had been interest but that nothing concrete had happened regarding an expansion. 

Moving forward, the scheme will look to include candidates from countries which need an entry visa to enter Norway. Furthermore, it will look at opening the fast track for those applying for a family immigration permit to move to Norway with a skilled worker. 

“We see that it is important for the city that the skilled worker and their family are all integrated at the same time. We see that for the user, it is very important that they can stay together and travel to Norway. So that is something we really want to happen. The pilot is not finished until we can add the families or people from entry visa countries. We are going to test what is needed to add families and what is needed to add entry visa countries,” Pope said.