Circular | Date: 18/03/2020 | Ministry of Justice and Public Security
Our ref.: 20/1382
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security refers to the Regulations of 15 March 2020 No. 293 relating to rejection etc. of foreign nationals without a residence permit in the realm, out of concern for public health (last amended 18 March 2020). Foreign nationals arriving in the realm after 16 March at 8 a.m. are subject to implementation of the Regulations.
It is pointed out for clarity’s sake that the Regulations do not prevent Norwegian nationals or foreign nationals with residence permits from returning to Norway.
This circular replaces Circular G-4/2020 of 15 March 2020. It is unclear how the situation is developing, and it is changing rapidly. The impact of infection control measures that have been introduced must be assessed continuously and weighed against important societal and business interests affected by the measures. This circular could be subject to rapid amendments and adaptations.
2. Main rules regarding rejection
The Regulations stipulate that foreign nationals without a residence permit may be rejected for reasons of public health, due to outbreaks of the hazardous and widely infectious disease COVID-19. This means that all foreign nationals without a residence permit, who are not covered by any of the exemptions cited below, will be rejected without further consideration of the risk of infection posed by each individual.
The Regulations establish exemptions for:
- EEA nationals, and their family members as defined under section 110 of the Immigration Act, who reside or work in Norway; see section 1, third paragraph, first sentence, of the Regulations
- Posted workers from an EEA country who have begun a work assignment in Norway or are to begin an work assignment that will last for three months or more; see section 1, third paragraph, second sentence, of the Regulations
- Foreign nationals who will only be staying in airport transit before departing Norway; see section 2 a) of the Regulations
- Foreign nationals who are covered by an exemption from the duty of quarantine pursuant to section 2 of the Regulations of 13 March 2020 No. 287 relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway; see section 2 b) of the Regulations
- Foreign nationals seeking protection in the realm (asylum); see section 2 c) of the Regulations
- When special reasons so indicate, such as specific care responsibilities for persons in Norway or other compelling welfare considerations; see section 2 d) of the Regulations
Section 2a of the Regulations also establishes exemptions for other specific groups of persons:
The following foreign nationals covered by section 1, first paragraph, may not be rejected:
- Foreign nationals on their way to work or residence in Svalbard.
- EEA nationals who need to travel through Norway to get home.
- Nordic nationals from the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Åland, and their family members, who reside or work in Norway.
- Members of the Sami community in the exercise of reindeer herding.
- Foreign nationals who perform professional goods transport functions.
- Journalists and other personnel on assignment for a foreign media institution.
- Foreign nationals as specified in sections 1-4 and 1-5 of the Immigration Regulations, and who can present a diplomatic or service passport, or possibly a national passport in combination with a Norwegian ID card issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or in combination with a Schengen residence card for embassy personnel. The same applies to dual-accredited diplomats and diplomatic couriers.
- Military personnel as specified in section 1-7, second and third paragraphs, of the Immigration Regulations.
- Foreign nationals who work on mobile or fixed installations; see sections 1-10 and 1-11 of the Immigration Regulations.
- Holders of a valid aviation personnel licence (see section 2-9 of the Immigration Regulations) en route to or from active service.
- Seamen, en route to or from active service, with an identity card as specified in section 2-8 of the Immigration Regulations or a Philippine Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book or a Philippine national passport as specified in section 3-1 (j) of the Immigration Regulations, or
- Foreign nationals who have been granted a visa by the Norwegian decision-making authority after 15 March 2020; see Ministry of Justice and Public Security instruction GI-07/2020.
Regarding point 1 above:
An exemption has been established for foreign nationals on their way to work or residence in Svalbard (see section 2a a) of the Regulations) to ensure that foreign nationals who live or work in Svalbard will be able to pass through the Norwegian mainland when travelling between other countries and Svalbard. This exemption must be seen in connection with the Regulations relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway, under which everyone arriving from abroad must undergo quarantine on the Norwegian mainland before onward travel to Svalbard can take place. It is pointed out that this requirement continues to apply. Departure from Svalbard to a foreign country via the Norwegian mainland is covered by the exemption for airport transit contained in section 2 a) of the Regulations.
Regarding point 2 above:
An exemption has been established for EEA nationals who need to travel through Norway to get home. It is pointed out that this exemption covers all transport, but it must be seen in connection with section 2a of the Regulations relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway.
3. A closer look at exemptions based on maintaining proper operation of critical public functions
Section 2 b) of the Regulations states that foreign nationals who are covered by an exemption from the duty of quarantine pursuant to section 2 of the Regulations relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway may not be rejected.
This means, first, that foreign nationals who travel in connection with their work between home and their workplace, and in so doing cross the borders between Norway, Sweden and Finland, shall not be rejected; see section 2, first paragraph, of the Regulations relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway.
This also means that foreign nationals who are ‘essential to maintain the proper operation of critical public functions and attend to fundamental needs of the population, including persons who perform goods and passenger transport functions’, may not be rejected; see section 2, second paragraph, of the Regulations relating to quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway. Those Regulations require that the foreign nationals in question are working or travelling to and from work.
Examples of other foreign nationals who may not be rejected because their presence in Norway is essential to maintain the proper operation of critical public functions and attend to fundamental needs of the population include foreign nationals invited by the Norwegian authorities for special purposes. Such foreign nationals could, for example, have special expertise in addressing virus outbreaks or other skills required by the health service or other critical public functions.
The critical public functions are:
- Administration and crisis management
- Law and order
- Health and care services
- Rescue service
- Digital security in the civilian sector
- Nature and the environment
- Security of supply
- Water and wastewater
- Financial services
- Power supply
- Electronic communications
- Satellite-based services
Also included are pharmacy and maintenance.
4. A closer look at exemptions for special reasons
Section 2 d) of the Regulations states that foreign nationals may not be rejected if ‘special reasons so indicate, such as specific care responsibilities for persons in Norway or other compelling welfare considerations’. This applies to cases involving, for example:
- Minor children and foster children of foreign nationals who live or work in Norway.
- Foreign nationals who have a special care responsibility for persons who live in Norway, including minor children or foster children or others with special care needs.
- Foreign nationals who, due to compelling welfare considerations, need to enter Norway, and the visit cannot wait; an example would be a foreign national who seeks to visit a dying or severely ill close family member in Norway (spouse/cohabitant, sibling or family member in ascending or descending line).
- Foreign national cruise passengers who began a cruise before 16 March at 8 a.m. and need to enter Norway in order to return to their home country.
It is pointed out that the list above is not exhaustive in relating examples of what may be regarded as “special reasons”.
5. A closer look at documentation requirements
Individual foreign nationals must be able to substantiate when necessary that they are covered by one of the exemptions.
6. Relationship to quarantine regulations
It is emphasised that the exemptions to the rejection provisions do not constitute exemption from the rules relating to quarantine and isolation in force at any given time.
Nina E. D. Mørk (by authority)
Deputy Director General