Questions and answers about Norwegian immigration policy

How is responsibility divided between the Ministry, the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board?

How is responsibility divided between the Ministry, the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board?

The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) makes the first instance decision on applications for citizenship, asylum and most other applications pursuant to the Immigration Act. When UDI rejects applications pursuant to the Immigration Act and the Citizenship Act, the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) is usually the appeal body.

Can the Minister influence/decide individual cases?

The Minister/Ministry can issue instructions concerning interpretation of the law and the exercise of discretionary judgement, but not decisions concerning individual cases. This applies to all bodies that make decisions pursuant to the Immigration Act. For cases pursuant to the Citizenship Act, the Ministry has full powers of instruction in relation to the UDI. Instructions can also be issued in cases pursuant to the Immigration Act when considerations of fundamental national interests or foreign policy considerations are involved.

Can the Minister comment on individual cases?

The Minister is reticent about individual cases The limitations that follow from the duty of confidentiality and consideration for the individual foreign nationals involved are important in this context. Since the processing of individual cases has been transferred from the Ministry, the Ministry will not have first-hand knowledge of such cases. A comment by the Minister shall not be seen as an instruction to the immigration authorities about how to decide a case.

What rights of public access apply in immigration cases?

To a large extent, immigration cases involve personal circumstances that are subject to a duty of confidentiality. In some cases, they also involve matters that, if they became known, would be detrimental to the foreign national’s relationship with the authorities in his or her home country. This limits the information that the immigration administration is able to give in individual cases.

The duty of confidentiality about people’s personal circumstances can be set aside with the consent of the person concerned. Journalists can thus gain access in individual cases by contacting the party to the case directly and asking to see the decision, or by obtaining authorisation from the party concerned to be given access by the immigration authorities. journalist will then be given access to all the information to which the party concerned has access.

The duty of confidentiality is not an obstacle to information being given if there are no legitimate grounds for keeping the information secret, for example if the information is publicly known. The immigration authorities can also state that information reproduced in the media is incorrect or gives the wrong impression, also if this is detrimental to the interests of the person protected by the duty of confidentiality.

Whether further information can be given in individual cases must be subject to a concrete assessment in each individual case. In such assessments, emphasis will be placed on the sensitivity of the information, whether the person concerned has initiated media coverage, and how incorrect the information is.

In addition to information that is subject to a duty of confidentiality because it concerns a person’s personal circumstances, the immigration authorities can also withhold other information from public access pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. For example, this applies to information which, if it became known, could be damaging to Norway’s national security or relations with foreign countries.

Where is relevant background information available?

For more background information, see

 

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