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Historisk arkiv

Newsletter on Norwegian Refugee and Immigration Policy

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg I

Utgiver: Kommunal- og regionaldepartementet

August 2000

August 2000.

Newsletter on Norwegian Refugee and Immigration Policy

August 2000


Return to Kosovo

Norwegian refugee policy is based on an assessment of the individual’s need for protection. Emphasis is given to the UNHCR’s points of view when processing asylum applications from refugees from Kosovo in Norway.

In April 2000 the UNHCR issued a document on return to Kosovo, outlining how the situation is difficult for the minorities there, while Kosovo Albanians as a group no longer require protection. Nevertheless, individuals might be in a vulnerable position, necessitating individual assessment of asylum applications.

Approximately 8,000 Kosovo refugees, primarily Kosovo Albanians, were granted temporary protection on collective grounds in Norway. Some 6,100 of these were evacuated in the spring of 1999. The others were staying in Norway with unresolved asylum applications or rejections when the NATO action was initiated. Temporary protection was granted for one year with no individual assessment of individual needs for protection.

Due to the rescinding of the programme for collective protection of asylum seekers from Kosovo on 6 August 1999, these permits were not renewed on a collective basis when they expired in the summer of 2000. After this time several hundred asylum seekers arrived from Kosovo. These applications are being processed in the normal manner. Few of these applicants belong to minorities in Kosovo.

Return from Norway

All those who have received collective protection in Norway are eligible for return support if they return while they still have residence permits in Norway. This means that each person receives NOK 15,000, in addition to having his or her travel expenses covered. Support is only given once, and must basically be paid back on re-immigration into Norway.

Kosovo refugees who have had collective protection, and whose applications for asylum are rejected, if they have applied for asylum within one month before the temporary protection expires, may receive support for voluntary return. This is a special scheme for these asylum seekers. It is, moreover, a requirement that the person in question leaves Norway within a month after the rejection from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.

Persons who do not leave voluntarily after the temporary permits expire, and who may also have received a final rejection to an application for asylum or continued residence on other grounds, will be sent to Kosovo in accordance with regular return procedures.


Return and re-immigration from Kosovo during the period 1 July 1999 – 7 August 2000

As of the middle of August, approximately 4,800 Kosovo refugees with collective protection in Norway have returned to their country of origin with return support.

Of these more than 1,722 have been registered as re-immigrants into Norway. This is possible while they continue to have a valid permit, i.e. by the end of July for the majority. One hundred and nineteen of these have returned to Kosovo for the second time. By the middle of August there are thus still approximately 4,800 Kosovo refugees who have or have had collective protection in Norway. Around 2,000 of the evacuated persons had been registered as asylum seekers by the end of July. An additional 500 out of the approximately 1,900 others who received collective protection last year have requested that their asylum application be re-examined.


Norway’s resettlement quota for year 2000

The Norwegian Parliament has set this year’s quota to 1500 places. Year 2000 is the last of the three-year flexible quota period, and places not used in 1998 and 1999 will be carried over to 2000. However, as this year is the last of the three-year period, places not used this year will be withdrawn.

Based on UNHCRs proposal and the assessment of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has allocated the resettlement quota for year 2000 as follows:

  • 400 Iranians (primarily from Turkey)
  • 250 Afghans (primarily from Iran)
  • 50 Iraqis (primarily from Turkey)
  • 300 Africans (primarily from Kenya)
  • 50 persons from East-Asia
  • 200 persons from the former Yugoslavia (in particular Serbs from Croatia)
  • 50 open places (all nationalities)
  • 80 places for emergency cases
  • 20 places for "Twenty-Or-More"
  • 50 unallocated places (convertible for alternative resettlement activities)
  • 50 places for "high profile" persons (politicians, human rights activists, academia).

The latter category, the "high profile" persons, is reserved for referrals from others than UNHCR. The category is primarily intended for persons coming directly from their country of origin.

When selecting cases for resettlement in Norway, particular attention is paid to the potential for integration in Norway. Such cases are of special importance when selecting larger groups of refugees. A few refugees with potential for integration may serve as an integration helper and assist in creating a link between the group of refugees and the Norwegian society.


Measures combating racism and discrimination

A new status report indicates that virtually all the measures in the action plan have been initiated.

Thirty-two measures are included in Handlingsplan mot rasisme og diskriminering, 1998-2001 (the Government Action Plan to Combat Racism and Discrimination 1998-2001).

The plan is one of the Govern-ment’s central instruments in its effort to prevent and combat racism and discrimination, and also appears to have been an effective tool.

A number of Ministries and other public agencies are responsible for implementing and following up the measures under the plan. The status report is based upon reports from these agencies.

The measures under the plan focus on legal assistance and monitoring the police and the courts, the labour market, the housing market, schools, key sectors and local communities.

According to the status report, some of the measures differ some-what from what is described in the plan; nevertheless, they are in compliance with the plan’s intentions. Moreover, some measures have only been partially implemented.

The report shows how far the work has progressed. It does not assess goal attainment or impact, as the plan is still in effect and will continue until the end of 2001.

Immigrants in the public sector

One of the 32 measures is the Government Action Plan for the Recruitment of Persons with Immigrant Backgrounds to the State Sector 1998-2001.

This plan aims to stimulate greater recruitment of persons with immigrant backgrounds to the state sector so that those best qualified are employed and the state can provide the best possible service. Through active recruitment of persons with immigrant backgrounds the state sector may eventually reflect the general composition of the population.

Centre against ethnic discrimination

The Centre against ethnic discrimination was established in September 1998 for a four-year trial period to serve as a legal assistance office that will also help to document the type and scope of discrimination in Norway. The centre’s two reports: Moving Toward Better Protection, on the type and scope of discrimination, and NORGE - en rettsstat for alle? (NORWAY – a state with justice for all?), on the attitudes to minorities in the Norwegian legal system, have been posted on the centre’s web site: www.smed.no

The action plan and the status report can be obtained from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. The action plan has also been posted at www.dep.no/odin/norsk/publ

The Ministry of Defence has drawn up an action plan to boost the recruitment of persons with immigrant backgrounds to the Norwegian Armed Forces. Photo: FRM, Torggeir Haugaard


Act against ethnic discrimination

A legal committee will be assessing how to improve legal protection against ethnic discrimination, and will propose a bill against ethnic discrimination.

Currently there are some isolated provisions prohibiting ethnic discrimination. These provisions are rarely tested in the courts. Groups that should be protected feel that they have poor protection against discrimination. The Government therefore wishes to assess how to improve legal protection.

On 3 March 2000 the King in Council appointed a committee that will propose a bill against ethnic discrimination. The Committee will outline various alternatives for sanctions/use of the act and will assess how to ensure that the provisions are applied effectively. The Committee will also propose how the UN Convention against Racial Discrimination may be incorporated in Norwegian legislation through a new special act against ethnic discrimination, and assess obligations pursuant to other relevant conventions relating to human rights. The Committee shall also study legislation in other countries. One year has been set aside for this work.


World Conference against Racism

The UN will arrange a world conference against racism in the autumn of 2001 (www.unhcr.ch/html/racism/racism/htm). In preparing for the world conference, the Council of Europe will hold the European Conference against Racism on 11-13 October 2000 in Strasbourg.

Prior to the conference the Forum for Non-Governmental Organisations will be held on 10-11 October 2000. In Norway a number of NGOs have convened a national working group that will supply ideas for the preparations for both the European conference and the World conference. The group is coordinated by the Anti-Racism Centre, and receives financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Settling unaccompanied minor asylum seekers

Never before have the municipal authorities settled so many unaccompanied minor asylum seekers as in 1999 when 302 single minors were settled in municipalities. In spite of this there continues to be a shortage of settlement places for this group.

This increase is due to the fact that the number of unaccompanied minors who have applied for asylum in Norway has more than doubled in the last few years.

In comparison, 215 unaccom-panied minors were settled in 1998 and 133 unaccompanied minors in 1997. In 1999 a total of 575 unaccom-panied minors arrived in Norway. A growing number of these have to stay in reception centres longer than is desirable, particularly those without relatives or other connections to the country. The average waiting time after a residence permit has been granted was more than five months in 1999.

The media have lately focused on so-called "anchor children". These are children who are sent to Norway by their parents in the hope that the rest of the family will be granted family reunification with them. How-ever, statistics prove that only a very few are granted family reunification. In 1997, 219 unaccompanied minors arrived in Norway. Of these, 11 unaccompanied minors have been granted family reunification with 27 family members. Even though the 1998 and 1999 figures have not been finalised, they also indicate that the rate of family reunification is low.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration gives priority to settling unaccompanied minors, but has not succeeded in procuring an adequate number of settlement places for 2000. Proper settlement of unaccompanied minors in municipalities requires individually adapted measures such as the recruitment of care persons, establishing communal housing/foster homes and so on. This may take a long time, and some municipal authorities are uncertain as to what housing solutions should be chosen. Several municipalities also feel that state subsidies for settling unaccompanied minors are inadequate.


Measures to facilitate speedy and good settlement

In recent years a number of measures have been initiated by the state to solve the problems of settling unaccompanied minors. Subsidies for settling unaccompanied minors have increased and a number of development projects have been implemented. Six municipalities are participating in a project to develop good models for municipal work with unaccompanied minors, while the College of Telemark is carrying out a project to obtain an overview of what has happened to persons who arrived as single minors in Norway ten years ago.


Manual

The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs will soon issue a manual on municipal assistance for unaccompa-nied minor refugees.

The intention of this manual is to improve local expertise in the activities aimed at unaccompanied minors and to strengthen cooperation between the central and local autho-rities. The manual shall also serve as a guidebook for the assistance given to unaccompanied minors.


Women in focus

The two main aims of the Handlingsplan mot tvangsgifte (Action Plan against Forced Marriages) 1998-2001 are to prevent young people from being forced into marriage and provide better assistance and support to young persons who are under the threat of being or have been forced into marriage.

The majority of migrants in the world are women, and their situation is receiving more and more attention, particularly the abuse some women are subjected to. Forced marriage has received special attention in this context, and a new action plan has proposed a number of measures to addres this issue: information and dialogue, assistance and crisis measures, education, training and skills, assistance from the foreign service, legislative changes, research and documentation.


Photo: Knudsen fotosenter

Mediation and dispute resolution

The Government has allocated funds to projects managed by organisations that have extensive experience from assisting young persons who are threatened with or subjected to forced marriage. Priority is given to measures and projects that emphasise mediation and dispute resolution between parents and young people.

International cooperation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to develop contacts with the authorities in relevant countries aiming for speedy and efficient handling of specific cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support the establishment of a contact and information centre in Pakistan for women with links to Norway.

Training

The soon to be published guidebook Veiledning i arbeid med likestilling (Guide to Equal Opportunities Work) will include the topic of forced marriage. This guidebook will be used in primary school, lower secondary school, upper secondary school and adult education, and will be accompanied by training programmes for teachers.

The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs is developing the continuing education programme Barnevern og etnisitet (Child Welfare and Ethnicity) to incorporate the topic of forced marriage into this course. The Ministry has also initiated a survey of existing skills at Family Welfare Offices, and will assess the need for measures when this work has been concluded.

Mental health

The topic of forced marriage will also be included in Opptrappingsplan for psykisk helse 1999-2006 (Escalation Plan for Mental Health 1999-2006) which will improve the expertise of public health clinics and the school health services in this area.

The action plan can be found at www.dep.no/odin/norsk/publ.


Immigrants who have been forced into marriage allowed to stay in Norway

The spouse of a person who is settled in Norway may be granted a family reunification permit and thus a residence permit.

If she leaves her spouse before three years have passed, she could, according to current regulations, lose her residence permit. In such cases, women who have been forced into marriage are in a difficult situation. If they break out of the marriage they will be sent back to the community they came from – to condemnation and/or those who forced them into the marriage. Therefore, even though they have been forced into it, many choose to remain in the marriage.

Dating from 1 July, the Immigra-tion Regulations have been amended so that these women have better options. They are now allowed to stay in Norway even if they leave their spouse. The condition is that they must institute proceedings to have the marriage annulled. If a Norwegian court annuls the marriage, they will be allowed to stay in Norway.


Collective housing

Sheltered collective housing will be established for women with immigrant backgrounds who encounter problems in connection with forced marriage. The project is under the auspices of Oslo krisesenter (Shelter), but has its own premises.


Contact telephone for forced marriage

Young people from anywhere in the country who are threatened with or victims of forced marriage now have a telephone number to call for advice. The service is operated by Oslo Røde Kors Internasjonale Senter (ORKIS) (Oslo Red Cross International Centre). The telephone line is open between 11 AM and 8 PM on weekdays. The toll-free number is: 815 55 201.


More knowledge about immigrants

Statistics Norway (SSB) and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development are collaborating on the regular publication of statistics on the immigrant population.

The study Levekår blant innvandrere 1996 (Living conditions among immigrants 1996) documents the living conditions among eight non-western immigrant groups (sample 48,000 persons between 16 and 70 years of age).

The publication Innvandrere i Norge. Hvem er de, hva gjør de og hvordan lever de? (Immigrants in Norway. Who are they, what do they do, and how do they live?) SSB, Statistical analyses no. 20 – 1997, provided for the first time a total overview of immigration and immigrants through public statistics.

Innvandring og innvandrere 2000 (Immigration and immigrants 2000) is presented in Statistical analyses no. 33. This publication compiles various statistics on immigrants in Norway, focusing on time series that illuminate the development in various living condition areas.

Barn og unge med innvandrerbakgrunn (Children and young persons with immigrant backgrounds) Aktuell statistikk, March 2000, presents available statistics on demographics, education, crime and child welfare.


Young immigrants in the city

Disputes between young persons and their parents in immigrant families may be called culture conflicts, but largely they are also generation conflicts.

This was one of the topics at a conference arranged by the Norwegian Research Council in March this year. Issues examined included aspects of work and education, gender, the urban environment, culture, identity, religion, gangs, marginalisation and how it feels to be the object of research.

The conference was targeted for researchers of young people and immigration, local and central users of research, workers in the youth field, organisations for young people and immigrants and other interested parties.

It was concluded that:

  • There is little difference in most respects between the majority of young persons with immigrant backgrounds and other young persons.
  • A growing number of minority youths distinguish themselves in sports, art, politics and education.
  • Young persons irrespective of their background are working together to develop new and different life styles. Young people are also adapting, for example young persons with majority backgrounds in some environments adopt the language, music, food customs etc. of minority groups.

His Royal Majesty Crown Prince Håkon attended the conference on young immigrants in the city.

Photo: Scanpix a/s


Metropolis conference on immigration and cities

The 5th International Metropolis conference will be arranged 13-17 November 2000 in Vancouver, Canada. Norway will host the 7th Metropolis conference in Oslo in 2002.

Metropolis is an international forum for research and policy development on inter-national migration and cities.

Metropolis activities in Norway are defined in accordance with the original Metropolis idea - to bring researchers and policy makers/practitioners together around the topic on migration, diversity and changing cities (www.international. metropolis.net). New research on these topics is under way under the Programme for International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) administered by the Research Council of Norway: (www.svf.uib.no/sefos/IMER/nfr/)

A national network for the exchange of knowledge and experience has been established on the initiative of the Department of Indigenous, Minority and Immigrant Affairs in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (www.krd.dep.no). The programme, invitation for workshops and the first invitation for the 7th International Metropolis conference in Oslo in 2002 will be presented during next year.


Labour immigration

Towards the end of the 1990s labour immigration increased substantially in step with the growing demand for labour on the domestic front.

The general rule is that all permits must be applied for and granted before the foreign national enters the country. When a permit is to be granted for the first time, foreign relations interests, and national-security and immigration-policy interests must not indicate that a work permit should not be granted. A stipulation for being entitled to a permit is that housing and financial subsistence must be ensured.

Three types of work permit may be granted:

  • A permit that can constitute the basis for a settlement permit after three years of residence and an application for settlement. Typical cases include specialists that the Norwegian labour market lacks.
  • A permit that can be renewed but which does not constitute the basis for a settlement permit. Typical cases include au pairs or missionaries.
  • A permit that cannot be renewed and which is granted for three months or a year, for example to workers for typical seasonal industries.

It has become easier for specialists and seasonal workers to be granted work permits in Norway

Specialists

Up until 1 May 2000 the "specialist provision" laid down special conditions which conferred general entitlement to take work in Norway to foreign nationals who had vocational training on a high level or who had special qualifications.

This provision was then changed to apply to foreign nationals with vocational training, but not "on a high level".

The reason why vocational training was found to be sufficient is the fact that the labour market in Norway is too restrictive in some areas. The condition under both the former phrasing and the amendment is that it is not possible for the position to be filled by domestic labour or labour from the EEA area.

The intention of the amendment is to make it easier to cover the need for skilled labour in those areas where this has proved difficult even when advertising for labour in the Nordic countries and other EEA countries, for example in the healthcare sector and the IT industry. However, vocational training on a higher level can still be required "if special considerations so dictate".

Permits granted pursuant to the specialist provision, also those granted after the amendments, will constitute the grounds for family reunification and permanent residence.

Foreign specialists educated in Norway

On 1 January 2000 the so-called "quarantine" provision was liberalised. After completing their education, self-financed foreign-national students may be granted work permits if they satisfy the conditions for work permits as specialists pursuant to the Immigrant Regulations. They must at any rate return to their country of origin after their studies if they do not receive an offer of employment that satisfies these conditions.

For students who have received Norwegian student loans based on foreign-aid considerations, this "quarantine" provision still applies before they may be granted a work permit.

Seasonal workers

Previously, seasonal work permits could be granted for the period 15 May to 31 October. As of 1 April 2000, this time restriction has been dropped. The need for foreign seasonal labour for crop harvesting can now be covered for a slightly longer period of time, and it is, moreover, possible to have foreign labour for other seasonal work than during the summer months, for example for the tourist industry or seasonal fishing, even in the winter months.

An applicant may still only be granted a permit for up to three months (extendable up to four months in extraordinary cases). Nine months must pass before the person in question may be granted a new permit as a seasonal worker.


Administration of immigration to be united under one Ministry

The Minister of Local Government and Regional Development has assumed responsibility for parts of the policy on asylum and immigration. From 1 January 2001 the responsibility for immigration issues will be moved from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

At the same time an independent appeals board will be established to handle all appeals of immigration cases.

Currently the Ministry of Justice is in charge of all administrative processing of cases pursuant to the Immigration Act. The Ministry is responsible for developing regula-tions in this area, and currently the Ministry of Justice also processes appeals of decisions made pursuant to this legislation.

The immigration board

One of the reasons behind establishing the immigration board is the aim to provide asylum seekers with better legal protection than they have had.

An independent board with similar powers as a court of law has been deemed to be the most appropriate body for ensuring legal rights in individual cases, including the consideration of equal treatment.

With the establishment of the immigration board a major part of the Ministry of Justice’s responsibilities will have been placed elsewhere, thus making it natural to coordinate the remaining tasks with the rest of the immigration administration.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (KRD)

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (KRD) is currently responsible for the quota for resettlement refugees, reception and settlement of refu-gees and return.

KRD coordinates and develops measures to combat racism and discrimination and has been given the responsibility of working for cultural diversity, and establishing dialogue and interaction, for example by administe-ring support for immigrant organisations and other NGO assistance.

Furthermore, the Ministry is responsible for overseeing the implementation of a coordinated policy on refugee issues, immigration and integration, where various measures and support schemes are considered as a whole.

Regulation and integration

Even though regulatory and integration considerations may not always be in agreement, they are closely related, and it may be advantageous to consider them as a whole at the earliest possible stage. This restructuring means there will be fewer actors in the immigration field, which should lead to more comprehensive policy and improve political and administrative control of this field.


The UDI has updated its web site

The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has now redesigned its web site.

The UDI web site offers news and background information on much of what is happening within the field of immigration, refugee and integration policy. Features include statistics, legislation and provisions, publications and relevant background articles. The web site will be updated on a regular basis.

You will find the UDI’s web site at : www.udi.no


The fortnightly newsletter on Norwegian refugee and immigration policy is issued jointly by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Ministry of Justice and the Directorate of Immigration. An English edition is published every half year.

Editor-in-chief: Thor Arne Aass, Editor: Biljana Lauvstad, Tel.: +47 22 24 71 69 Fax: +47 22 24 95 48, E-mail: [email protected]

Suscribing to the Newsletter is free.

http://www.odin.dep.no/krd/norsk/publ/periodika/nb/

Address: Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development,
PO Box 8112 Dep, 0032 Oslo, Norway

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