Whether driven by a desire to reconnect with their heritage or seeking a higher standard of living, Americans continue to look towards Norway to chase the Scandinavian dream.
Moving to Norway is relatively straightforward for citizens of many European countries because of EU freedom of movement rules. Although Norway isn't an EU member, its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) opens up this possibility.
For American citizens, the process is more difficult, but it's far from impossible. According to official Statistics Norway data, more than 10,000 American citizens lived in Norway as of March 2023. Of those, approximately one-quarter live in the capital city, Oslo.
Immigration is an intricate field with numerous considerations. Here are five common pathways for American citizens seeking to relocate to Norway. For full details on these five pathways plus other options, consult the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
The number one route to residency for most people without family connections to Norway is to obtain a work permit. But this is more complicated than just applying for a job vacancy.
That’s because you aren't just competing with the 5.5 million other residents of Norway. You’re also competing with hundreds of millions of people from across Europe, for whom Norwegian employers have a much easier route to hire.
Citizens of any EU/EEA country do not need a work permit to work in Norway. In contrast, for a Norwegian company to hire an American citizen, there’s a lengthy work permit application process in the way including minimum salary requirements.
While there are always exceptions, to realistically receive a job offer as an American, you will need to be working in an industry suffering a workforce shortage in Norway, or have significant skills and/or a substantial profile in your industry.
Unlike many popular “work abroad” locations, native English language ability is not much of an advantage, as all Norwegians of working age are fluent in English to varying degrees.
This also rules out much of the ‘teaching English as a foreign language’ market that is not so big in Norway. That being said, international schools are popular, and teachers of other subjects are sought from around the world.
One possible route in to Norway is if you already work for a global company with operations in Norway. This is especially relevant in the oil and gas, energy, ICT, and maritime industries. In these circumstances, putting your name forward for an internal transfer is likely to be your easiest route.
Once you have experience working in Norway on your resume, it will become easier to find other positions.
The advantage in a transfer within an international company is that in the majority of
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