New rules for long-staying children

The government and the supporting parties have agreed on new rules for long-staying children. The rules are still strict, but a few more families will be granted leave to remain. Generally, children must have lived in Norway for a minimum of four and a half years and gone one year to school.

Long-staying children are children who have lived several years in Norway without leave to remain. When the authorities decide whether long-staying children should be granted leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, they weigh the consideration for the child’s best interests up against so-called immigration-regulating concerns.

The new rules describe which immigration-regulating concerns weigh heavily and which are less important. The rules also make clear that the child’s best interests and the child’s attachment to Norway shall weight heavily, and in many cases have greater importance than immigration-regulating concerns.

The new rules, enforced on 8 December 2014, are a clear improvement compared to the government’s earlier drafts. Earlier, they suggested that parents, as a rule, should have proven their identity and made return possible. This demand is now absent. This is a clear signal to the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) that the child’s situation is the most important factor. Several long-staying children have been rejected because their parents have not proven their identity. With the new rules, several of these families can be granted leave to remain.

The new rules state that parent’s active work against proving identity should weigh heavily. If parents state a fake identity, this could obstruct the family from receiving a permission to stay in Norway, even if the family has lived in Norway for four and a half years or more.

NOAS will follow UNE’s considerations very closely in the future, to make sure that the change of rules actually lead to more families being able to stay in Norway.

The change of rules does not impact the one-time-solution which implies to the cases of some long-staying children. Read more about this here (in Norwegian).

How many children can stay?
According to numbers from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) of children in reception centers, a total of 330 children with the duty to return have by 30 November 2014 been in Norway for three years or more. 124 of these children have lived in Norway for more than  five years.

Under the current practice, children must have lived in Norway for at least four and a half years and gone to school for one year before they have an attachment to Norway that is strong enough to be granted leave to remain. In some cases, an even longer stay in Norway will be required because the child’s best interests is weighed against immigration-regulating concerns. It is only in special cases, like where there are very serious health conditions, that leave to remain may be granted for children who have been in Norway less than four and a half years and who are not in school age.

It is difficult to tell exactly how many families get to stay with the new rules, and it is not possible to determine exactly how the new practice will be. The new rules open up for a less strict practice towards long-staying children and their families, and will particularly be of importance to the 124 children who have lived in Norway for more than five years.

Need for legal aid
Long-staying children’s families have to send an appeal for a change of UNE’s decision for UNE to review their cases again. It is important that this appeal contains relevant information as described in the new rules. NOAS offers families free legal aid and will send appeals to the authorities in cases where a positive decision may be obtained with the new rules. To offer children’s families the appropriate legal aid, the ‘dugnad’ for free legal aid to long-staying children continues. We still need more support!

Read more:

Information for asylum seekers with long-staying children who acquire legal aid from NOAS: https://www.noas.no/en/legal-aid-to-long-staying-children/

Read more about the ‘dugnad’ for free legal aid and support it here: https://www.noas.no/en/free-legal-aid-to-long-staying-children/

Read the new rules (in Norwegian) here and here.