One problem with having udi.no
as your only source of information for planning your trip to Norway, is that you will only ever get the official line. Oh, and another thing: they're completely batshit insane. I know four year olds who are better at keeping a story straight than UDI. Beware that you will get different answers to the same question from just about everybody.
While spending lots of time on hold with UDI's Opplysningstjeneste (Information Service for Applicants), I've been able to think up several variations of the name:U
What's your favorite? Got any other suggestions? :D
Anyway, so on to the helpful part of this blog. I will start from the beginning, but I'll inevitably backtrack as I remember things I should've
said. I think this starts with how to find a job in Norway.
I'm assuming you already know why
you want to work there... but let's review, shall we?Reasons to work in Norway:
- Great pay for young professionals
- 4-5 weeks min. paid vacation per year
- Feriepenger: your boss pays you 10% of your salary to go on holiday
- Pay no taxes in month of December (or is it November?)
- Weak dollar translates into higher kr. earnings (easier to pay off loans)
- Universal healthcare coverage
- Beautiful wilderness & lots of it!
- Proximity to mainland Europe
- De mange fine dialektene!
- Brown cheese, if that's your thing
- Unbearable pretention (ex: "well, in Europe...") comes with
- Taxation starting from 23% for most full-time work
- Possible double taxation from the US if you work abroad for less than 1 year
- Higher cost of living
- Booze is expensive
- Culture & language clash
- Negative aspects of being foreign
- Norwegians take a while to get to know (but it's worth it, of course)
Oh yeah, and UDI. That's a down side. Don't get me wrong, I realize the importance of having bureaucracies preventing the free immigration of economic refugees such as myself from running amok in the socialist paradise. But more on that later. Types of work permits
Unless you belong to a touring circus group, you will probably be in the market for one of two types of work permits. Seasonal work
or specialist work.
Briefly, the difference between seasonal & specialist work permits, is that a seasonal permit allows you to work for up to 6 months in agriculture or tourism, without a college degree. A specialist permit requires loads of documentation of education and qualifications, lasts for 1 year, is renewable, and requires at least a 3-year post-secondary degree. Seasonal permits cannot be renewed, so theoretically you'd have to leave the country for 6 months after your permit expired, and apply for a new permit beginning 6 months later (you have to be out of the country for 6 months after your permit expires, before you can re-enter).
There is no law that says you cannot come to Norway on a seasonal permit, and then apply for a specialist permit. The specialist permit is more desireable, since it allows you to stay for a year, time which can be used towards an eventual settlement permit. Settlement permits give rights to work permit-free, so if you're in this for the long-haul, that's what you'd want. Seasonal permits to not
give basis for settlement.
I will mostly be talking about seasonal work
, since it is the most accessible permit for first time applicants. If you've already got an offer for a full-time job that necessarily requires a higher degree, then go for the specialist permit. You should get that pretty easily. This is for the rest of us, who have the inclination, but not the expertise to immediately land an upper level job in Norway. I'm talking about fresh college grads, high school grads, or anyone who wants to work in an area outside
of their qualifications.
Say, for instance, that you want to live & work here
Well the truth is you can.
UDI would have you believe that seasonal work is restricted to berry picking, logging, inhaling pesticides (ok maybe not so sure about that). But you know how it rolls in the US, any
undesirable job is one we gladly relinquish to migrant/immigrant workers. We can't find it in us to scrub our own toilets or harvest our own food, so we pay people pitiful wages to do it for us. Norwegians don't enjoy scrubbing or harvesting any more than the average person who can pay someone else to do it, but being an immigrant looking for seasonal work, UDI will be more than happy to thrust the broom & crate into your hands on the nation's behalf. What I'm getting at, is that we give our immigrants the shit jobs, and so does Norway. UDI overemphasizes agricultural work as a legitimate seasonal occupation, but when you read the website carefully, you'll find that:A seasonal activity is a type of activity which can only be carried out for a limited part of the year, for example the harvesting of vegetables, fruit and berries. This type of work may also arise in industries such as forestry, fishing, market gardens, the restaurant sector and tourism (http://www.udi.no/templates/Tema.aspx?id=7389)
See that squeezed right into the end of the last sentence? Seasonal work can be in the restaurant sector and tourism.
Being a cautious person, it's hard not to look at that and be terribly uncertain as to what work in tourism entails. They don't elaborate on the subject at all! Yet it is made abundantly clear that if you want to stoop over in the strawberry fields all summer, well, that is a possibility! Like I said- more than happy to shift the menial jobs over to the people who'll take them.
It gets even harder if you're not a European Union or European Economic Area citizen. Americans and the rest of the world are prioritized below EU/EEA citizens by employers. In order to hire a foreigner, NAV requires
employers to prove that they advertised the position in Norway and that no one wanted/was qualified for the job, and
that no EU/EEA applicant fulfilled the qualifications for the job.
Tough odds! This takes the competetive edge off being a native English-speaking American!
I get the feeling that this is in many ways simply a formality, one of the many hoops NAV/UDI likes employers to jump through in order to hire a qualified foreigner. If your boss is convinced you are the best applicant for the job, it's quite easy for her/him to oblige NAV by professing your true superiority... despite your foreign status.