16.jan.2008

Well now I've arrived in my wintry paradise, and have begun learning how to do my job, which kind of sucks, but I am slightly consoled by making nearly $200 a day. Slightly better than making $88 a day and getting yelled at in front of my co-workers for mistakes I didn't make.

I've gotten my arbeidstillatelse and skattekort O.K., but I'm still waiting to get a bank account, since the banks close at 3 p.m. Later I'm going to try to register for a fastlege (physician) so that I can start reaping the benefits of gratuitously affordable healthcare. Meanwhile, of course, I'm paying an exorbitant of money for health insurance in the US, since I was denied by a private provider, and have to pay the ridiculously high premiums of the state-run insurance pool.

Work is a nerve-wracking tense affair, in which I try not to make mistakes, and pretend to understand people when they inquire about things I know nothing about. I consider myself to be a competent Norwegian speaker, but at least 4 times a day, I'll run across someone (usually on the phone), who will get incredibly outraged that I didn't understand what they said the first time, or their wierd Norwegian name (no offense to Norwegian names) the first time, and can't be bothered to spell it to me. From my experience, people who lash out at non-native speakers usually have little/no experience with foreigners, have no experience being foreign, or hate foreigners. Since I'm quite culturally blind at this point, I make sense of their offensive behavior by associating them with back-country rednecks who think that having an accent means you're mentally challenged. When a certain elderly Norwegian gentleman insinuated in the most condescending way that I might be speaking a language other than Norwegian to him, I politely suggested the time had come for him to speak with another employee. I wanted to take that back. I felt like telling him that I was doing my best to help him, but that politeness is something that goes both ways.

I understand the frustration, but I don't understand the childish lashing-out.

If you're from the US and have ever called an airline or tech support, you've spoken to people at an Indian call center. I too feel that it can be an extra effort to understand some Indian accents, but if I have a problem with it, I'll take it up with United Airlines or IBM; the companies that hired them.

It's never ok to bitch someone out just because they don't understand you right away. God forbid they ever leave the country and become foreigners themselves!

Within 7 days of your arrival

I have to go the police station when I get to Norway.  I have to go there and have them paste the pretty little permit paper into my passport.  Then I have to go to the skatteetaten (tax office) to get "registered" (i.e., "tagged) and get my tax card for my employer.  Then I suppose I'll want to go get a bank account.  Apparently, giving out paper paychecks is as outdated as Americans actually writing checks... $0.99 for a pack of gum, $3.99 for some popcorn... See, checks are useful! And they often don't show up in your account for weeks.  Though I hate it when you write a check, then someone cashes it when you're completely broke. 

Can someone tell me if the likningskontor is the same as the skatteetat?  I have to report to skatteetaten within 8 days of arrival, but there is a likningskontor in my town, and I don't want to travel for an hour to get to a skatteetat.  I think both these places function as as a folkeregister (population register), so I should be able to get my personnummer or D-nummer (fake social security number for foreigners on short-term stays) there.  Then I can get my bank account. 

Go on

The Hotel Union in Geiranger is looking for 5 serves for the summer season. 

geiranger

Oooh, how pretty!

Looking forward to going to Norway! 

I've been granted the privilege to work!

Yes, my lovers at UDI have granted me a work permit!  Hooray.  I received a letter from them dated three days after the original fax from UDI.  Looks like they granted it approx 1 month and 1 week (35 days) after I sent my app to the general consulate in the US.  Fast, those guys, huh?

But it would appear that the fine people of the UDI Opplysningstjeneste (info line) have absolutely no idea how your application is going.  That is to say, that when you call to "inquire about the status of your application," they have nothing to go on.  I say this because I called them the day they granted the permit, and they told me it had been received, but not processed at all yet.  Either I was the victim of a happy coincidence (i.e., bureaucracy functioning at the speed of light, opening and approving an application in one day), or those people have been just trying to get me off the phone.  *Gasp!*  And I thought they cared about me!

So the "permit" consists of a cover letter from the consulate, basically reiterating the original faxed letter from UDI, which is stapled underneath.  It basically says that the work permit's been granted, that my passport has to be valid for at least 2 months after the expriation of the permit, that I have to enter Norwhey within 1 month of the date on the approval letter, and that I have to go to the po-leece within 7 days of setting foot on rich Norwegian soil. 

Oh yeah, it also says: "Thanks for the $170, suckah!!!!"

Hey, UDI's got bills to pay too!  I turn to the sage American philosophy of "you gotta spend money to make money" in order to justify the dissonant concept of requiring an unemployed person to pay such a sizable job permit fee. 


 Moving on, the delightful skatteetaten has a helpful site in English for foreign workers trying to understand their taxes

It's nice to know that I'll automatically become a member of the nat'l insurance scheme just by entering the country on a work permit.  So long, failed US system!  And don't tell me that the US system is better, because you don't ever have to wait, and you get top-of-the-notch treatment & new technologies without fail, because nearly 50 million uninsured Americans don't have access to this "superior" medical treatment anyway.  Even the people who do have insurance don't always get the best, fastest treatment.  Pretty much the only people getting what others perceive as the best of the best all the time without fail, are the richest of the rich. 

There was a small paragraph saying that if you were already a member of your home country's national insurance scheme, your payments to the Norwegian scheme would be reduced.  I'm a member of my country's failing national insurance scam, does that count? 

It's perplexing to go through all this hassle with immigration in order to 'win' a work permit, when the real work is supposed to be actually working, right?  UDI's really upped the ante!

Because I said so!

Check out this mega-informative powerpoint shown at some UDI seminar in Bergen.  I would've liked to have been there.  Instead of trying to get a job in Norway, I should just work at UDI.  In their "Foreigner Denials" department.  Either that, or I could become an insurance agent in the dear old US of A.  Either way, I could smugly reject other people, while basking in the firm knowledge that I am invincible.  (I was going to say "untouchable," but that means something else, doesn't it).  It'd be like watching high school students suffer throught their SATs (standardized test required for college admission), knowing that that unpleasant part of my existence is over. You know, that pitiful, whiny, needy, vulnerable part.  Yes, at UDI I would be a GOD. 

I'm still at that pitiful, whiny, needy vulnerable stage.  After much wasted time fanangling with those corky fellows at the regional consulate general, and the local police station, it was impressed upon me that the only legit way to apply for a work permit as a non-EU/EEA'er, was to apply from outside of Norway.  Funny, how that fantastic powerpoint says that jeg kan fremme søknaden fra Norge.  Dealing with UDI is like having a hypocritical drunk uncle who says one thing and does another, some days treats you nicely, other days hoists you on a spit over the fire. 

Norwegian police: "Nooo, you can't apply from Norway, silly yank!"
Me: "But your website says I can.  Is there a mistake on the site?"
Norwegian police: "Sure, it says that, but if you try to apply from here...well, we have to send your application to UDI anyway, so it'll take the usual 2 months processing time. 
Me: "2 months? Wouldn't it be quicker to apply from within Norway, rather than having to mail the application first to the consulate, then to UDI?"
Norwegian police: *cough* "Urgh, uh, actually, I can promise you to make it take longer if you apply from here."
Me: "Oh"

See, but ya actually can apply from Norway.  So do yourself a favor and don't take a page out of my book.  Don't be proactive, engaged, and try to be aware of the legal framework.  It'll just get you screwed.  You'll end up like me, having to tell your boss that you'll be there soon (and pray they keep the position open for you), when calling less and asking fewer questions will win you the king's goat, daughter and half the kingdom. 

I contacted UDI a month and a half into my 2 month processing time, and was told that they had recieved my application, but had "not processed it yet." 

I hope that in Norwegu-speak, she really meant to say that they've been working on it, but didn't have an answer yet.  Please tell me that I didn't pay $170 and go 2 months without a paycheck, just to have UDI shelve my application for 6 weeks. 

I'd like to have access to the Kingdom soon, please.  I need to read Nemi, listen to Norwegian pop, and get out of the country until the 2008 presidential election. 

Dear Norway,

Why do you hate me when I love you so much?

Love,

Raeka

Ok, now I just feel bad

http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php?artid=177097

"Irakere med midlertidig opphold i Norge får nå i tur og orden avslag på fornyet oppholdstillatelse. Flere av dem svarer med usedvanlig grove trusler mot UDI-ansatte."

Gawd, how awful do you have to be?  I'd like to take this moment to express my distaste for such threats, and affirm my blog's goal of providing insight (and minor bitching) on UDI policies.  It is never ok to coerce or threaten violence!  Those people are giving immigrants a bad name!

Christmas came early this year

Oooh, check out UDI's new and "improved" policies concerning foreign workers:

Three changes for skilled workers/specialists from outside the EU/EEA area:

  • Skilled workers who are in Norway on a visa can now apply for a work permit from Norway when the visa has been issued for three months or less. Currently it is required that such a visa has been issued for exactly three months for such persons to be able to apply for a work permit from Norway.
  • The police have also been given the power of decision concerning applications for renewal for a new work or a new work place.  The reason for the change is that it is usually common that an employee receives an offer from another employer before the employee?s original work permit expires. The current procedure is that, such an application must be sent to the UDI by the police for processing. This practically increases the application case-processing time.
  • The right to start working with a new employer when an application for renewal of a permit has been submitted.
Ah, allow me to interpret: point one: if you need a visa in order to apply for a Specialist work permit from within Norway, your visa doesn't have to be for 90 days, it can be for a shorter period of time.  Big whoop.  Be assured this will have no bearing on how quote "easy" it is for people from countries with visa requirements to find work in Norway.  There is no rational or logical reason why those visas had to be 90 days before.  It's like saying "in order to save money on laundry detergent, we've decided to wear only one pair of underwear at a time, instead of two!"  Absolutely uneccesary to begin with!

Point two: Instead of sending your application for renewal of your Specialist permit to the efficient powerhouse that is UDI, the police can do it.  This isn't as generous as it sounds.  Basically, if you've already gone through the laborious process of applying for a Specialist's permit, you can renew it (after paying a tidy fee, of course) at the police station.  BFD.

Point three: This is perhaps the most reasonable of the three.  Usually when you apply for a new permit in order to switch jobs, you'd have to wait for approval before you could start your new job.  Remember that the case processing time for specialist permits is four months.  They act like they're being sooo gracious- can you imagine having to support a family as an immigrant, and have to wait four months for an answer, before you can start working again?  What if your previous job falls through before then?  Up sh*t creek without a paddle, I guess.  Oh yeah, and don't forget the tidy fee for getting a new permit.  NOK 1100.

...

The part that really gets my goat (yes, I know it's quite easy), is the very nice new policy for EU/EEA citizens:

The changes imply that, citizens of the EU/EEA for whom the transitional rules apply, can begin to work as soon as they submit an application for a resident permit to the police. This however assumes that, the application is accurately filled and all the requested documents are enclosed.

EU/EEA Specialists do not have to apply for a temporary permit (foreløpig tillatelse) in order to start their jobs.  Non EU/EEA citizens can still expect the unecessary and discriminatory practice requiring that they apply for a temporary permit (approval can take days) at their local police station before starting work.  One doesn't know why should some be given this convenience, and others denied it. 

Additionally, settlement:

The instructions from AID will further lead to a softening-up in relation to skilled workers/specialists who apply for settlement permit in Norway. Settlement permit is a permit which grants the holder the right to live permanently in Norway. The regulation is such that, an employee can apply for such a permit after three years, if they have held a work permit which constitutes grounds for a settlement permit. The current requirement is that the employee should have had the same employer in those three years.

After the instructions from AID, the legislation shall henceforth be interpreted in such way that the period of three years will longer be interrupted when an employee changes an employer. The employee must continue to apply for renewal at the expiration of each permit, but the change of employer will no longer have an effect on the possibility of applying for a settlement permit. The condition is that, the applicant has worked in Norway for three consecutive years.

Colloquially, these two paragraphs say: "Hi, we've decided to stop being completely batshit insane for no reason other than pure whimsy.  Oh dear, is it 2008 already? How time does fly!"

So, before, in order for someone working in Norway on a Specialist permit to get a settlement permit (settlement means no more work permits), they had to work for three consecuitive, uninterrupted years for the same employer.  No matter if he was a dick, no matter if you got treated unfairly; leaving that job would jeopardize your settlement permit.  Now, under the new-and-improved UDI rules, you can *gasp* work for different employers, and still get your settlement permit after three years!  Be still, my heart.  This is a tremendous step forward, that recognizes the rights of foreign workers and gives them due respect & dignity.  Kudos UDI. 

All of these changes take place on January 1, 2008.

If you lose your job

According to UDI, if you lose your job while on a seasonal work permit, you will *eventually* lose your permit.  They wouldn't say when that would be, only that if you haven't applied for a new permit by the time they revoke your old one, you have to leave the country. 

You could probably apply for a number of different permits, if you're dead set on staying in Norway.  I'd just leave.  There's no point in applying for a new seasonal job and a new seasonal work permit, when you can only work in Norway for 6 months a year on that type of permit.  Fair's fair, I suppose.  There really isn't any country in the world with borders flung wide open, with cheery border guards acting as the welcome wagon with fruit baskets and champagne.  Immigration's job is to be a bunch of hard-asses.  Still, seems pretty bitchy to kick someone out right after they lose a job, especially since all they'd be doing is spending money in the country.  Of course it's not right for Norwegians to foot the bill of other countries' unemployed, but it feels so *urgh* to know that if my job doesn't work out, I'm outta there. 

It's tough being an immigration-newcomer.  Everything seems unfair and stacked against me, and of course everything's personal, since I am after all, the only person applying for a work permit right now.  Every new job is a risk... will I like it?  Will my boss be a nut?

I'm fairly confident about this job, though.  My boss seems pretty cool, and I've never been fired from any job before.  Now, if I could only get my work permit...

Btw, the other types of visas/permits you can apply for are: another seasonal work permit, specialist permit, or job searcher's visa.  A job searcher's visa sounds like a crock.  You pay 60 Euros for the privilege of proving to the Norwegian government that you have 550 NOK a day to support yourself while looking for a Specialist job. 

Not interested.  Would rather be out another $500 for a plane ticket home, then wander around Oslo deluding myself into thinking that I could find a job as a Specialist in 90 days. 

When to call UDI

UDI's OTS (info service) isn't good for much. I hope you call with Skype, otherwise you can look forward to paying to listen to "hold" music (v. nice classical stuff.. Grieg maybe?) for the 20 minutes it takes them to answer their phone. I'm beginning to get antsy, with time a-passin' and so on. Dear UDI: when will you grant my work permit? *knock on wood* They say not to call on Monday mornings, and not ever between 11am-1pm, because that's when they have a glorified socialist matpause :D and go to the break room to eat little children, or whatever it is they do while they're not approving my application. UDI's information service is there for your general nagging needs, and will give you updates on your case, if you provide your case number (looks like ABC-1234 567890 12). They say they'll answer questions about how long it takes to process an app, but if we really wanted to know that, we'd read the website like anyone else, wouldn't we? I admit I'm getting a little disgruntled, as time is tic-tocking forward to when my boss wants me to be there. Unfortunately I'm not so indispensable that I can waltz in whenever the feeling moves me. UDI doesn't care though. That's why I think they make the process slow on purpose. It's not like they couldn't figure out how to get people into the country to start their jobs within a reasonable time frame, they merely choose not to. I.e., the door is open, until you try to enter. It's an optical illusion. But I must say, when they actually do answer the phone, the OTS has been very helpful and polite about my application. So props to them, because I'm sure they're not the ones calling the shots, they just answer the phones.

Call upon my lover- UDI Opplysningstjeneste: (+47) 23 35 16 00. Open 9-3:30 M-F, but alas, NOT answering phones between 11-1. Or so they say.

"Want to work in Norway? Not Norwegian? Forget it!"

From http://oikopleura.blogspot.com/2005/11/want-to-work-in-norway-not-norwegian.html

"I used to follow an ex-pat job website for non-Norwegians living in Norway, and just about every week someone would post how they wanted to follow their sweetheart to Norway, this is what they did for a living, and could they find a job here? And the response from the ex-pats, born of hard experience, was NO. It didn't actually matter what you did - if you weren't Norwegian, didn't speak Norwegian fluently, didn't have a Norwegian education, and were seeking a job with a Norwegian company, you had almost no chance of finding work."

"Norway is filled with unemployed and underemployed spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends of Norwegians that have left good jobs in their home countries and cannot find work here. The ugly truth behind this is that deep down Norwegian employers are extremely xenophobic."

"Norwegian industries talk constantly about importing educated talent and the need for it, but when it comes to putting words into action, nothing happens."

Nothing like a little self-doubt to fuel a post.  To pose the unanswerable questions,

DO Norwegian companies blacklist you if you're
  • Not Norwegian?
  • Not fluent?
  • Don't have a degree from a Norweigan University?
What a scary thought!  But could it be true?  The author writes from the perspective of a highly educated professional. I'm guessing PhD.  And of course, I wouldn't know anything about applying for a job as a trained professional.  This is, after all, a blog mainly about seasonal work permits, perhaps later moving on to a Specialist permit, which is what I imagine he was in Norway on. 

I've heard it before- if you're not one of us, if you don't look like us or sound like us, we won't hire you.  Heard it, but chose not to put too much stock in it.  I'm a firm believer in loopholes, and that "if there's a will, there's a way."  I heard from many a Norwegian and American friend, the stories about so-and-so who fell in love with a Norwegian, moved to Norway, and found their college degree (or higher) to be completely useless and unattractive to employers.  Or, what's worse than not finding a job, is being forced to take one that is beneath your skills & education.  Say, a technician working tech support. 

I speak Norwegian fluently, but I am not a Norwegian, nor will I ever be.  I do not know if Norwegian employers are xenophobic.  Those who I have worked for were most certainly not, but for competetive professional positions, I cannot say that it is impossible to imagine a Norwegian employer favoring a Norwegian candidate over a foreign one, simply because they would feel more comfortable with one of their own. 

I have been loath to blame the employer for not hiring me.   I have applied for roughly 5 professional positions with NGOs in Norway that required post-secondary education.  I recieved no calls, no responses from these organizations.  Perhaps I wasn't the right person, perhaps they couldn't wait for a foreign employee or perhaps they already had someone picked out for the job.  The same myriad of reasons for why you didn't get the job exists in Norway as it is in your home country, except now you can add "because I'm a foreigner" to the list.  Yes, it may be harder to get a job overseas, but one should expect that it would be harder. 

I have run across xenophobic Norwegians.  It has been offensive and unpleasant to be on the receiving end of their willful ignorance.  Yes, it's annoying, but people can be that way here in the US as well. 

It makes sense to me that I recieved many call-backs and offers from jobs in tourism.  It's a sector with high turnover, and the pay is low, relative to that of skilled professionals.  It is a sector in which xenophobia is very unlikely to be found.  Who ever heard of the museum owner who hated foreigners, or the hotel that beat the competition by hiring only Norwegian speakers, and only published their website in Norwegian?  It's a multicultural, multilingual workplace by necessity, and those who get squeamish around outsiders are unlikely to go to hotel management school. 

So yeah, I'll report back in 20 years when I've gotten m PhD and am getting turned down for all the hot jobs.  Then I will eat my words.  :)





Extra

Thanks to writers for their comments-

To my mind, it all comes down to a matter of priorities and preference. For me, working in tourism in Norway is a safe financial venture, because my "bottom line" over there is comparatively better than my bottom line over here for the same type of job. Perhaps I've just gotten an exceptionally good job offer, because working in hospitality in Norway will be much, much better for my pocketbook, student loans, (etc) than choosing a similar job here.

A preliminary search for hospitality jobs frequently taken on by young people showed starting wages of $8-$12/hr (NOK 44-66/hr) for employ as waiters, bartenders, receptionists, booking agents, and ski lift workers. The exchange rate is exceptionally bad right now, plus goods just don't cost as much in the US as they do in Norway, so I would guesst that $8-$12/hr translates to NOK 70-100 per hour, when Norway's higher cost of living is taken into consideration.

The wilderness in Norway is so beautiful, the pay so much better for these jobs than here, that I'm willing to go through the necessary hassle of immigration in order to get there. No entry level job in the scenic parts of Vermont, Colorado, Oregon & Washington, and nearby in Canada for that matter- would give me a monthly net (that is to say, my pay after taxes, health insurance, loans, rent, food & phone) that's equal to an entire month's salary of working at the high end of the beginning range, $12/hr here in the US. Yes, plane tickets are expensive, as is setting up a new household, but the prospect of working in the middle of the mountains for double the pay I earned working in a tiny little cubicle (without health insurance, benefits, or much vacation) is very tempting. 

Sure, you can hypothetically earn more and keep more of your earnings working here in the US, if you have the type of job that allows you to do so.  But in terms of societal well-being, I am convinced that we need at least a bare minimum of universal health coverage.  43 million Americans lack insurance, which can sound the death knell of your savings & retirement if you fall seriously ill.  But people like to think it won't happen to them.  None of my co-workers in my old office had health insurance or dental insurance.  At $11-$15 dollars an hour, they simply couldn't afford it.  They had convinced themselves that they didn't want it.  "I'm healthy, and I'm not going to throw away that money (on health insurance)," a co-worker once told me.  This is how much of America lives.  You cannot support a family of two spouses earning $15 an hour.  Yet the minute anyone mentions the words "universal" and "health care," most white collar private sector workers will berate you for trying to take away their freedom, of trying to let 'useless, overstuffed bureaucracy' misspend more of their hard-earned cash.  These are people who lean right.  They're fine with billions of their 'hard earned' tax dollars being spent to fight a war that does nothing to improve their quality of life.  This outlook stems, as I've said before, from the ungrounded optimism that they will one day be the CEO, the top dog, and they don't want to be taking care of those lazy leeches who want other people to pay for their health care.  It's the illusion in America that if you work hard enough, you will one day reach the top, and when you do, you'll want to keep all your earnings, not be forced to pay for other people's health care (which they should be doing for themselves, if they were working hard at all!).  The richest among us know the value of perpetuating this myth: it means they can continue to exploit the poor.  My co-workers refused to stick up for themselves, their right to be healthy, and their right to earn livable wages.  Maybe they don't have time, or have lost the motivation.  Either way, we're told to keep climbing the ladder....

Arbeidsinnvandring 2006 continued

Another interesting article on 2006, incl. # of work permits granted to non-EU citizens.  Could that 55,000 from the earlier article really be only from EU countries?  55,000 sounds like a lot, enough to be the total number of permits.  Interesting that only 662 Specialist work permits were approved in 2006.  I wonder how many total applications there were, and how many renewals.  I believe the quota for Specialist permits is 400 to 500 per year, and that it has never been filled. 

Winds of change?

Work permit delays under fire - Aftenposten


An informative article from Sept 18, 2007 on one temp recruiting agency's frustration with the painstakingly slow work permit process. Officially, a seasonal visa takes 2 months to process, but add at least another month on to that for the total time before an employee can start working. The employer has to send an "offer of employment," which has to be included in your application to your regional consulate (where it will then be sent back overseas to UDI in Oslo). Mail takes about 5-7 days to reach the US from Norway.

I don't know if employers' frustration is enough to urge the process along. I doubt employers will be given the power to issue permits... that is at best a distant possibility. What's more likely, is that the approval time will be shortened for non EU countries.

From what I've read, the long waiting times are not accidental. I can't believe that it honestly takes 60 days to stamp "yes" on an application, when you include a copy of your passport, letters of reference, 2 pictures, a job offer, resume and transcripts. No doubt the waiting time and the fee are part of weeding out those who will not or cannot wait, or whose employers will not wait for them. I can see letting employers grant work permits as being problematic- what if you want your good friend to come over and "work" for you? It could be abused as a ploy to get family members over, who lack sustainable livelihoods. Yes, I think it's important that UDI, or at least the local police station, be able to scrutinize applications and make unbiased decisions regarding immigration.

So why does it take two months? Are they just busy?

UDI approved some 55,000 work permits last year (2006) for EU/EEA countries alone. Multiply 5 X 52 for the total number of working days, and subtract 20 days from that total, to give a generous estimate of holidays per year.

5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 working days.
Subtract 20 holidays/non-working days = 240 working days per year.

55,000 EU/EEA work permits granted in 2006 / 240 working days pr. year = 229 permits approved per day.

The 55,000 includes construction, seasonal, specialist, au pair, journalist, athletic, student part-time, oil rig (and yes, circus) work permits. One in three permits was granted for construction work. Other popular sectors include ship maintenance, sales, restaurants and hospitality. 39,000 of these 55,000 permits were granted to Poles (71%). 19% went to Lithuanians, and 3% to Latvians. Construction and Healthcare/Nursing are the sectors where workers are most needed.   Source: http://www.udi.no/templates/Uttalelse.aspx?id=8711

Two hundred and twenty nine permits approved per day, just to the EU/EEA countries. Not bad. That's not including all the applications they turn down, either. 2 months is a bit more understandable from this angle.  229 permits per day... I wonder how many people are working on it right now at UDI. 229? :D

Sukk

Can someone tell me

If this skatteberegning calculates just your income tax, or all of your taxes? 

Also,

Inntektsskat kommune = "state" income tax
Inntektsskat fellesskat = federal income tax
Trygdeavgift loenn = medical insurance, social services (?)

What else is covered by the trygdeavgift?

Thanks!!

Did you know that when you go on vacation, capitalism breaks down?

When you go for an interview, the best question to ask first is "how much vacation do I get?" Forget all this "what will I be responsible for" and other such frivolous nonsense. You really just want to know when you can leave this crackpot job and do what you actually like to do.

Norway's a freak of nature in that they haven't realized that when you go on vacation, the entire capitalist economy falls apart. I mean, it were possible to take more than 1 week off per year, don't you think enterprising Americans would have come up with it first? I can't wait until all those Norwegians sunning themselves at their summer cabins wake up 6 weeks into their holidays and realize their entire economy has spiraled and collapsed. Don't they know that you have to work 40 hours a week, 51 weeks per year, in order to keep the economy vibrant? Those losers, someone should really tell them what's up.

I always wondered why Norwegians seem in general, less anxious and well... more happy than Americans. Perhaps the 4 weeks + 1 day of mandatory vacation has something to do with it. I can't imagine my old boss saying "gee, you've worked really hard, and I really appreciate how you helped me make that $200,000 this month... you deserve a vacation! Here, take 4 weeks, and what's more, I'll pay you to go! Get out of my sight! Enjoy yourself!"

*slaps self in face with wet fish* Ohhh right. Right. My last job, I was working 40 hrs/week for just over minimum wage (min. wage in the US buys you a very nice cardboard box, and perhaps some discounted lil' debbies'), NO benefits, and here's the corker: I'd get one whole week of paid vacation at the end of one whole year! Oh boy! No wonder drug companies are doing so well. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want to toke up, knowing that they had to spend 30% of their waking life with my boss.

As a foreign worker in Norway, you will be entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks + 1 day of paid vacation per year, including your first year. This is the minimum, the starting point. And you can't not take it. You have to go. If you didn't you'd have what we have here, where employees fall all over themselves to be the best martyr, the sacrificial goat of the company (i.e. "of course, boss, I'd like to get ahead, so I won't go on vacation... just promote me, and effectually penalize those who do take a healthy dose of time off). You are allowed at least 18 days of uninterrupted vacation during the summer months, and entitled to full pay plus 10.2% of your salary as feriepenger (holiday cash).




Norwegian resort jobs

Høvringen Høyfjellshotell is looking for a cook for the winter season. Høvringen is near Rondane and Jotunheimen national park, a beautiful area. They are also looking for a full-time winter receptionist, as well as servers starting Feb 1, 2008.

Fefor Høyfjellshotell in Vinstra (Gudbrandsdalen) is looking for a cook/kitchen assistant and a receptionist/booking agent

Vallhall Eiendom Krøttøy near Lofoten in Northern Norway is looking for a hotel receptionist and cook to start March 19,2008. This job ad is in English.

Storefjell Hotel in Gol, Buskerud (4 hrs north of Oslo) is looking for 4 servers with knowledge of a Scandinavian language

Fretheim Hotel in the beautiful Sognefjord on the west coast needs 6 servers starting in April 2008.

Rondane Spa is looking for 2 waiter-bartenders who speaks English (preferably also a Scandinavian language, though it is not required) to start ASAP. This job ad is in English.

Hindseter Fjellhotell
is looking for a cook- kitchen assistant with or without formal training. Norwegians and foreigners encouraged to apply.

UDI = INS = Love

Wow there are SO many travel/work/study abroad blogs. And here I was thinking I'd come up with something new. Hope it's useful down the line for someone looking to work in Norway anyway. Thought it'd be better to be specific than general. Been thinking about the fact that UDI is Norway's INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services). I think UDI is unbearably slow, stuffy and bureaucratic, but I certainly wouldn't trade it for the INS.

I can't imagine what it must be like for people who want to work in the US. You run the whole gamot of kicking out illegal immigrants, to forcing doctors and psychologists to work as medical aides or worse. The idea of doctors from India traveling to the US to be told that their degrees are completely useless is just so humiliating. 'Hey, so, the last 25 years that you spent in school? Out the window!' Get recertified. But that's really the attitude towards immigrants here- we're going to pretend that your credentials aren't good enough, just to beat you down a little further.

We totally know that our country wouldn't function if we got rid of all the illegals here. There are places in all big cities, vacant lots, where Mexican day laborers gather each morning to stand and wait for some random farm owner to come by and offer them a day's work for a pittance. We don't seem to care about people, we only want them for their labor- and we want them when we want them. Just the other day, republican governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, was lambasted by his GOP counterparts for supporting a bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state schools. I suppose the repubs would rather have it that the children of illegal immigrants be deprived of an education that might lift them into educated, higher-contributing members of society. Their official line is that since illegals don't pay taxes, they shouldn't get the in-state discount on education. But underlying this argument is the perverse desire to humiliate these people further, to keep kicking them down, ensuring that they never become the active, healthy, educated & contributing members of society that the repubs criticise them for not being. Want a leg up? No chance in hell America.

No matter how much I tear into UDI for being slow lazy bastards, nothing they've done comes close to our shameful treatment of fellow human beings.

Writing your job application

For the hotel jobs, I wrote a cover letter and fine-tuned it as I went. I changed the company's name and address at the top of the letter and throughout. If you're applying for many of the same type of position, write just one good cover letter. You can expend the energy to tell them more about yourself in the interview. The format of my Norwegian letter went like this:




Name

Street address

City, State Zip code USA

+1(000)000-0000

my@email.com

._________________________________________________ City 4 desember 2007

Kari Nordmann

Norway Hotel

0851 OSLO

Søknad på (name of position)stilling

In the first paragraph, I mentioned how I found the job ad, briefly introduced myself, and explained why I was interested in the position.
In the second paragraph, I explained how skills gained through my education would be useful to the position and to the company
In the third paragraph, I showed how my previous work experience would make me a suitable candidate for the job, and conclude by re-stating my interest in the job.

Finally, I invited them to view my attached resume, and listed my phone # and e-mail, should they want to contact me for an interview.

Vennlig hilsen,

Name



Nearly all of the job ads required a søknad, which is to say, a cover letter. The Norwegian cover letter varies from the standard American one in several ways.

  • First, Norwegian cover letters are more prone to begin with how you found the position.
  • Since you are applying from out of country, it is important to put your country code in front of your phone number (remember to do this on your resume too).
  • I gathered that the date is written as "Oslo 4 desember 2007" rather than simply writing the date, which we'd do here.
  • After the address of the recipient, write in bold print what position your application is for. Formatting probably varies according to the job, but I've observed this format quite often.
  • "Vennlig hilsen" corresponds to "Sincerely" when closing a cover letter. It connotes the appropriate level of regard and formality as "sincerely."
Some stock phrases I've found useful:

Jeg viser til annonse... - I'm writing in response to the advertisment....
Om nærmere opplysning viser jeg til... - For further information, please see... my resume, etc.
Om ønskelig stiller jeg gjerne til telefonintervju... - I would be very happy to schedule a telephone interview...

This is a basic guide on the format and content of an American cover letter

SoYouWanna write a cover letter? was very useful for me

Read Dagbladet's Hvordan skrive jobbsøknad

When writing your cover letter, focus on selling yourself. These people don't know the first thing about you. Help them to see that you're the perfect person for the job. Don't apply for jobs you don't want- it'll be harder to write a convincing cover letter, the interview will be harder, and you'll probably hate the job. Read the job ad carefully and scour the hotel's website to glean as much as possible about the hotel and the position. By all means, search for blogs, facebook groups & myspace pages by employees and see if they like their job- or not. Tailor your letter to fit the criteria that the employer's looking for: if they want someone with strong language skills, emphasize that. Your job isn't to provide them with a complete picture of you and your abilities, but to assure them that you have what they need, and that you would be a problem-solver instead of a liability. Don't believe it when people say that an employer is just as nervous going into an interview as the interviewee- that's bull. They're nervous about making the wrong choice, about missing the signs that you're really a crazy person. Meet them on that level, and show them that you're everything they need, and nothing they don't.

We get it: not everybody can write!

Anyone seen the last two episodes of Desperate Housewives? Last night was a real stinker. It's like Marc Cherry sat around by himself and wrote the script. In "behind the scenes," you see Cherry sitting in a room full of writers, bouncing ideas off each other. The ongoing demise of the show is what we get when the show's producers try to push on like nothing's happened. The Writers' Guild strike has been going on for more than a month now, and if it has taught us anything, it's that not everybody can write. We get it, guys. Give them a raise. Give them a mercedes. Just please come back! Seriously. The last episode of Grey's Anatomy? Pretty much all of the ABC shows? It's like the people filling in wanted to do as much damage to the show as possible, just to make it harder for the writers when they come back. Tornado on Wisteria lane? Victor Lang getting whacked off the boat? They'll have more than a set to rebuild when the writers return...

This place is just the cutest

I wish I could work two places at once. I found this hotel a few months ago, but they didn't have any openings then. Now they have openings for receptionists, bartenders and in the ski shop. What a cute place! I wouldn't go so far as to say I wish I didn't already have a job, but this place is the perfect size, in the most beautiful surroundings in Gålå. Never been there, but it looks *amazing.* I get the impression that it's close to Jotunheimen... anyone been there who could tell me how big that town is?

The couple that owns it is just incredibly cute. Looks like a wonderful place to work.

gala

Processing times for work permits

This just pisses me off. It's not enough that employers have to beg and plead in order to hire someone outside of EU/EEA, but 95% of EU/EEA applicants get their work permits processed by the local police stations, which I'm guessing do a faster job than the udi bloat-ocracy in Oslo. I know it's basically their job to make it difficult for people to enter the country, but most businesses in Norway actually wish it was easier to get foreigners over here. Supposedly the winds of change are blowing in Norway, and the next few years might show some easing up on the difficulty of obtaining a permit.

So not only do you (and I mean non EU/EEA ppl here) have to apply from your home country if you're not already in Norway (they frown upon people traveling to Norway and then applying for a permit, and the person at my local police station even hinted in a call that she'd go out of her way to delay my application if I came to Norway first and then applied), but we're prioritized to the back of the line by being sent to the main UDI office. I grant you it's much easier to simply get approved by your local police station, rather than be filed in with the rest of the hopeless cases at UDI. What a pile of poo.

It seems like the work permit hierarchy goes like this:
  1. Nordic citizens- Sweden, Denmark, Finland (?) require NO work permit
  2. European Union/ European Econ. Area citizens get work permits approved by local police station (& quickly)
  3. USA & other countries without a visa requirement to enter Norway apply from home country - wait 2 months before entry
  4. Countries with visa requirements to enter apply before entry, and cannot under any circumstances apply for seasonal work permits from Norway.
Both 3 & 4 may apply for specialist work permits from Norway.


So we're not at the bottom of the pit, but they've put up some seriously significant barriers to foreign workers. Here's the truth: most of the foreign workers in seasonal hospitality jobs in Norway come from Sweden. The US ranks among the top 3 countries with the most Specialist work permits granted per year. Fewer barriers to importing skilled labor, regional favoritism for seasonal positions.

The real dig in the ribs is that Americans have to wait 2 months from the time of receiving their job offer, before they can even travel to Norway. Once there, they can begin work, but how many employers want to wait 2 months for a seasonal hire to show up? I once read a FAQ on a mountain lodge's website that asked: "Why are so many of your employees Swedish?" The reply was that not many Norwegians wanted to work in the mountains, and that Swedes sent 70% of the applications they received.

Working in Norway is a terribly attractive option for young scandinavians: they don't need a work permit, and therefore don't pay a $170.00 fee, they don't need to ask their employer to wait 2 months for them to start work, and the Norwegian crown is still slightly stronger than the Swedish one. A Swede presents as a highly desirable candidate, due to language similarities, her/his availability, proximity and lack of tedious paperwork.

But do not despair, my friends! A native English speaker can be the crown jewel of an international staff, and our native competency is always in demand! If you speak German to any degree, it will only be to your advantage, as the Norwegian tourism industry serves mainly Germans, Danes, Swedes, and Brits. I read that Swedes are Norway's most frequent tourists, followed by Germans, Brits and Danes.

Although a potential employer may have to wait up to 2 months for us, a good interview and happy circumstance can convince them that you're well worth the wait! Play your language skills to your advantage, and emphasize your worldlyness (how's that spelled?) as essential to dealing with those barbaric tourists ! :D

Applying for jobs

Thought I'd write about my experience applying for jobs in Norway. All together in the past year, I've applied for 30+ positions in Norway in both the private and public sector, organizations, businesses, and hotels. Some of these were permanent full time jobs, others were for seasonal work. About 1/3 of them were related to my degree (and required a degree), and the other 2/3 required language skills, but not higher ed. Out of the 30-so applications, I got 4 interviews and 3 job offers. It was much harder to get the attention of employers looking for educated workers, than it was to capture the interest of employers in the tourist industry. I am going to focus on my recent efforts to secure seasonal & permanent work in the tourism sector.

After quitting my underpaid grunt job at a local business where I literally counted the minutes in the morning until my boss launched into her usual humiliating and emotionally abusive tirade, I began to consider what I could be doing if I wasn't wasting away for $90 bucks a day building someone else's empire. Stuck in a rut, I immediately looked for similar jobs, thinking that since I didn't have a speciality, any office job would be good enough. Luckily, I realised before it was too late that there was a whole world of opportunity I had yet to explore. That's when I began wondering what it might be like to surrounded by the overwhelming natural beauty of Norway, rather than by petty nincompoops in cubicles.

Ah, yes, well, I'd give it all up for a little more, as they say. Imagine leaving the office and entering this every day:


Utpa tur vinter1
Tuddal in Telemark

Over the course of the fall, I sent out 22 applications to various hotels, høyfjellshotell (alpine hotel) and ski centers advertising positions on NAV and finn. About half of the positions I found were not advertised on these major job websites, but were found by doing google searches for various combinations of the following terms:

  • stilling, stillingannonse
  • sesong, vintersesong
  • hotel, hotell, høyfjellshotell, seter, sæter
  • ledig stilling, ledige stillinger
  • engelsk, english, engelskkunnskaper, engelsktalende
  • These terms were combined with different hospitality job titles

To be continued...

Skuffa! How disappointing!

I just noticed that FrP now has an english version of their site. I remember any translations into other languages being conspicuously absent from FrP's website. Isn't it funny that the Fremskrittsparti seems to contain more blond white people than any other Norwegian party? I think I like Arbeiderpartiet, but that may or may not be directly connected to the charms of Jens Stoltenberg. Kidding, people, kidding. But I wouldn't be one to turn down a rose from him. :D

FrP's said some pretty nasty stuff about immigration though. They're pretty much our Bill O'Riley, but hopefully without the sexual harassment suit. I like how their name, "the Progress Party" sounds suspiciously like "the Progressive Party," but in reality is miles away... Kind of like how some americans are shitting their pants right now over Ron Paul, when in fact the only liberty he really stands for is his own. You know, I get that Libertarians stand for smaller government and expansive personal freedoms, which is all very sexy, but a mere half hour foray into Ron Paul's libertarianism (and most libertarians' libertarianism for that matter) is based on delusions of future greatness upon which personal freedom desperately depends. Like all these people earning $10 an hour for their corporate bosses are one day going to be top dog, and therefore need freedom from taxes and the security of the community, because gawddammit, they're invincible young white males without uteruses, obligations, families, or the need for the FDA, roads, police, or fire department. Say we take Ron Paul's lead and go back to 1840 when states' rights reigned supreme. Aaah, abortion would be illegal, it would still be ok to lynch black people, and oh, ladies, don't even think about voting. I'm sorry, but in recent American history, states' rights has in fact, translated directly to majority rule, which in effect means no minority rights. Mmmm, but no, Ron Paulites harp his objection to the Iraq war, forgetting all the other crap he really stands for.

Ah, well, I guess every country's got their nut jobs.

Hee hee

So I'm working on a new and improved "saksgang for utenlandske arbeidere" with the help of photoshop. You know, that pretty yellow image from the udi website that gives you a logical and straightforward outline of how the process is supposed to work. It's cute, really. Imagine if it really was as easy as they make it seem.


Saksgang_utenlandsk_arbeidstaker_eng copy


Golly. So it's Sunday night, which means that it's Monday morning in Norway. I asked the lady at UDI last time I called when the best time was to call to avoid being put on hold. Stifling what was surely the most enticing answer: "never!" she told me that on Monday mornings there's always a queue. Do you ever get the feeling that they wait on purpose to answer the phone? Like you know you're not wanted, but that they don't want you to forget it? Kind of like a battle of the wills, where you won't hang up, but they wont' answer your call until they're sure they've reminded you who's boss?

Back to the saksgang... I've been working on my ironic version of the chart, which will include all the flips and turns missing from UDI's version. I'm thinking of creating several new "man" icons, in which an immigration officer kicks an applicant in the crotch upon attempted entry into the country, or makes snide remarks like "better luck next time," or "close, but no cigar."

What do you think?

Cheap cheap tickets

Being unemployed and searching for work overseas is a big financial risk. If you're currently raking in cash & looking for work in Norway as a lark, then goody goody for you. >:D

But even if you have a job, it's always good to be cheap, right? Here are some ways I've come across that will help you pinch the pennysworth out of your rapidly devaluing currency.

Airfare

If you're leaving for Norway for seasonal work, you'll be flying either in the fall through early winter (oct-nov-dec-jan), or in late spring (may-june) for summer assignments. Naturally, the cheapest time to fly is when no one else wants to go to Norway either, around october/november. Spring tickets will inevitably cost you more, as airtravel increases, people go on easter holidays or early summer vacations.

  • For Fall tickets, expect to pay:
    • East Coast to OSL: $400-$700
    • Midwest to OSL: $550-$750
    • West Coast to OSL: $650-$850

  • For Spring tickets, expect to pay:
    • East Coast to OSL: $600-$800
    • Midwest to OSL: $700-$850
    • West Coast to OSL: $800-1000
Here are some useful tips to avoid getting ripped:
  • Please steer clear of travelocity, you will almost always pay at least $100 more for the exact same ticket
  • Check out vayama.com , which specializes in int'l travel. Has low prices.
  • Travelagentfares.com is a new find that has great direct flights from East & West coast cities to Frankfurt on Lufthansa (very nice airline), with connections to OSL with SAS, another high quality airline. One of the **cheapest** discount sites I've found.
  • Try the airfare search engine kayak to get a ballpark figure for your trip. Kayak has an easy interface, no pop-up ads, and searches many carriers that fly from the US to Norway.
  • Kayak will often recommend airfare.com as the company with the cheapest overall fares, but please note that airfare.com charges $350.00 smackers to change the date on your international ticket. Though it pains me to recommend airfare.com, I will, but only to those who are absolutely certain of their travel dates.
  • Check what it costs to change your ticket before buying from any online discount site. With things as highly variable as work permits and seasonal employment, it is worth it to know that you can change your ticket for a reasonable fee, without effectively purchasing a new one. Airfare discounters love it when people have to change their tickets. It's like a free $300. It's how they stay so cheap in the first place.
  • Research fares and purchase tickets on weekdays, never friday/saturday/sunday, as fares go up on weekends at least $50. Don't be fooled by the artificial sense of urgency that good salespeople are known for. Come Monday, you'll find that your ticket has magically dropped down $50 to the regular fare.
  • Buy your ticket at the earliest two months before departure. Don't be afraid of chancing it on last minute fares, as airlines are often desperate to rid themselves of remaining tickets, and many good deals can be found.
  • The cheapest travel days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Beware of bad customer service. Online discounters often suck at helping their customers. Sometimes it's worth the extra $100 to go through orbitz or priceline
  • Midwest and East coast travellers should check out icelandair's great fares to Oslo during fall, winter and early spring. Tickets are available from places such as cheapoair for as little as $550 round trip in April.
  • For the love of god, get an aisle seat! And don't give it up! Never!
  • Depending on your destination, consider flying to TRF Sandefjord airport (S. of OSL), Stavanger or Bergen. Remember Norway's terrific public transportation, and go for the cheapest airport with the best connections to your destination.
  • In-country flights are cheapest (and very comfortable, I might add) on norwegian, but SAS offers more departures per day than norwegian does. If you must go through SAS, be sure to order a youth ticket (ungdomsbillett) if you are under 25. Though they have limited discounted departures per day, you can get a ticket for around NOK 750 one way. Click the tab "bestill ungdomsbillett" on the flysas.no main page.
  • I hear that ryanair flies to TRF Sandefjord (south of OSL) for reel cheep from many European cities. Fares start at around 79 Euros.

Calculate your taxes!

Membership to the socialist paradise is going to cost you around 24% of your annual income, if you are earning a typical entry level salary of NOK 250.000 a year.

Click here to calculate your income tax based on dependents, debt etc. The form can be completed in English by selecting that option once the Java window has loaded. Be sure that you specify your total debt, including school loans. This can lower your taxes.

One of the nice things about seasonal work in tourism and hospitality, is that your employer often times will provide you with kost og losji, room and board at a discounted rates. So instead of spending 1/3 of your income on food & rent, you can save a lot more. From my experience, restaurant and hotel workers can expect to pay NOK 1.000-3.500 per month in rent. Keep in mind that the NOK 1.000 lodgings aren't exactly the Hilton penthouse suite, but likely involve a shared bath and minimal/no cooking facilities. For employee lodgings that cost upwards of $3.500 a month, expect your own bathroom, full kitchen, and washing machine. Hotels offer discounted meals to their employees, whether it's in the form of personalmat (not-very-fancy casserole or stew made by the cooks specially for workers) or discounts on full price fare. Expect to pay between NOK 25-50 per meal, or buy monthly meal plans ranging from 1 meal a day to 2. These cost roughly NOK 1.000-1.500 per month. Seasonal employees who don't have the lay of the land shouldn't try to rent locally on the private market- it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll pay more and have to live further from your place of work.

If you plan on applying for specialist status before your seasonal permit runs out, check out local rentals through the papers, finn.no's rental search or consider renting privately with your co-workers.

Can ya dig it?

Poo. I find myself so listless ever since my lover at UDI reminded me last night that seasonal work applications actually do take two months... so I vowed not to call for 2 weeks, so that I don't look desperate, and so that I don't piss off the karma gods who will place my application at the back of the queue out of pure spite. And here I was thinking that when they say it takes two months, they meant other people. Other people, of course. Not me. We always think statistics apply to other people, never to us. And then when we discover that we are part of the masses, we feel all victimized and singled out, even though most of what we experience really does happen to just about everyone. Except Paris Hilton, I've noticed. Have you seen that surprisingly attractive Swedish model/pizza delivery boy she always has with her? They never hold hands or anything, and he walks 5 paces behind her, so it's hard to tell what's going on there. Whatever. I was just going to say that not every 26 y.o. gets to date a 20 yr old with amazing hair. He's way too good looking for her.

But I digress. As for me and UDI, it's like when you break up with someone and swear that you won't call them no matter what, even if it kills you. Suffice to say, this feverish denial at once results in thinking about them more, fixating... obsessing... about not calling.

Outsider/insider

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:

Unbearably Demented Idiots
Ubelievably Dull Imbeciles
Unintelligent Dipshit Illiterates
Unreasonably Demanding Idiots

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
  • Safe
  • 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
Downsides:
  • 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:sognefjord
Sognefjord

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.

Cynical, me?

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.

So, you want THIS...

norwaypretty

But in order to get  it, you have to go through THIS....

udilogo

Ugh.  But that's the whole premise of this blog. 

If you're over 18, not related to anyone with Norwegian citizenship, not a citizen of Sweden, Denmark or Finland, not interested in studying at a Norwegian university and can't seek political asylum (economic asylum doesn't count), then you're in the boat with the rest of us lucky souls who have the privilege of mobility, but don't have the means or connections to live in Norway. 

This is for you.  And it's for me.  Let's just be honest, I get a bit of a kick out of sharing my experiences with the immigration process.  Not that it's fun or anything, but I just wish I'd found a page that told me what to expect, what to do, and where to find information when I really needed it.  I want to create that page now, with all the insight of hindsight. 
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