Norway has, next to the Netherlands, experienced the largest increase in the arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe in 2008. So far this year more than twice as many asylum seekers has arrived compared to the same period of last year. 60 per cent of the applications for asylum are rejected. In 2007 Norway received 6 500 asylum seekers and this year around 15 000 arrivals are expected. The main reason for the increase are developments in the home countries of the asylum seekers. How the Norwegian asylum policy is perceived, especially in comparison with comparable countries like Sweden, may also explain the distribution of asylum seekers to various European countries.
The Government is concerned with protecting the right of asylum for refugees, and with the rapid inclusion of those granted protection into the Norwegian society.
– It is therefore necessary to take measures to decrease the number of arriving asylum seekers who do not meet the conditions for protection, says Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion Dag Terje Andersen.
Before the summer the Government announced several measures to reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving in Norway. Among other measures, the subsistence requirement was restricted and the Dublin II Regulation was applied more widely. This regulation puts the responsibility for the asylum application in the state where the applicant first applied for asylum, unless the applicant has family members residing legally in another state. The Government is now proposing additional measures to reduce the number of arrivals:
To assess the question of humanitarian grounds, each case shall be examined individually, and not undergo a general group assessment based on the particular geographical area.
Lack of link to a particular geographical area, shall not be conclusive when it comes to accessing the internal flight alternative, there have to be other strong humanitarian grounds for granting residency.
Norwegian asylum and immigration policies are determined by the Norwegian authorities. Norwegian practice shall as a main rule harmonize with practices in other comparable countries, both today and in the future.
Norway’s assessment of cases under the Dublin II regulations will be harmonized with practices by other member states to the effect that Norway does not make general exceptions from the regulations unless there are particular reasons to do so. An individual assessment shall be carried out concerning applicants who are to be returned to Greece and unaccompanied minors.
Persons who have been granted residency on humanitarian grounds must have four years of education or work experience in Norway to be granted family reunification with existing or new family members. The same conditions apply for those who have been granted refugee status, but only related to family establishment. Persons with permits granted on the basis of a job offer in Norway and citizens of the EU/EEA, are exempt from these conditions, and other exemptions can also be made under special circumstances.
Based on an individual assessment, temporary residency without the right to renewal can be granted to unaccompanied minors who are 16 years or older and today are given residency simply because Norwegian authorities cannot locate their parents/family.
When establishing a practice contrary to UNHCRs recommendations concerning protection, the changes should as a main rule be put forward to the Grand Board of the Immigration Appeals Board, unless the new practice has been put down by instructions from the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the responsibility for negotiating a readmission agreement with Iraq. This shall be given priority. The conditions for entering into such an agreement and the budgetary consequences shall be further investigated.
The Government will intensify efforts to negotiate readmission agreements with the main countries of origin for persons who are in Norway illegally.
Further investigation will be one into the possibilities of faster procedures for asylum applicants who do not contribute to disclose their identity.
Fingerprints shall be taken of all applicants who cannot document their identity or are suspected of having a false identity.
A proposition for regulations to limit the meetings in the Immigration Appeals Board only to issues that are essential for the result of the cases will be sent on a public hearing.
A fast track procedure for particular groups where there are a high percentage of rejections will be established. This is conditional of cooperation between all government bodies needed in the process.