Norwegian business wants easier recruiting of Russian workers

Many Russians are employed in the fish farming industry in Northern Norway.

Today’s regulations for work permits for people from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are too rigid. They need to be changed in order to make it easier to recruit workers from Russia, local businesspeople in Kirkenes say.


In a meeting in Kirkenes yesterday local business met with representatives from Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to discuss the body of rules concerning recruitment of Russian workers.

Today’s regulations make it possible to hire unskilled workers from the Russian parts of the Barents Region to work in the three northernmost counties of Norway.  This is a special regulation only related to the Barents region and is only possible as long as labour is not available in Norway or from the EEA area.  Russians can according to these regulations be granted residence permits for up to two years, something local businesspeople in Kirkenes believe is too short:

“Two years is far too short a period to train people to work in the mining industry”, said Human Resources Manager at Sydvaranger Gruve AS Trine Rohde, adding that language problems and differences in Norwegian and Russian work culture also have an impact on the time it takes.

Local business is also interested in taking advantage of the recently established visa-free travel for inhabitants in the Norwegian-Russian border area.  

“I would like to see special regulations for the borderzone that would make it possible to hire people directly from Russia without going through the EEA system”, said Manager at Kirkenes Processing Terje Meyer. “For us it would be very practical to hire “local” Russians” he said.

Kirkenes Processing is a fishfarming plant organically producing salmon just a few kilometers from the Russian border.

Head of UDI’s Division of Visa, EEA, Labour and Study Permits Hanna Krange listened to the suggestions from the local businesspeople but underlined that it is not her Directorate’s role to change the regulations:

“We are set to enforce the existing regulations, and we are here in Kirkenes to present and explain them to people. But we have also come to listen to what experiences the employers’ have and will bring on their complaints and suggestions to the Ministry of Labour”.