A historic day in Norwegian-Russian relations

Bjarne Håkon Hanssen

-Russians are welcome to Norway, the Norwegian Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion said when presenting the new Norwegian white paper on work immigration today. The new Norwegian legislation might mark a historic point in Norwegian-Russian cross-border relations


Bjarne Håkon HansenThe new Norwegian legislation will open up for extensive Russian labour immigration to northern Norway. Minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen also stressed that general travel conditions for Russians visiting Norway will undergo considerable improvements.

Working force welcome

In his presentation of the white paper in the Kimek Yard in Kirkenes, Norway, today, Minister Hanssen said that qualified Russian workers will be given full permission to work in Norwegian companies. Also people with regular high-school level education will be allowed into Norwegian companies. These companies will however in advance need special state approval. In addition, Russian students in Norwegian universities and colleges will be allowed a 6-month work permission in Norway before returning to Russia.

Easier travelling

In his presentation, the minister also stressed that travel conditions for Russians visiting Norway will be significantly improved. From now on, Russian second-time visitors to Norway will not need visa invitations, a requirement which until now has created major red tape on the Norwegian side.

Minister Hanssen also confirms that a so-called “border citizen certificate”, giving special travel rights to the people living in the border areas, is under consideration. The certificate will be discussed by Mr. Hanssen and his Russian counterpart in Moscow in June this year. The issue will also be addressed by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre in his upcoming meetings with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov in Kirkenes this June.

Invitation to Russia

The new Norwegian regulations could attract a number of Russian across the border to northern Norway. However, Minister Hanssen believes that the movement of work force could in few years turn the other way, from Norway to Russia, in connection with major investment projects like the Shtokman project. He encouraged his Russian counterparts to take similar measures like the ones now presented in Norway in order to facilitate both-way movement of work force.

The minister also underlined that Norwegian labour control authorities will keep a close eye on the developments and hit hard on companies seeking to benefit on social dumping.

Read the whitepaper at the Norwegian government website (in Norwegian)

Read also:

Russian labour for northern Norway BarentsObserver, 18 April 2008