The changes aim to bring Norway’s policies more in line with other Nordic countries and prevent excessive pressure on municipalities.
The Norwegian government maintains firm support for Ukraine while requiring refugees to work more. However, revised rules reduce certain benefits.
Norway Seeks Sustainable Refugee Arrivals from Ukraine
Over half of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Nordic countries seek protection in Norway.
Norway’s Labour and Social Inclusion Minister Tonje Brenna said that Norway will keep accepting displaced Ukrainians but must control immigration.
Brenna stated that the high influx strains municipal services and is unsustainable long-term.
By tightening benefits and services, Norway can receive Ukrainians in a measured way.
Key Changes Reduce Financial Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Several key policy changes will restrict aid for Ukrainian refugees:
- No more financial support for Ukrainians staying outside asylum centers
- No state funding for pets in asylum centers
- Five-year residence required for ages 19 to 24 to get free dental care
- Twelve-month residence required to receive one-time childbirth grant
- Longer stays required before eligibility for certain welfare benefits
- Cuts to introduction benefits for couples without children
Tougher Rules Align Norway With Other Nordic Countries
Norway’s Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said that restricted services and aid will help control refugee inflows.
She wants to prevent excessive pressure on municipalities that could undermine Ukraine's support efforts.
Mehl noted that the new measures align policies with neighboring Nordic countries.
Norway aims to curb incentives for disproportionately high numbers of Ukrainians fleeing to Norway over other nations.
Work Requirements for Ukrainian Refugees Increased
While reducing certain forms of aid, Norway also wants Ukrainian refugees to join the workforce faster.
Minister Brenna said refugees will provide economic resources by filling widespread labor shortages.
Under a more work-oriented integration program, the minimum weekly activity requirement increases from month four of enrollment onward.
Ukrainians must participate in vocational courses, apprenticeships, part-time work, and similar activities averaging 15 hours per week.
Pets No Longer Allowed in Asylum Centers
One notable change is Norway’s policy on pets in asylum centers.
Ukrainian refugees can no longer live with pets in accommodation arranged by the government.
The state will not fund costs associated with refugees’ pets. This measure aims to streamline municipal services assisting displaced Ukrainians.
Residence Periods Introduced for Certain Benefits
Some new policies require Ukrainian refugees to live in Norway for set timespans before qualifying for select welfare benefits.
For example, free dental care now has a five-year residency prerequisite for those aged 19 to 24 with temporary protection status. This reform incentivizes refugees who plan to build long-term lives in Norway.
A one-year residence rule also applies to birth grants for deliveries in the country.
Other changes mandate minimum stays before gaining access to need-based financial assistance.
Work Integration Prioritized Over Qualifications
Minister Brenna stressed that Norwegians expect Ukrainian refugees to actively pursue employment opportunities rather than rely on state aid.
The revamped integration program orients Ukrainians toward available jobs, even if below their skill level.
With Norwegian firms struggling with acute labor shortages in many industries, Ukrainian refugees can help fill vacant positions.
Work integration takes priority over matching qualifications under the updated rules.
Norway’s Stance Signals Shift in European Refugee Policies
Norway’s tighter regulations could influence wider European immigration policies.
The measures to control influxes and orient refugees toward working align with recent political currents across the continent.
As the Ukrainian crisis persists over 2023, other European nations may follow Norway’s lead.
Similar policy shifts could include tighter ETIAS requirements, stricter work mandates, and scaled-back benefits for asylum seekers.
Refugee Rules Show Norway Balancing Support and Sustainability
Norway’s nuanced stance attempts to balance refugee aid with domestic sustainability.
While still backing Ukraine, the country is circumspect about overextending resources. Its strategic policy pivot may guide Europe’s long-term refugee response.
Controlled Immigration Vital Amid Ukraine Support Efforts
While maintaining assistance for Ukraine’s defense efforts, Norway believes controlled refugee resettlement is vital.
The policy changes balance labor integration support with cost efficiencies.
Tightened rules align Norway’s policies with regional partners, prevent excessive strains on municipalities, and ready Ukrainians to enter the workforce.
As it backs Ukraine abroad, regulated immigration allows Norway to sustain domestic aid.