In December 2014, the Immigration Regulations were amended to attach more importance to children’s connection to Norway when considering whether to grant residence on humanitarian grounds.

A report that the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) recently submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security shows that this was also the result.

The report concerns UNE’s practice pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 8-5, referred to as the ‘permanent scheme’ in the Government’s collaboration agreement with the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) and the Liberal Party (Venstre). The report concerns 98 families with children whose cases were reconsidered after the regulatory amendment at their own request.

All the families had previously had applications for both protection (asylum) and residence on humanitarian grounds rejected. They nevertheless stayed in Norway and subsequently applied for the rejections to be reversed. The report describes UNE’s practice as regards granting residence in such cases based on the children’s connection to Norway.

The results show that 80 out of 98 families with children were granted residence. This corresponds to 82 per cent of these families. When UNE last submitted a report on its practice in such cases in June 2013, the corresponding figure was 45 per cent. The proportion of decisions reversed in the just over two years leading up to the regulatory amendment in December 2014 was approximately 50 per cent. This means that the proportion of applications for reversal granted has gone up by more than 30 percentage points following the regulatory amendment.

The 80 families whose previous rejections were reversed by UNE comprised a total of 141 adults and 183 children.

These are some of the report's conclusions:

The increased percentage of reversals seen in relation to the grounds given in the decisions indicate that, generally speaking, more importance has been attached to considerations of the child’s best interests and the children's connection to Norway under the new practice.

The report covered families with children who went to school and had been in Norway for at least four years and four months. The practice shows, as before, that when accompanying children have stayed in Norway for at least four and a half years and attended school for one year, a connection has formed that, in principle, constitutes strong humanitarian considerations. The regulatory amendment has not lowered this threshold, but stipulated that, when such a connection exists, greater importance shall be attached to it. This means that the connection will more often be a decisive factor when weighed against what is known as immigration control considerations.

It is not possible to determine with certainty which specific families that have now been permitted to stay would not have been granted residence before the regulatory amendment.

Firstly, about half of all families with similar cases were granted residence permits even before the amendment, and, secondly, these decisions are based on discretionary judgement in varied and often complex cases.

There is no fixed boundary for when residence is granted on the basis of children's connection to Norway. UNE’s decision-makers have made concrete discretionary assessments where the arguments for and against granting a residence permit are seen in connection with each other.

It seems unclear from the practice how much importance is attached to appellants’ failure to help to clarify their identity and make a return possible. Individual circumstances could indicate differences in emphasis, but the practice is not unambiguous on this point in cases that appear quite similar.

Where previous rejections were upheld despite children having been in Norway for a long time, the decision was based on rejection being justifiable also on the basis of considerations for the best interests of the child. The grounds given in the decisions do not provide sufficient basis for more general conclusions regarding when a rejection will not be justifiable based on considerations for the best interests of the child.

Read the whole report: Permanent scheme for children who have stayed in Norway for a long period