Internal flight is an exception from the right to refugee status pursuant to the Immigration Act Section 28 first paragraph (a) and (b).

‘The right to be recognised as a refugee does not apply if the foreign national may obtain effective protection in other parts of his or her country of origin than the area from which the applicant has fled, and it is not unreasonable to direct the applicant to seek protection in those parts of his or her country of origin.’

The rules are based on ‘a principle where the right to international protection is subsidiary in relation to the possibility of protection in the country of origin.’ (Proposition No 75 to the Odelsting (2006-2007) p. 98 and p. 415, Norwegian Official Report 2004:20 p. 396.) A person who can obtain protection in their country of origin by internal flight is not entitled to protection in other countries.

There are three conditions in Norwegian and international law: The internal flight alternative must be safe and available to the appellant. The Act uses the term ‘effective protection’, which can be understood to mean safe and available. In addition, internal flight must not be unreasonable. A forward-looking assessment of the conditions at the time of decision is applied, and UNE has the burden of proof for ensuring the conditions are met.

Internal flight was the main topic of a Grand Board decision of 14 December 2006, made pursuant to the Immigration Act of 1988. Generally speaking, the decision’s unanimous precedent was that the conditions for refugee status must be met when considering return to the country of origin before the issue of internal flight is assessed, that a specific area must be identified for possible internal flight in the asylum seeker’s country of origin, and that the internal flight alternative must meet the three cumulative conditions that it must be available, safe and reasonable.

The basis for this memo was written in connection with the equal treatment meeting on internal flight held on 1 December 2011, and subsequently reworked as a practice memo. The memo is based on a review of around 200 decisions retrieved from the database of previous decisions and the sections’ own practice memos, and it must be noted that it may not include all relevant decisions. All the decisions discussed in this memo were made after 1 January 2010 when the new Act entered into force. It also refers to a Grand Board decision of 2006.