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Norwegian Immigration Policy Separates Families

Violates international conventions, says Love Without Borders

By Susanne Willgren
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 4, 2013 Last Updated: February 7, 2013
Related articles: World » Europe
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The board of the Norwegian nongovernmental organization Grenselos Kjaerlighet (Love Without Borders) at a demonstration on Valentine's Day in Oslo in 2012. (Courtesy of Grenselos Kjaerlighet)

The board of the Norwegian nongovernmental organization Grenselos Kjaerlighet (Love Without Borders) at a demonstration on Valentine's Day in Oslo in 2012. (Courtesy of Grenselos Kjaerlighet)

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—Thousands of Norwegians married to foreigners are not allowed to live with their spouses in Norway. An income law is splitting families apart and violates international conventions, says the Norwegian nongovernmental organization Grenselos Kjaerlighet (Love Without Borders).

A Norwegian marrying someone from another country has to earn at least 242,440 kroner (US$44,500) a year for the partner to gain permanent residency in Norway. The children of families that don’t meet the requirements suffer greatly, says Grenselos Kjaerlighet.

The organization’s chair, Frid Alstad Gaare, says the policy violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to family reunion and deportation.

Norway has already lost several cases in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, but “still refuses to change the way they implement the policy,” says Alstad Gaare.

For example, in 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Norway had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in a case involving the deportation of a woman from the Dominican Republic. She was married and had two children in Norway. The court emphasized the interest of the children in its decision, as the deportation would separate them from their mother.

On Valentine’s Day this year, Grenselos Kjaerlighet will hold a protest in Oslo to draw attention to this issue.

Most people in Norway assume that reuniting families is a simple thing, and that it is a right available to all.

—Frid Alstad Gaare, chair, Grenselos Kjaerlighet (Love Without Borders)

“We feel that this is a problem that few are aware of,” says Alstad Gaare. “Most people in Norway assume that reuniting families is a simple thing, and that it is a right available to all.”

Isaac Ashley Prenevost and Mathilde Hallingstad Prenevost were separated by this policy. Isaac, an American, was forced to return to the United States in early 2013 because his wife’s income was insufficient. The couple had met while they were both studying in China.

Prenevost told Norwegian state television (NRK) that he was shocked by the decision, since both his wife and daughter live in Norway, and both he and his wife were willing to work.

According to Alstad Gaare, thousands of families in Norway are denied the right to live together.

“It is important to look at the consequences these families suffer when they are denied the right to live together in Norway,” she said. “For many of them, it is not possible to live in the foreign partner’s country, and their only alternative is thus to move to Sweden or other EES countries.”

The Epoch Times asked Birgitte Magnus Weyde at the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security to explain the reasoning behind this law. She cited a government proposal from 2007, which states that the income demand will encourage young people to take responsibility for their financial situation and it will guarantee that the foreign partner is provided for.

In October, the Norwegian government proposed raising the income demand further. This new proposal would mean that the Norwegian spouse would have to earn 261,700 kroner (US$48,000). There are some exceptions to this rule, such as refugee couples who married and had children in another country.

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