I am Norwegian and my husband is Australian. We have three daughters; one born in Australia in 2007 and twins born in Norway in 2008. Read on to learn how the Norwegian mother Nina cannot live together with her kids in Norway.
Upon the birth of our first daughter in 2007, we explored the possibilities for positing dual Norwegian and Australian citizenships for our child, and it was confirmed by Norwegian authorities that this was ok in light of a Norwegian mother and an Australian father. It never crossed our minds one year later when our twins were born that rules could be different simply because they were born in Norway! If anything, a child born in Norway should most absolutely be a Norwegian citizen?! Wouldn’t it be our daughter born in Australia who possibly could not be Norwegian? The irony is that today, our daughter born in Australia is the Norwegian one, and our twins born in Norway are not allowed to be Norwegian!!
Long story short: UDI has now revoked the twins’ Norwegian citizenship! They were not allowed to be Norwegian anymore, because they also had received Australian citizenship by descent at birth, as their father is Australian. Their older sister born in Australia is allowed to keep her dual Norwegian-Australian citizenship. But for the twins, they cite the rule that: “A child who acquires another citizenship by application or explicit consent shall lose his or her Norwegian citizenship where the parents jointly or the parent who has sole parental responsibility, have or has lodged the application or given the consent”. In other words, if you are born in Norway and then become a citizen of another country, then you automatically forfeit your Norwegian citizenship. There is no notification of this, no required signature where you acknowledge that you are aware of the consequences of what you are doing, no information, nothing. Parents are just supposed to know this!
We can see some issues with this reaction and verdict by UDI:
- First of all, there seems to be no clear consensus and very contradictory advice is given to parents who ask for clarification of this matter. We did seek advice from Norwegian authorities and followed the advice given: that a child with a Norwegian and Australian parent was entitled to posit dual citizenship (and still today the Norwegian consulates in several cities in Australia confirm this, regardless of whether children are born in Norway or Australia)
- For five years, our children have had Norwegian passports and been Norwegian citizens, and we have renewed their passports twice without problem! We have been travelling between Norway and Australia frequently due to my undertaking of my doctorate in Australia, but parts of my studies have been located in Norway, hence we have been ‘commuting’ between the two countries for several years. HOWEVER, UDI claims that it was a mistake on their behalf, and although we never received any notification until the children were 5 years old, they in fact did lose their Norwegian citizenship on the date that they received their Australian citizenship by descent.
- There are many families who are confused now, because they have Norwegian passports for their children born in Norway and who posit dual Norwegian-Australian citizenship. Because the Norwegian passport application does not (currently) contain any question of whether you also have a different country’s citizenship, it is rarely ‘discovered’ and we are the only ones we know of where the government has actually officially revoked the children’s passports and citizenship. And if it wasn’t for an eager government official asking questions when we last renewed the children’s passports, they would still ‘be Norwegian’ too, as we had passports and truly believed we had done everything correctly in regards to our children’s citizenship!
- Because the children have an Australian father they automatically qualify for Australian citizenship – HOWEVER, you have to REGISTER any birth and citizenship that happens abroad, outside Australia. This happens when the Australian father/parent signs a document called “citizenship by descent” and the heading on this document states “Registration of Australian Citizenship by Descent” to confirm that the following person has been registered as an Australian citizen. Nowhere in this document does it say “application approved”, hence we are interpreting this as a REGISTRATION of Australian citizenship, not an application for Australian citizenship.
- UDI interprets registering our children as APPLYING for citizenship in another country. However, there is a difference; for example two Norwegian parents applying in Australia for citizenship of their child born in Norway, after, for instance, living Downunder for ten years. Such would clearly be an application. But we are talking about a right by birth to be registered as an Australian citizen by right of descent because your father/parent is Australian!
We have spent a lot of time and money investigating and fighting this issue for our little family, and we have just spent a year trying to fight UDI’s decision to revoke our twins’ Norwegian citizenship. But after spending thousands of kroner on lawyers and appeal, we have been handed the final verdict: our twins have had their Norwegian citizenship revoked on a permanent basis. We may reapply for them to become Norwegian citizens when they are 12, but will have to renounce the Australian citizenship in that case.
I know it is ridiculous, but UDI is not yielding. We have talked to the Australian Consul in Oslo, and she informed us that an unofficial number of children in the same situation as our Norwegian-Australian family could be as high as perhaps 1500 children or even more! These are children (Norwegian-Australian parents) born in Norway who have potentially lost their Norwegian citizenship without their knowledge (because you automatically lose your Norwegian citizenship when you acquire Australian citizenship by descent!). So the result is that my daughter born in Australia is the one that qualifies for dual Norwegian-Australian citizenship, and our twins that were born in Norway are denied Norwegian citizenship, and can only be Australian.
This creates problems, as last year we wanted to move back home to Norway, but since my twins are no longer Norwegian citizens, the only way I could take them to Norway was to apply for ‘family reunion’. However, upon exploring this option, I was even denied family reunion, as I did not fulfill, for example, the financial criteria in the application – to be able to care for my family (as I didn’t have a job in Norway, and was still finishing off studies, so could not document the required income needed to qualify). UDI’s solution and advice given to me: I can move to Norway with my 6-year old daughter, and live and work for 1 year in Norway so that I fulfill all criteria for an approved family reunion, then I can apply and have the twins come from Australia. Crazy! So at the moment we are stuck here in Australia.
As a mother, I worry what will happen to my children should we as parents, for example – worst case scenario – pass away. We have no family here in Australia – who would then take care of my children? Would my parents in Norway encounter any problems taking the children out of Australia and into Norway? Needless to say we feel very vulnerable.
When my children were born I thought they would be Norwegian because I, as their mother, am Norwegian, in the same sense that they are Australian because their father is Australian. Norwegian citizenship and Australian citizenship by “descent” is just a process, the child is still Norwegian and Australian at birth. We think UDI is getting it all wrong, and we sincerely hope that UDI will reconsider their interpretations of this law.