When the new citizenship law comes into force on September 1, Minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen and the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion (AID) will have the opportunity to stick their wheels to people who have already obtained Norwegian citizenship.
Because this summer, at the last minute, the Odelsting gave blanket authorization to a change in the law, originally adopted by the Storting in June last year.
The new legislative text does not only open up for Hanssen and his crew in AID to give instructions to the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) in the national field. In addition, the Ministry may review the UDI's decision to grant a person Norwegian citizenship, by trying the case at the Immigration Board. If the Board upholds the positive decision, the Ministry can finally appeal the case to the courts.
It seems Fakhra Salimi, head of the Resource Center for Immigrant and Refugee Women (MiRA), is worrying.
- This is a tightening and creates a lot of insecurity. When the UDI, which is part of the state, makes a thorough assessment and believes that an applicant meets all the criteria for citizenship, the state should accept the decision, says Salimi.
- The Mira Center's fears are unfounded. The ministry will only review positive decisions if we believe they are invalid, for example due to corruption or bribery, says State Secretary Libe Rieber-Mohn in AID.
Salimi fears, however, that the new law will lead to two categories of citizenship: one indisputable for ethnic Norwegians and another rank for persons of foreign origin.
- If citizenship is conditional on the goodwill of politicians, it will also depend on currents in society. This does not serve people's desire for belonging or integration, says Salimi.
The Anti-Racist Center is also critical. In their consultation statement, they write, among other things, that the scheme deprives Norwegian citizens who lose citizenship of a genuine right of appeal.
Lawyer Heidi Bache-Wiig in the Law Society's Committee on Asylum and Immigration Law, is surprised by the change in the law.
- One can not understand this in any other way than that the politicians with this want to take back some of the control in immigration cases. I was somewhat surprised when the politicians relinquished much of their control over the UDI. But it amazes me that they can go to court to have the administration's decision reviewed, says Bache-Wiig, who says that the Bar Association did not have the case for hearing.
- The Act on Amending the Citizenship Act (Odelsting Bill no. 71, 2005-2006) gives the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion (AID) the opportunity to review the administration if it has granted a foreign national citizenship, not the opposite.
- The legislative text states that the Ministry may bring the Immigration Directorate's (UDI) "positive decision" into trial at the Immigration Board (Une). The committee's "positive decision" can also be tried before the courts.
- The Ministry can review both the UDI's and UN's decisions within four months of being granted citizenship. If the case ends before the court, it is the foreigner who is being sued