Are Geir’s Norwegian kids illegal aliens? Can UDI force his family to leave Norway?

28 07 2013

geircropGeir and his wife Melanie, and daughters Lucy and Amalie.

I am a Norwegian, born in Norway, and have two gorgeous daughters with my Australian wife.

Our daughters were born in Norway in 2005 and 2007, respectively.

My wife has lived here since 1998, has permanent residency in Norway, and we have lived here in Norway most of the time since then. She is truly integrated in Norwegian society.

When the children were born they obtained their birth certificates, and also Norwegian passports – just like any other Norwegian children.

Last Friday our world almost fell apart – I was reading a thread on Facebook and realised that there is a big chance that our children have lost their Norwegian citizenship!

They were born in Norway, and I simply can’t understand the logic that UDI takes that strips them of their Norwegian citizenship – I am a Norwegian, they are born here in Norway, they have lived most of their life in Norway. They simply are Norwegian!!!

Here is a bit of background about us and our current situation:

When our daughters were born we chose to spend time in Australia to allow our children to get to know their mother’s home country.

A child born to an Australian citizen overseas qualifies for Australian citizenship by descent (this is the same as, for instance, a US citizen who gives birth here in Norway).

In order to adhere to Australian rules, we contacted Australian immigration experts before we entered Australia with our first-born daughter. My wife was given the information that our daughters qualified for citizenship by descent, and that they then had to enter Australia on an Australian passport. The paperwork for the citizenship by descent was to be organised by my wife. Note that I did not need to sign anything on the form she sent in.

We followed all the Australian rules stated to us, and through the Norwegian rules and legislation we found out (interpreted) that our daughter could keep her Norwegian citizenship – at least until the age of 22.
It should be mentioned that the Australian immigration expert told us that she could keep both citizenships for life. This has been verified through information from consulates/other Norwegians’ stories. Even as late as the 16th of July this year the information was verified in an answer from from one of the Norwegian consulates in Australia.

When our second daughter was born, my wife again took out Australian citizenship by descent for her.

Last year we moved back to Australia for family reasons. The original plan was to stay in Australia for up to 12 months initially.

Last weekend was simply terrible. It came to our attention that one other Norwegian – a Norwegian parent with children born both in Norway and Australia – has not been allowed to return to Norway with her family. The reason is apparently that her twins born in Norway were judged to be no longer Norwegian by UDI. Furthermore, their Norwegian citizenship had been revoked because their Australian parent had taken citizenship by descent for them.

Even more confusingly, her daughter born in Australia had no problems – she is legally both Australian and Norwegian. The rules are such that for children born to a Norwegian in, for instance, Australia, will be Australian from birth. If our daughters were not born in Norway, but rather Australia, we could legally have applied for citizenship in Norway for them. Then our daughters would legally have been both Norwegian and Australian.

Imagine that – you are more Norwegian if you are born in Australia than in Norway!

The information was, mildly speaking, disturbing. Have my Norwegian, Norway-born daughters really lost their Norwegian citizenship?

Have my daughters lived in Norway illegally most of their life? What will happen to them now? Will we ever be able to move back to Norway as a family?

I cannot see that I have done anything wrong. I have NEVER signed or legally consented to the Australian citizenship by descent. This is purely a process where the Australian parent applies the rights that she/he has when she/he has children overseas. We – the Norwegian parent(s) – simply don´t have anything to do with it!!

The situation also seems so unfair. Australia seems to be one of the few countries where this causes a problem with UDI. Australia, UK, Canada, England, etc.  all give the right for their citizens to take citizenship by descent for their children. Norway has no problem with any of the other countries listed above, but make a distinction with Australia, and claim that in the Australian system you send in what is referred to as a form/registration/application in various situations, and that in, for example, the USA, you send in a registration form. UDI discriminates against us that have Australian partners, because they say that as opposed to in the USA, an “application” has to be filled out in the Australian system.

Can UDI really be allowed to discriminate against us simply because the different systems have a natural difference in wording? In either case this is simply “CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT” for the children of a parent that gives birth away from their home country. It just seems SO unfair!

This is so frightening and depressing. And it just doesn’t seem fair! The situation where my wife simply used the rights that she has as an Australian citizen giving birth in Norway directly punishes my daughters, and they are not able to freely live/move back to Norway with us – their parents…





Kari’s family: Exiled from Norway

28 07 2013

DSC05744edit(Name changed and photo blurred to to protect privacy)

My daughter was born in Norway in 2010, and her father – my husband – is Australian. It is only now, three years later, I have come to understand that we might have jeopardised her and our future by acquiring what was rightfully hers: an Australian citizenship. I realise we might not have gone into the depth of UDI’s information available online, but we were of the understanding that a child born to two different nationalities would be allowed to keep both.

Moving back to Norway was on the cards for us. We were heading back in the middle of 2015. Now, it seems, we might not be able to go back at all – or we will have to divide our family to make it happen, because my daughter’s citizenship was taken from her without notice.

I am Norwegian. I lived there for 22 years. I vote, pay my taxes, volunteer, eat brown cheese and celebrate 17th of May every year. My parents, grandparents and pretty much everyone before that, were all Norwegian. And I thought my daughters were, too. Since moving to Australia we have had another one. She is Norwegian, too. But she is also Australian – because she was born there. The difference is that she gets to keep both citizenships. She has not even been to Norway.

Why is there such discrimination? Why does the Norwegian government exile Norwegian families that have but one wish: to live and work in Norway?

Our family is now looking at the depressing possibility of never being able to return, to always have to have Norway as a holiday destination, and never as our home.

TRANSLATION

I 2010 ble min datter fodt i Norge. Hennes far, og min mann, er fra Australia. Nylig fant vi ut at vi muligens har satt hele hennes, og vaar egen, fremtid paa spill, ved aa sorge for at hun fikk det som var rettmessig hennes; Australsk Statsborgerskap. Jeg er klar over at vi kanskje ikke satt oss inn dybden av all informasjonen UDI hadde paa sine nettsider, men var av den oppfatning at et barn fodt av foreldre med to forskjellige nasjonaliteter ville kunne beholde begge selv.

Aa flytte tilbake til Norge var vaar plan for fremtiden. Vi skulle reise dit i midten av 2015. Naa ser det ut som vi ikke vil ha mulighet til aa dra tilbake i det hele tatt – med mindre vi deler opp familien for aa faa det til. Fordi min datters statsborgerskap sannsynligvis har blitt tatt fra henne uten at vi har faatt beskjed.

Jeg er norsk. Jeg har bodd der i 22 aar. Jeg bruker stemmeretten min, jeg har betalt den skatten jeg skal betale, har jobbet som frivillig, spiser brunost og feirer 17. mai hvert aar. Mine foreldre, besteforeldre, og stort sett hver eneste person foer meg er og har vaert norske. Og jeg trodde mine barn ogsaa var det. Etter at vi flyttet til Australia, har vi nemlig faatt en til. Hun var ogsaa foedt norsk. Men hun er ogsaa Australsk – fordi hun ble foedt her. Forskjellen her, er at hun faar beholde begge statsborgerskapene – og hun har ikke en gang vaert i Norge.

Hvorfor finnes denne form for diskriminering? Hvorfor vil den norske regjering presse ut norske familier som har for onske aa leve og arbeide i Norge?

Vaar familie maa naa vaakne opp til den deprimerende realiteten at vi kanskje aldri kan flytte tilbake, og at norge vil forbli et reisemaal, og at det kanskje aldri vil bli vaart hjem…





A Norwegian mother’s story – how Nina cannot live together with her kids in Norway

26 07 2013

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.

ImageNina and Gregg with their children Milla, Agnes and Elliot. Despite being born in Norway to a Norwegian mother, Agnes and Elliot have been stripped of their Norwegian citizenship by UDI.

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Elliot Agnes Milla sykler hos Besta

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.