How to obtain permanent residency in EEA countries: Switzerland, Iceland and Norway?

Not only European Union but also the European Economic Area is an attractive region when it comes to wages. Particularly, there is a large number of immigrants who live and work in Norway. The number is slightly less when it comes to Switzerland and Iceland. Are you planning to work abroad? You should do a research on how to obtain permanent residency in EEA countries in order to be able to work legally.

What are the residency rights in Norway?

If you wish to relocate to Norway, you should keep in mind that there are generally three residency types applicable in the local laws: up to 3 months, more than 3 months and permanent residency. As a resident of an EU member state, you don’t have to register your stay if it’s not longer than 3 months. However, if you plan to reside in Norway for a longer period, you should register your stay. The procedure is simple: you need a legal job and register at, print out a confirmation and visit your local police station. That’s all. From this point on, you can work and stay in Norway legally.

How to obtain permanent residency in Norway?

The case is slightly different if you want to obtain permanent residency. This is associated with acquiring an indispensable right of staying in Norway permanently.  You will not have to register again when you leave the country for longer. In practice, you will be entitled to the same rights as Norwegian citizens.

Why is it a good idea to learn Norwegian?

You can apply for permanent residency in Norway after 3 years. During this period you will need to work without any interruptions. An additional obligation is to complete a Norwegian language course according to the Introduksjonsloven standard or holding documents that will confirm sufficient knowledge of Norwegian or Sami. Furthermore, you will need a clean criminal record. Any sentences will extend the period in which you can apply for permanent residency.

New rules of applying for permanent residency

Starting in September 2017, the Norwegian government introduced new principles when it comes to applying for permanent residency permits. According to the new guidelines, you will obtain the above permit if you have not received any social benefits from NAV in the last 12 months. Furthermore, you will need to have earned more than the gross amount of NOK 238,784 in the last year but you cannot sum up your income with the income of other family members. The new principles do not apply to people below 18 years old and over 67 years old.

How to obtain permanent residency in Iceland?

The situation is slightly different when it comes to Iceland but if your stay is maximum 3 months-long you will not have to register, similarly to Norway. You can extend your stay in Iceland conditionally up to 6 months as long as you are searching for a job actively within that period. After arrival in Iceland, it is a good idea to keep your ticket because your stay counts from the day of coming into the country.

You will also need to keep in mind that regardless of the circumstances, your stay will have to be registered if it exceeds 6 months. Only after an entry is made in the National Population Register will you be able to live and work in Iceland without any limitations. A precondition of the above is to be in possession of sufficient funds that will make it possible for you to make a living independently. Additionally, you have to meet one of the criteria that will entitle you to stay in Iceland permanently (e.g. conclude an employment contract) and hold a personal number (kennitala).

What are the residency rights in Switzerland?

As a citizen of the EU, you can stay in Switzerland without meeting any formal aspects, as long as your stay does not exceed 3 months. If your stay is longer, you will need to legalise it. You can do that by applying for Permit L first, then Permit B, and finally Permit C. The last permit is a document that enables you to live in Switzerland, which is equal to permanent residency.

How to obtain temporary residency in Switzerland?

When starting your adventure in this country, you will need to obtain Permit L first. It’s valid for the first 365 days of your stay. The registration is made at a local labour and emigration office. To obtain temporary residency permit, you have to present a valid employment contract to the official, among other things. If you have not concluded a contract yet but intend to find a job, you can obtain Permit L on condition that you have resources that will let you make a living independently.

If you decide that you want to stay in Switzerland permanently, you can start applying for Permit B which gives you the right of residing for up to 5 years, and extending it for subsequent 5 years. The precondition here is to conclude an employment contact for a period of 1 or 2 years, or indefinitely. You have to be aware that if you were unemployed in the last year of the permit, you will only be eligible to obtain Permit L after Permit B expires.

How to obtain permanent residency in Switzerland?

After 5 or 10 years, you can apply for Permit C which will make permanent residency in Switzerland possible. There is no time limit so you can change jobs, address of residence and open up a business once you obtain Permit C. Furthermore, you can apply for the same permit to be issued to all members of your family if you have a sufficiently large home and your income makes it possible to make a living without obtaining Swiss social benefits.

Permanent residency in EEA countries and certified translation

The procedure of applying for permanent residency is similar in all EEA countries. This results from the adoption of local regulations to match the requirements of the European Union which was a precondition for concluding international agreements between all parties. Iceland offers the smallest number of formal aspects. Norway will require you to do more while the biggest number of requirements have to be met in the case of applying for residency in Switzerland. Regardless of the country, you may need certified translation of Polish documents.

Keep in mind that when you apply for permanent residency in EEA countries, you will need to meet more conditions than just having a job, flat lease contract or other documents issued by the local authorities. You will have to be in possession of Polish documents such as a birth certificate, criminal record in Poland or marital status certificate. In those particular cases, you have to ensure certified translation from Polish into the official language of the country of your choice. In some cases, such as Iceland, a certified translation into English will be sufficient. 

Does that mean you have to make an appointment with a certified translator? Not necessarily. You can use our convenient online form to send us a scan of the original document and we will deliver the translated documents containing certified seals to your address (including international addresses).