The Storting has adopted the Immigration Act and all amendments to the Act. The Storting has also endorsed the main principles for immigration control by considering white papers on the subject. The principles are set out in the regulations issued pursuant to the Act. The Act is implemented by 'the King, Ministry, Immigration Appeals Board, Directorate of Immigration, police and other public authorities'.
The King has the authority to issue regulations pursuant to the Act, an authority that has been delegated to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
The King in Council makes decisions regarding collective protection and is the appeal body in cases that concern considerations of national security or foreign policy when the Ministry has issued instructions. The directors general of the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) are appointed for a fixed term by the King in Council, who also appoints the board members on the basis of recommendations received. UNE's Board Leaders are employed in permanent positions.
Several provisions in the Act assign authority to the Ministry, which, from 1 January 2010, is the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The Ministry can issue instructions in matters that concern considerations of national security or foreign policy, and it can instruct the UDI on matters of interpretation of the law and the exercise of discretionary judgment. The Ministry may decide that a decision made by UDI in favour of a foreign national shall be reviewed by UNE, and that such a decision made by UNE shall be brought before the courts. Among other things, it also has the authority to issue guidelines concerning resettlement refugees, to decide where approved border crossing points should be and to recommend board members. It is the Ministry of Justice and Public Security that has budget responsibility for UDI and UNE. The Ministry can issue instructions concerning prioritisation of cases and organisational and administrative matters.
The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) is the key agency in the immigration field. UDI makes the initial decision in most types of cases and is the appeal body for first instance decisions made by the police or a foreign service mission. Appeals against first instance decisions made by UDI must be submitted to t UDI for comments on the claims in the appeal. UDI will then forward the appeal to UNE, unless it reverses its decision on the basis of the claims in the appeal. UDI interviews all asylum applicants, selects resettlement refugees and carries out many other tasks, including producing information material in many languages.
The police also have many tasks in the immigration field. Among other things, the police register asylum applications and receive applications for first-time permits from foreign nationals staying in Norway as well as applications for renewal of permits and settlement permits. In addition to being responsible for preparing cases for UDI, the police can also grant certain types of applications when there is no doubt that the conditions have been met. The police can also make decisions regarding rejection of entry for foreign nationals who do not meet the conditions for entering Norway, and organise the deportation of foreign nationals who refuse to leave voluntarily. The police have the authority to use coercive measures pursuant to the Act and can prosecute violations of the Immigration Act.
Several 'other public authorities' have responsibilities under the Immigration Act and the Regulations. Examples include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which recommends board members, and the foreign service missions, which prepare cases for UDI, among other things by receiving applications from applicants abroad and ensuring that the applications contain all necessary information and that all necessary enclosures are included.
Some foreign service missions also have power of decision in visa cases, and some can grant certain applications for work permits when there is no doubt that the conditions have been met. Applications for visitor's visas and airport transit visas can also be granted by certain foreign service missions belonging to other countries in the Schengen area. Together with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance stipulate a quota for applicants who has a vocational education or special qualifications and wish to work in Norway.
The Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre (Landinfo) was established as part of the immigration administration, but functions as an independent expert body in its work to provide information about countries of origin to the Ministry and to UDI and UNE for use in case processing.
The courts and the Parliamentary Ombudsman consider many immigration cases within their area of competence without being mentioned in the Immigration Act.
Organisations other than public authorities are also assigned tasks under the Immigration Act. For example, the Norwegian Association of Lawyers and humanitarian organisations recommend board members.
UNE's place in this picture
UNE is the appeal body for first instance decisions made by UDI and decides the cases 'as an independent body' pursuant to the Immigration Act, i.e. as a politically independent administrative body. The Ministry cannot issue instructions to UNE about interpretation of the law, the exercise of discretionary judgment or decisions in individual cases (except in cases that concern considerations of national security or foreign policy). The Ministry's management and control must be exercised through laws and regulations.
UNE considers appeals against decisions made by UDI to reject applications for protection (asylum), family immigration, residence permits and visas, and against UDI decisions regarding expulsion and rejection on entry. It also considers appeals against UDI decisions to revoke permits granted, to register foreign nationals in SIS (the Schengen Information System) and rejections of applications for travel documents and immigrant’s passports.
UNE also considers requests for reversal of its own decisions. A request for reversal is a request for renewed consideration of a case that has already been considered by two bodies.
Among other things, UNE cooperates with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to make the regulatory framework as clear as possible, including as a consultative body, and to make the annual allocation letter from the Ministry, which states UNE's goals and priorities etc., as expedient as possible. UNE keeps the Ministry up to date about matters that it is important that the Ministry is familiar with and submits expert statements on immigration matters at the Ministry's request.
UNE cooperates with UDI in many areas, three of which are mentioned below: The computer system for immigration and refugee cases (DUF) is a registration and case processing tool for the whole immigration administration, and efforts to make this tool as expedient as possible is an important area of collaboration. UNE can return an appeal case to the UDI for further preparation in order to ensure that the case is sufficiently elucidated for a decision to be made. UNE makes use of the UDI's interpreting services in connection with appeals board hearings.
UNE primarily cooperates with the police on the implementation of decisions requiring foreign nationals to leave Norway. The police stipulate a deadline for leaving in connection with such decisions, and, pursuant to the Act, UNE can instruct the police to defer implementation of the decision. When foreign nationals refuse to return voluntarily and are to be escorted out of the country, the police must check whether any unanswered requests for reversal are registered in the case. In such case, the policy must contact UNE to check whether the decision can be implemented.