Russian visa applications in Norway hit 10-year-low

Storskog border checkpoint, in Arctic Norway. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
More than three times more Chinese were granted visa by Norway than Russians, in 2018.

Cross-border traffic from Russia to Norway in the north is pretty much a thermometer for economic outlook. The majority of people driving from the Murmansk region are shoppers to the near-border town of Kirkenes. Nowadays, private people’s purchasing power on average in Russia is weakening, estimated to be lower than countries like Argentina, Greece and Brazil, data from the World Economic Forum shows.

22,049 Russians were granted Schengen-visa to Norway in 2018, statistics from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) shows.

In Schengen-Europe as such, Russia still tops the list with nearly four million visa applications, followed by China.

Norway granted 75,834 visas to Chinese citizens last year.

Unlike normal procedures for Russian applicants, citizens in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts can get visa to Norway without having an invitation. This is what the Norwegians call a “Pomor visa” – named after the trading between northern Norway and Russia’s White Sea region before the 1917 revolution.

Also, most visas to Norway issued in the north are valid for multiple-entry. First time applicants can get it for a year, then two or three, and finally up to five years depending on the person’s needs.

Such reliefs gave an extra boost to cross-border traffic a few years ago, but in 2018, also cross-border traffic between Russia and Norway in the north dropped. Storskog, which is Norway’s single entry checkpoint from Russia, counted 254,942 border crossings, down about 10,000 compared with 2017, the Barents Observer reported.

Norwegian Schengen-visas granted to Russians:

2018: 22,049
2017: 23,822
2016: 22,579
2015: 25,578
2014: 45,541
2013: 59,730
2012: 51,988
2011: 52,884
2010: 46,373
2009: 41,195

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Fearing issues at U.S. border, Canada’s western Inuit put stop to cannabis sales in Arctic town, CBC News

Finland: Finland to upgrade Arctic border-crossing point to welcome more traffic from northern Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Sliding Russian ruble brings down cross-border traffic with Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Fewer Russians doing cross-border shopping in Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s security service now screens all who apply for residency, Radio Sweden

United States: Why are people moving away from Alaska?, Alaska Public Media

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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