The temporary turn in Norwegian asylum law and practice

Temporary protection as a strategy of migration management

In this CMI report, “The temporary turn in Norwegian asylum law and practice” Senior Researcher Jessica Schultz (Chr. Michelsen Institute, CMI) provides a “systematic overview of temporary protection practices in Norway, from the collective temporary protection granted to refugees from the Balkans conflict and the war in Ukraine to more indirect measures that reduce the security previously associated with refugee status recognised on an individual basis.”

The report draws attention to how the concept of temporary protection was adopted in Norway during the 1990s as a practical response to avoid time-consuming individual asylum assessments and facilitate coordination in situations of rapid and large-scale arrivals. It addresses the high arrival numbers in 2008 and 2015 as a turning point in legal frameworks concerning the protection and integration of refugees, qualification for refugee status and rights of refugees. This also coincided with the intensification of deterrence strategies, encouraging voluntary return through incentives such as cash grants, legal assistance and medical supplies, promotion of protection categories and cessation and revocation practices for migration management, as well as increasing barriers to reunification with family members and obstacles to a secure residence status in Norway.

The report further highlights how refugees view temporary protection as a source of chronic stress and degradation, as well as pointing out the differences of experiences amounting to hierarchies of protection categories. Finally, the report analyses four practices of temporary protection that limit refugee rights and reduce the security of residence: 1) the proliferation of residence statuses and differentiation of rights within them; 2) scrutiny of a refugee’s right to remain; 3) obstacles to accessing permanent residence and citizenship; and 4) barriers to family unity.

This report is prepared as part of the “Temporary protection as a durable solution? The ‘return turn’ in asylum policies in Europe (TemPro)” project, led by Schultz. The TemPro project aims to create new knowledge about the dynamics and effects of refugee policies that reinforce the temporary nature of asylum in Europe.