In a bid to stop widespread cheating with family immigration, the Norwegian government has proposed amendments to the Children's and Citizenship Acts.
According to the daily newspaper Aftenposten, the proposals have been reviewed and received broad support.
"The legislative amendments we propose are in full accordance with Norway's commitment to human rights. Children have the right to protection of their own identity and eventual citizenship. Failure to use DNA tests in the case of identity doubts can pose a risk of [facilitating] trafficking in human beings," Children and Equality Minister Linda Hofstad Helleland of the Conservative Party told Aftenposten.
At present, the Norwegian authorities do not currently have the legal authority to demand DNA testing of potential family immigrants when establishing paternity, which may be a problem in the immigrants' countries of origin, as it is not always possible to obtain birth certificates or proper ID documents.
If a person ever becomes a Norwegian citizen, their children are automatically granted Norwegian citizenship as well, with a right to obtain a Norwegian passport and permanent residence.
According to Norway's Immigration Directorate (UDI), 15,500 people came to Norway as "family immigrants" in 2016. Half of these people were aged 18 or below. Family immigration has long been the most common cause of immigration to the Scandinavian nation from countries outside of the European Economic Area, which Norway is part of.
In 2010, the Immigration Directorate initiated DNA tests of spouses without common children who sought family immigration. The authorities suspect that they were not spouses but siblings; this isn't considered sufficient grounds for immigrating in Norway. The 2010 spot checks revealed that in excess of 40 percent of those surveyed turned out to be siblings.
Somalis represent the largest group of family immigrants to Norway. Between 2001 and 2013 alone, close to 13,000 Somalis came to Norway via family reunification, according to the UDI. Bashe Musse, the leader of the Somali network in Norway, stressed that while it was undeniably wrong to abuse such a scheme, the pressure of relatives may be strong.
Norway's Somali diaspora numbers over 30,000 people and is one of the country's largest. Almost four out of ten Somalis have come to the Scandinavian country by means of family reunification.