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Attention Repealed and outdated documents

UDI circulars

RS 2010-154
Document-ID : RS 2010-154
Case-ID : 09/4695-11
Last modified : 19.06.2013
Documentdate : 01.01.2010
Receiver :

Chiefs of Police
The foreign service missions
All personnel at the UDI

Parties' right of access to information - The right of the parties to acquaint themselves with information in their own case - the Public Administration Act sections 17-21

1. Introduction

2. The purpose of the rules concerning a party's right of access to information

3. Overview of the main sources of law

4. The main principles for a party's right of access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act

4.1. Legal basis

4.2. Who has the right of access to information in the case?

4.3. The party must request access to information

4.4. To whom should an enquiry about access to information be addressed?

4.5. In which cases does the party have the right of access to information?

4.6. When does a party's right of access to information become effective?

4.7. What does the term "the case documents" include?

4.7.1. Document 0

4.7.2. Documents concerning criminal matters

4.7.3. Anonymous information

4.7.4. Telephone notes and similar

4.7.5. Classified documents

5. Exemption from the right of access to information

5.1. Documents for use in the internal preparation of the case

5.2. Exemption from access to information because of the content of the information

5.2.1. Information of significance to foreign policy interests, or national defence or security interests; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter a

5.2.2. Information that it "must be considered inadvisable to reveal to him"; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter d

5.2.3. Information that concerns another person's state of health; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter a

5.2.4. Information which "for special reasons should not be disclosed" to the party; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b.

5.2.4.1. Protection of sources; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b

5.2.4.2. Control considerations and investigative considerations cf. The Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b

6. Procedural rules when a party's right of access to information is refused

7. Enhanced access to information

8. Case management procedures when a party applies for access

8.1. In what way shall the party be granted access -- registration in DUF

8.1.1. Deadline for return of documents and for comments cf. the Public Administration Act section 20 second and fifth paragraph

8.2. Further detail about refusal of access to information

8.2.1. Requirements for grounds; cf. the Public Administration Act section 21 first paragraph second sentence

8.2.2. Access to appeal

9. The duty to provide information pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraph

9.1. Information that shall be submitted to the party for comment; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph

9.1.1. Exceptions to the duty to submit information to the party

9.2. Information that should be submitted to the party for comment

9.3. Questions regarding translation of information that is submitted to the party pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17

9.4. Case processing procedures and registration in DUF when information is submitted to the party pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17

10. Effects of breach of the rules of the Public Administration Act sections 17-21

1. Introduction

The purpose of this circular is to ensure familiarity with the regulations and routines for handling cases relating to parties' right of access to information. The circular shall also ensure that our duty to provide information pursuant to the Public Administration Act [forvaltningsloven] section 17 second, third and fourth paragraphs is fulfilled.

The guidelines will provide an overview of the provisions of the Public Administration Act regarding a party's right of access to information and the duty to provide information. A separate circular concerning access to documents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act [offentleglova] has been prepared; see RS 2009-020. The circular will not address the right of access to information pursuant to the Personal Data Act [personopplysningsloven]. 

A party's right of access to information (also referred to as disclosure to a party) means the party's right to acquaint himself/herself with the documents and information in his/her own case; cf. the Public Administration Act sections 17 to 21.

2. The purpose of the rules concerning a party's right of access to information

The purpose of the rules concerning a party's right of access to information is to ensure the party due process protection. The aim of the party's right of access is to ensure that all aspects of a case are elucidated.

The ability of the party to see the information in his or her case will also promote confidence in the administration. The immigration administration shall be transparent and accessible.

3. Overview of the main sources of law

The Immigration Act contains no special provisions concerning a party's right of access to information. It is therefore the provisions of the Public Administration Act regarding a party's right of access to information that apply to immigration cases; cf. the Immigration Act section 80.

Sections 18-19 of the Public Administration Act govern parties' access to acquaint themselves with information in their own case.

In addition, the provisions of the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraphs are important in connection with the party's opportunity to see the information in the case. In terms of the provisions, the administration has a duty and a recommendation to present the party with information that the person in question is entitled to see pursuant to the Public Administration Act sections 18-19.

The Public Administration Act sections 20-21 sets out procedural rules for the implementation of the right to information, refusal of access to information, and the right of appeal.

Breach of the rules regarding a party's right of access to information may result in a decision being invalid; cf. the Public Administration Act section 41.

In addition to the provisions on a party's right of access to information in the Public Administration Act, a party also has a general right of access to information pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act; see the circular RS 2009-020. A party will have more wide-ranging rights of access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act than pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

The Freedom of Information Act has many provisions on public access to information that correspond to the provisions on a party's right of access in the Public Administration Act. In "Rettleiar til offentleglova" ["Guide to the Freedom of Information Act"], the Ministry of Justice and the Police provides guidelines to the provisions on public access to information. This guide is relevant and useful for the interpretation of the provisions on a party's right of access pursuant to the Public Administration Act.

4. The main principles for a party's right of access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act

4.1. Legal basis

A party shall have access to all documents/information in his/her case, unless there is a genuine and reasonable need to withhold access, and the Public Administration Act provides authority for withholding access.

The provisions of the Public Administration Act on the duty of secrecy pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 13 shall not prevent the information in a case from being made known to the parties to the case; cf. the Public Administration Act section 13b no. 1.

4.2. Who has the right of access to information in the case?

The right of access to documents pursuant to the Public Administration Act is limited to the parties to the case, or to the parties' advocate or other agent; cf. the Public Administration Act section 18 first paragraph; cf. section 12.

The question of who is the party in an immigration case is governed by the Immigration Regulations section 17-1; cf. the Public Administration Act section 2 first paragraph letter e. This means, for example, that a sponsor is not a party to the spouse's application for a family immigration permit.

The Immigration Regulations section 17-1 second paragraph states that the party is entitled to be assisted by a representative in the case; cf. the Public Administration Act section 12, and that a representative who is not a lawyer shall produce a proxy in writing.

Parents with parental responsibility have the right of access to their child's case documents.

If persons other than the party request the right of access to information, the immigration administration shall deal with the request pursuant to the rules of the Freedom of Information Act; see the circular RS 2009-020.

4.3. The party must request access to information

The rules on parties' right of access to information in the Public Administration Act sections 18-21 require the party to request access on his/her own initiative. The party need not specify the reason that he or she wishes to see the documents in the case.

The Public Administration Act section 18 applies to the party's right of access to the documents in the case. The administration may give the party further information; see further detail about "enhanced access to information" under Section 6.

4.4. To whom should an enquiry about access to information be addressed?

The party, or his or her representative, shall address the request for access to information to the agency that is to rule on the case, or that is responsible for preparing the case.

If the party addresses a request for access to information to an agency that does not have the documents, this agency shall forward the request to the appropriate authority.

4.5. In which cases does the party have the right of access to information?

The provisions on a party's right of access pursuant to the Public Administration Act sections 18-21 apply to the right to acquaint oneself with information in cases that may end in an individual administrative decision; cf. the Public Administration Act section 2 first paragraph letter b. This means, for example, that the party is not entitled to access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act in applications for remand in custody pursuant to the Immigration Act section 106. Because sections 18 et seq. of the Public Administration Act apply only to cases concerning individual administrative decisions, the rules for access to information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act will apply in cases in which individual decisions are not made.

The right of access to information must concern a case. Everything included in the same decision process constitutes one case. A person may have had several cases for consideration by the immigration authorities previously. If the party does not specifically request access to the entire case history, we assume that a request for access to information applies only to the most recent case that is relevant.

4.6. When does a party's right of access to information become effective?

Pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 18, the main rule is that the parties' right of access to information arises as soon as the case has begun. In practice, the right of access will become effective when the party applies for a permit, or when the immigration administration creates a case, for example in connection with expulsion or revocation of a permit.

The right of access also remains effective after the administrative decision has been made; cf. the Public Administration Act section 18 first paragraph second sentence. There is no limit on the duration of the right of access to information.

An exception to the right to require access to information at any time during the process of the case is authorised by the Public Administration Act section 20 first paragraph second sentence. If a party's access to information will impede the implementation of necessary investigations, the right of access may be deferred until the investigations have been completed. An example of such a situation is information about planned residence checks in family immigration cases in which a marriage of convenience is suspected. Also see sections 4.7.2 and 4.7.3 for information about criminal offences and anonymous information.

4.7. What does the term "the case documents" include?

The Public Administration Act section 2 first paragraph letter f contains the following definition of a document:

"document: a logically limited amount of information stored in a medium for subsequent reading, listening, presentation or transfer". The definition is technology-neutral.

The documents that elucidate and provide the basis for the individual decision will form part of the documents in the case. Examples are application forms, CDs with asylum interviews/language tests, reports, maps, photographs, letters, memos, email, statements, documentation from other government agencies, etc. Draft decisions and internal comments are also part of the documents in the case, even if they are not registered documents.

The concept of a document is correspondingly defined in the Freedom of Information Act section 4 first paragraph. "Rettleiar til offentleglova" ["Guide to the Freedom of Information Act"] includes a discussion of the concept of a "document".

Some of the document types that are often found in immigration cases are presented below.

4.7.1. Document 0

Document 0 includes documents with information of a sensitive nature, including asylum interviews, complaints, police certificates of good conduct, transcripts from national registers of convictions and fines, health-related documents, etc. See the circular on the registration of documents, RS 2008-021, and RS 2002-119 on the sending and filing of document 0 in asylum cases.

In principle, information in document 0 has equal status with the other information in the case with regard to a party's right of access.

The case officer must consider whether the information shall be exempted from a party's right of access; for further information about this, see section 5. The fact that the document is described as a "zero document" does not in itself provide a basis for refusal of a party's right of access.

In connection with access to documents that concern criminal matters, see sections 4.7.2. and 5.2.

4.7.2. Documents concerning criminal matters

Some immigration cases include information that concerns criminal matters. The information may be related to a concluded matter or to the investigation stage. Examples of such documents include police reports, complaints, preliminary charges, indictments, fines, or convictions.

The above-mentioned information is part of the immigration case, and as a rule the party will be entitled to access. Much of the information about criminal matters will relate to concluded matters with which the party is already acquainted, for example legally enforceable judgments. Information about the party from national registers of convictions and fines also concerns concluded matters with which the party is already acquainted. In such cases, there will be no reason to refuse a party the right of access to the information.

However, due to personal privacy considerations, the party will in principle not have the right to access to information about the sponsor's conduct; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b. For further information, see section 5.2.4.2.

In cases involving information that cannot be related to concluded matters, an assessment must be made about whether the immigration authorities should contact the police before the information is made available to the party. Considerations relating to investigations may weigh in favour of exempting information from a party's right of access. The information may be exempt from access pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Act [straffeprosessloven] section 242, because it may impair investigations. In such cases, it would be undesirable for the party to obtain access from the immigration authorities to the information in question.

There will be authority to exempt information from access out of consideration for investigations under the Public Administration Act Section 19 second paragraph letter b. If the information might impair the investigation, this can be described as "special reasons"; see section 5.2.4.2 for further information.

4.7.3. Anonymous information

Anonymous reports and tips related to an individual case concerning an applicant or sponsor, etc., shall be registered as a document in the applicant's case.

The party shall have access to information based on anonymous tips unless their content is such that they should be withheld from access pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 19; see section 5 below.

4.7.4. Telephone notes and similar

Oral information, for example from telephone conversations, shall be written down and registered as a document. This is made clear in the Public Administration Act section 11d second paragraph.

As a general rule, the party has the right to access notes based on oral information.

If the party himself/herself has not provided the relevant information in the case, the administration must assess whether the note is to be presented to the party for his/her opinion pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph, see section 6.

4.7.5. Classified documents

The Security Act and the Protection Instructions do not have any special provisions regarding a party's right of access to information. It is the general rules of the Public Administration regarding access and exemption from access that apply to classified documents.

The Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter a or the Security Act section 12 may provide appropriate authority for exempting classified documents from a party's right of access.

5. Exemption from the right of access to information

A party may be refused the right of access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act sections 18, 18a, 18b, 18c and 19, either because the documents have been drawn up for the internal preparation of the case, or because of the document's content.

The Freedom of Information Act has corresponding provisions on exemption from the right of access to information. "Rettleiar til offentleglova" ["Guide to the Freedom of Information Act"] provides a detailed analysis of the provisions on exemption. This will provide useful guidelines for assessment pursuant to the Public Administration Act.

Below, we provide a brief overview of documents that may be exempted from a party's right of access.

5.1. Documents for use in the internal preparation of the case

It is possible to exempt documents/information for use in the internal case procedures in relation to specific conditions.

Internal documents can be divided into two categories:

  • Documents that are prepared by the agency itself for use in its own processing of the case (documents internal to the agency); cf. the Public Administration Act section 18a and
  • Documents that an agency has obtained from external parties for use in its internal preparation of the case; cf. the Public Administration Act section 18b.

Internal case documents are often working documents, which makes them unsuitable for external presentation. As a rule, draft decisions and internal comments will be exempted from access. This also applies to enquiries from the Directorate of Immigration to Landinfo.

However, the party has the right of access to the parts of the document that apply to factual information; cf. the Public Administration Act section 18c first paragraph first sentence. This does not apply if the factual information is not relevant to the decision or when the information is available in another document to which the party has access; cf. the Public Administration Act section 18c first paragraph second sentence.

For a more detailed description of what the concept of internal documents entails, see section 7 in "Rettleiar til offentleglova" ["Guide to the Freedom of Information Act"].

5.2. Exemption from access to information because of the content of the information

A party's right of access may be refused because of the content of the information; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19. This applies only to individual items of information, not to the whole document.

It is not possible to provide a comprehensive list of cases covered by the Public Administration Act section 19. The sections below will describe some relevant cases.

5.2.1. Information of significance to foreign policy interests, or national defence or security interests; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter a

The Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter a provides authority to exempt a document from access to parties out of consideration for the security of the realm and the like.

A more detailed description of what the conditions entail is available in section 8.5 in "Rettleiar til offentleglova" ["Guide to the Freedom of Information Act"] .

The immigration administration must consider classifying the document pursuant to the provisions of the Act of 20 March 1998 No. 10 relating to Protective Security Services (the Security Act) section 11 or pursuant to the instructions for handling of documents requiring protection for reasons other than those mentioned in the Security Act with regulations (the Protection Instructions) of 17 March 1972 section 2.

5.2.2. Information that it "must be considered inadvisable to reveal to him"; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 first paragraph letter d

A party does not have the right to see information that it must be considered inadvisable to reveal to him", on account of the party's health or relations with persons with whom he has close ties.

Persons with whom the party has close ties include family members, friends, neighbours, etc. What is "inadvisable" must be specifically considered. "Inadvisable" is a stringent requirement. Out of consideration for the due process protection of the party, the exemption provision must be used with caution. If the party is not given an opportunity to refute the information, this must weigh heavily against exempting the document. The provision may be relevant where a person with close ties to the party has expressed revealing or highly derogatory statements about the party.

The interests of parties with close ties may also be addressed through anonymisation of the information. The case officer must therefore consider whether anonymisation is a sufficient measure.

The immigration administration may in any case disclose the information to a representative of the party, for example an authorised representative or guardian, unless special reasons indicate otherwise. In such case, it is up to the representative whether the information should be made known to the party, unless the administration has stipulated a condition that the representative shall not pass on the information.

5.2.3. Information that concerns another person's state of health; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter a

Exemption of information from a party's right of access out of consideration for another party's state of health will rarely be relevant in immigration cases. Generally, it will be the party himself/herself who has provided the administration with information about the health of others (usually close family members).

In principle, it will be health information of a sensitive nature that is covered by the exemption provision in the Public Administration Act section 19 second subsection letter a.

5.2.4. Information which "for special reasons should not be disclosed" to the party; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b.

The Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b provides authority for refusing a party access to information concerning circumstances that "for special reasons" should not be disclosed further.

It follows from the introduction to the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph that we cannot refuse a party access pursuant to this provision if it is important to him to acquaint himself with this information.

Here, the party's need for access must be balanced against the need for secrecy.

It will often be privacy considerations that are in conflict with consideration for the party's ability to protect his/her interests. The exemption provision must be exercised with caution. An example of "special reasons…" might be information about intimate family matters and about people's conduct.

It is not possible to provide a comprehensive list of cases that might be affected by the exemption provision. Some cases are presented below:

5.2.4.1. Protection of sources; cf. the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b

The Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b) provides authority to exempt a document from the right of access out of consideration for protecting a source. This is set out in the legislative background to the Public Administration Act, Proposition to the Odelsting (Ot.prp.) no. 38 (1964-1965) p. 67.

As an example, we can refer to a ruling by the Interlocutory Appeals Committee of the Supreme Court (Rt.1993 p. 1409), regarding access to documents in an asylum case. The ruling states that it was not in conflict with the Public Administration Act to refuse to specify which persons had provided information to the embassy in question. To provide access would involve a risk of reprisals of a dangerous nature for the source. The refusal was pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph sentence b.

The immigration administration must always consider providing access, but anonymising the document to protect the source.

5.2.4.2. Control considerations and investigative considerations cf. The Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b

It may be appropriate to exempt information from access to parties out of consideration for investigations or control considerations with authority in the Public Administration Act Section 19 second paragraph letter b.

It is difficult to provide guidelines for which cases might be affected by the exemption provision. The exemption provision must be exercised with caution in the interests of the due process protection of the party. Control considerations and investigative considerations must be weighed up against the party's ability to protect his or her interests.

Example: In an opinion from the Parliamentary Ombudsman from 2007 (regarding access to information in a citizenship case), the Ombudsman stated that it was "acceptable" to refuse access to documents from the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) regarding suspicion of war crimes pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 19 second paragraph letter b, see www.sivilombudsmannen.no/utlendingssaker.

6. Procedural rules when a party's right of access to information is refused

When a party is denied access to information, the case officer shall prepare a covering letter that informs the party about which documents are exempt from access, with grounds that refer to specific authority in the Public Administration Act; for further details about grounds, see section 8.2.1. If the case officer exempts several documents from access, he or she shall create a document list.

If the party is only given access to parts of a document, the case officer shall make the information available through excerpts from the text or by taking a copy of the document and blacking out that part of the document to which the party is not granted access.

If there is a particular need to restrict the party's right to access on the basis of the Public Administration Act section 19, the case officer should note this in the case (on the cover of the case file and/or electronically). This routine is to ensure that the various bodies involved in the case processing are aware of the document in question in the event of requests for access by a party.

With respect to documents from a criminal case, we refer to the routines described in section 4.7.2.

In connection with access by a party in cases relating to fundamental national interests, special procedures apply; see Instruks [Instructions] GI 2011-004.

7. Enhanced access to information

The Public Administration Act section 18 second paragraph establishes a statutory duty to consider enhanced access to information. The provision corresponds to the Freedom of Information Act section 11 regarding enhanced access to information.

Enhanced access to information means that if legal authority exists for exempting a document or an item of information from access, it shall be considered whether the party should nonetheless be granted access. The reason for this is that the authorisation of exemptions in the Public Administration Act often goes further than the actual need indicates. The party should be able to see the information in the case, unless there is a genuine and reasonable need to exempt the information from a party's right of access.

The case officer must consider whether the considerations that provide the basis for the appropriate exemption provision apply in the case in question. If the considerations associated with the exemption provision do not apply, the parties should be granted access to information. Even if there are considerations that justify exemption from access, such considerations must always be weighed up against the party's need for access. The case officer must therefore determine whether the party's need for access outweighs the need for secrecy.

When the immigration administration exempts information from access by a party out of consideration for protection of sources, there will as a rule be a genuine and reasonable need not to apply enhanced access or additional access.

8. Case management procedures when a party applies for access

The Public Administration Act section 20 contains provisions for how the right of access to information shall be exercised. The provision gives the administration the right to decide itself how the information shall be made available to the party; cf. the Public Administration Act section 20 first paragraph first sentence.

8.1. In what way shall the party be granted access -- registration in DUF

As a rule, if access is requested, the party shall receive a copy of the documents; cf. the Public Administration Act section 20 second paragraph. The request for disclosure shall be processed during the activity step "Instans behandler korrespondanse (Agency processes correspondence)" in DUF (the computer system for immigrant and refugee cases). The case officer shall enter "copy of case documents" in the comments field.

On request, the party's advocate may borrow the original documents unless there are special reasons to the contrary; cf. the Public Administration Act section 20 second paragraph second sentence. Weighty reasons must be present for "special reasons" to prevent such lending. An example could be that the advocate has previously lost documents, failed to return documents, or not observed the deadline for return.

If the need for access is due to a change of advocates, the new advocate shall as a rule receive the case documents from the previous advocate. The new advocate must therefore first be advised to contact the previous advocate in the case.

Only the party's advocate is entitled to borrow the original documents. The party himself/herself or a representative who is not an advocate is entitled only to a copy of the case documents. Nor is an officially approved legal services provider entitled to borrow the original case documents, but the administration may give the legal services provider access to borrow the documents.

When original documents are lent, this shall be registered in DUF under the work process "Instans behandler dokumentutlån (Agency processes lending of documents)"

8.1.1. Deadline for return of documents and for comments cf. the Public Administration Act section 20 second and fifth paragraph

In connection with document loans/provision of information, the case officer shall prepare a covering letter to the party/authorised representative. In the covering letter, the case officer shall stipulate a time limit, generally of two weeks, for possible comments, and for return of original documents if applicable. The time limit applies from the date on which the information is received. Before the deadline has passed, no decision shall be made.

The Public Administration Act section 20 fifth paragraph last sentence states that "if a postponement would be contrary to substantial public or private interests", the administration may nevertheless make an exception to the procedure described in section 20 fifth paragraph first sentence.

8.2. Further detail about refusal of access to information

Refusal of a request for access to information shall be in writing; cf. the Public Administration Act section 21 first paragraph.

Special rules have been drawn up concerning appeals in the Public Administration Act section 21, see section 8.2.2.

The case officer must be aware that the Freedom of Information Act and the Personal Data Act also apply to parties in public administration cases. If a party cannot obtain access to information pursuant to the Public Administration Act, it may be possible for access to be granted pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act or the Personal Data Act.

8.2.1. Requirements for grounds; cf. the Public Administration Act section 21 first paragraph second sentence

Refusal of access to a party is not an individual administrative decision. There are specific provisions in the Public Administration Act regarding grounds for refusal of parties' applications for access to information.

If parties' applications for access to information are refused, the case officer must refer to the provision of the Public Administration Act that provides grounds for the refusal; cf. the Public Administration Act section 21 first paragraph second sentence. For example, if documents are exempted from access because they are intended for the internal preparation of the case, the case officer shall provide information about this and refer to the Public Administration Act section 18a.

The case officer shall also inform the party that enhanced access to information has been considered pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 18 second paragraph.

The case officer shall provide information about the right of appeal and the appellate authority; see the next section.

8.2.2. Access to appeal

The parties may appeal against rejection of requests for parties' access to information. Pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 21 second paragraph, the normal rules in the Public Administration Act chapter VI apply to appeals against rejection of requests for access to documents. This means, among other things, that there is a time limit for lodging an appeal of three weeks from the date that the refusal arrived; cf. the Public Administration Act section 29.

The party or the party's representative shall submit the appeal to the agency that has refused access to the documents.

If the agency that receives the appeal upholds the rejection, the agency shall send the appeal to the higher appellate authority. When the Directorate of Immigration decides to refuse access to documents, it is the Ministry under which the Directorate is organised that is the appellate authority. When the police or a foreign service mission refuse a party access to documents, the Directorate of Immigration is the appellate authority.

9. The duty to provide information pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraph

In practice, the party's possibility to see the information in the case will often depend on the administration's duty to provide information. The immigration administration is responsible for considering whether information should be submitted to the party for comment pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraph. Only information with which the party has a right to acquaint himself in accordance with sections 18 to 19 shall be submitted to the party; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph.

It will be the decision-making agency that on its own initiative must consider submitting the information in question to the party. This implies that the police and foreign service missions shall consider submission of information to the party in the cases in which they themselves make decisions. Otherwise, the Directorate of Immigration must consider the question.

The Public Administration Act distinguishes between cases in which the case officer shall submit the information to the party for comment, and the cases in which the case officer should submit the information to the party for comment. See sections 9.1 and 9.2 for a more detailed discussion.

9.1. Information that shall be submitted to the party for comment; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph

The Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph states that as a rule the party has the right to see information that the administration receives during the preparation of the case in relation to specific conditions.

For example, the immigration administration will have a duty to submit to the party the result of age assessments, language tests, and DNA examinations that do not confirm the information otherwise included in the case; see the circulars RS 2010-155 Verification in immigration cases and RS 2010-035 Guidelines for DNA analyses in connection with applications for family immigration.

When the party is a minor over the age of 15 years, the case officer shall send the document both to the party and to the guardian; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 fourth paragraph. If the party is below the age of 15 years, the case officer shall send the documents only to the guardian.

If the minor party (up to 18 years old) is represented by an advocate, the case officer shall send the documents only to the advocate.

9.1.1. Exceptions to the duty to submit information to the party

The Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph letters a) - c) lists a number of exceptions from the duty to submit information to the party. The immigration administration is not obliged to send documents to the party when:

  • The information has been sent by the party him/herself or it is confirmed by information given by the party him/herself.
  • The party has an unknown place of residence. This does not apply when the party is represented by an advocate or agent.
  • It is important that a rapid decision be made in the case out of consideration for other parties or the public interest.
  • The information is not of decisive significance for the administrative decision or if notification for other reasons is unnecessary or serves no purpose as far as the party himself is concerned, for example because he will be apprised of the information in connection with the notification of the administrative decision; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 second paragraph letter c).

In certain cases there may be doubt as to whether one or several of the exceptions from the duty to inform apply. If the case is likely to result in rejection of an application for a residence permit, or it concerns the revocation of a residence permit and expulsion, there are stronger reasons for submitting the information to the party than if the decision will probably be positive. The case officer must also consider whether the information may be of significance in a subsequent case.

9.2. Information that should be submitted to the party for comment

Pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 third paragraph, the immigration administration should apprise the party of information of "material importance" and which we must assume that the party has "grounds for and an interest in expressing an opinion about". For example, this might involve information about country knowledge that contradicts the party's own arguments.

The case officer must balance the need for a rapid decision against an assessment of whether the party's information needs have been met in other ways.

9.3. Questions regarding translation of information that is submitted to the party pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17

The Public Administration Act section 17 does not stipulate a duty to use an interpreter or translator. The immigration administration has no general duty to translate the documents/information. However, good administrative practice indicates, within the bounds of reason, that the party should be informed about the contents of the documents.

In certain cases, the Immigration Act section 81, with supplementary provisions in the Immigration Regulations Chapter 17, stipulates a duty to communicate with the party in a language that the party understands.

9.4. Case processing procedures and registration in DUF when information is submitted to the party pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17

Documents that are submitted to the party on the administration's own initiative; cf. the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraph, shall be registered during the activity step "Instans behandler korrespondanse (Agency processes correspondence)" in DUF.

The Public Administration Act section 17 concerns the duty to present "information", not the case documents. The duty concerns the contents of a document and not necessarily the document itself. However, it will be most practical to send a copy of the document in question.

The case officer shall prepare a covering letter when the information is to be submitted to the party. It may be appropriate to provide a brief account of the importance that may be attached to the document in the case processing. As a rule, a time limit of two weeks shall be set for submitting any comments.

10. Effects of breach of the rules of the Public Administration Act sections 17-21

Breach of the case processing rules in the Public Administration Act sections 17-21 may result in the administrative decision being invalid; cf. the Public Administration Act section 41.

 

Gry Aalde
Head of Department

Contact: Analysis and Development Department

 

Latest changes
  • Opphevet: RS 2010-154 Partsinnsyn - Partens rett til å gjøre seg kjent med opplysninger i egen sak - forvaltningsloven §§ 17 -21 (5/27/2014)
    Replaced by:  RS 2014-010 Partsinnsyn - partens rett til å gjøre seg kjent med opplysninger i egen sak etter forvaltningsloven §§ 17 - 21

    Rundskrivet er opphevet og erstattet.

Norwegian Directorate
of Immigration
Utlendingsdirektoratet
P.O. box 2098 Vika
NO-0125 Oslo
Norway

Editor in Chief: Stephan Mo