1.1. More stringent qualification requirements
2. Employees and employers who are covered by the circular
2.1. Ethnic cooks
2.2. Ethnic restaurants
2.3. Which other employers can hire ethnic cooks?
2.4. What other occupations are covered by this circular?
3. Requirements of applicants who are offered work in Norway as ethnic cooks
3.1.1. Documentation of education/training and experience
3.2.1. Special requirements for applicants from countries with a national certification scheme
188.8.131.52. China and Hong Kong
3.2. Relevance of expertise to work duties
3.3. Pay and assured subsistence
3.4. Other conditions
4. Sweet makers
5. Application procedure
6. Documentation requirements
7. Requirements of employers
7.1. The employer is an ethnic restaurant
7.2. The employer is a catering company
9. Power of decision
10. Content and duration of the permit
11. The following limitations apply to ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups:
12.2. Power of decision
The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can issue more detailed guidelines concerning which groups are covered by the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 second paragraph ('more stringent qualification requirements') and what conditions shall be set. This circular provides guidelines for residence permits for ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups. Religious leaders and teachers are also covered by the above-mentioned provision, but they are not included in this circular. For more information about the latter group, see UDI Circular 2011-046.
Pursuant to more detailed rules issued by the King in regulations, a residence permit can be granted in order to perform work for an employer in the realm, cf. the Immigration Act Section 23 first paragraph. Pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 first paragraph, a residence permit can be granted to employees whose vocational education at least corresponds to upper secondary school level, who have a craft certificate or education from a university college or university or have special qualifications. An applicant with such expertise is called a skilled worker.
When special considerations so indicate, the conditions can be made more stringent for categories of applicants by requiring vocational education at a higher level than upper secondary school, cf. the Immigration Regulations section 6-1 second paragraph. It follows from well-established administrative practice relating to the Immigration Act of 1988 and the Immigration Regulations of 1990 that more stringent qualification requirements shall apply to ethnic cooks and religious leaders and teachers. Pursuant to the preparatory works to the Immigration Act of 2008 and the Immigration Regulations of 2009, this practice will be continued. Reference is also made in this connection to Circular A-63/09 (Circular on the entry into force of the new Immigration Act and new Immigration Regulations from 1 January 2010) Appendix 6.
The more stringent qualification requirements in the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 second paragraph are applicable when the applicant is to prepare ethnic cuisine. Ethnic cuisine here means food that can be ascribed to a specific geographical origin.
Ethnic cook is a term used to describe a cook who prepares food that represents the culinary traditions of his or her home country.
Japanese cuisine includes some dishes that require a high level of specialist expertise. Sushi chefs are therefore also regarded as ethnic cooks, even if they only specialise in one area of their home country’s culinary tradition.
If the applicant comes from a different country than the one he/she shall prepare food from, he or she may nevertheless be deemed to be an ethnic cook. As a rule, the cook must have stayed for a prolonged period in the country in question and taken an education and/or acquired work experience there at a certain level.
A restaurant that offers food from one country only is designated an ethnic restaurant. A restaurant that serves food from several countries can also fall under the term ethnic restaurant. In such case, it is a condition that the culinary traditions of the countries in question are related. An indicator of this could be geographical proximity (for example the same continent) or common historical background.
If a restaurant serves food from several different countries without these countries having related culinary traditions, an ethnic cook can be granted a residence permit following a concrete assessment.
A catering company is a supplier of food and beverages to clients. If they only offer food from a single country, the company can hire one or more ethnic cooks, depending on their business concept. If food from several countries is offered, the conditions in 2.2. above apply correspondingly.
The same requirements regarding expertise, relevance and pay as apply to ethnic cooks at ethnic restaurants also apply to ethnic cooks working for catering companies.
It is assumed that sweet-makers also represent their home country’s culinary tradition. In this context, the term 'sweet-maker' is used to describe those whose occupation is to make sweets and cakes that are typical of India and Pakistan. The term may also be used to describe other foreign nationals who perform similar tasks.
Both the general conditions for residence permits for employees pursuant to the Immigration Act section 23 first paragraph, and the special conditions for a residence permit as a skilled worker pursuant to the Immigration Regulations section 6-1 must be met.
Pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 second paragraph, vocational education at a higher level than upper secondary school can be required if special circumstances so indicate. For an ethnic cook, this means that the person in question must be deemed to be a specialist in his/her profession.
If the applicant comes from a country that has an educational system for cooks, he or she must as a rule document such education and subsequent work experience. A minimum of ten years' education and/or experience is normally required. Pursuant to established administrative practice, only work experience acquired after reaching the age of 15 is accepted.
If no formal education exists for cooks in the applicant’s home country, the applicant must as a rule document a minimum of ten years' work experience as a cook in his/her home country. If some of the work experience was acquired in other countries, this experience can count if a concrete assessment so indicates. It is emphasised that it is not just the duration of the work experience that is an important factor in the assessment of whether a cook can be deemed to be an ethnic cook. It is also important what tasks and functions in a restaurant he or she has performed. The level the applicant has worked at must therefore be described. By this is meant his/her duties, functions/areas of responsibility and similar. At least half of the applicant’s work experience must be from a hotel or restaurant of a high standard. To substantiate that the work experience has been acquired at a restaurant of a high standard, documentation can, for example, be enclosed of the restaurant's size, menu and number of staff. What is deemed to be 'of a high standard' will require a concrete assessment.
Sushi chefs are traditionally trained through a long period of practical experience. As a rule, the applicant must document at least ten years' work experience, and must document that all practical experience has been part of the training for and subsequent work experience as a sushi chef. If a certificate/diploma is presented showing that the applicant has participated in a sushi course at an educational institution in Japan, the applicant must nevertheless document practical experience as a sushi chef.
If the applicant documents education and/or practical experience lasting less than 10 years, the applicant may nevertheless meet the more stringent qualification requirements. This will require a concrete assessment in each individual case.
Even if an ethnic cook has qualifications at a higher level than vocational education at upper secondary school, he or she may as a rule only work in an ethnic restaurant because the qualifications are deemed to be limited to one country's cuisine and cannot therefore be compared with ordinary vocational training as a cook. Similarly, an ethnic restaurant cannot as a rule hire cooks who can only document vocational training at upper secondary school level unless they have work experience corresponding to the requirement for ethnic cooks.
Education/training must be documented by certificates. A certificate must contain information about the degree achieved, the name of the educational institution, the duration of the education and in what period it was taken. The original certificate must be presented to the foreign service mission or the police.
Work experience must be documented by original copies of statements from previous employers. Such statements must state the applicant's period of employment (specified as the first and last date of employment) and must contain detailed information about the tasks the applicant performed, cf. 3.1. In addition, a brief description must be provided of the type/size and menu of the restaurant. Certificates of service that lack the above-mentioned information will carry less weight in the assessment of whether the applicant can be said to have documented sufficient qualifications. In an overall assessment, a statement from the employer in Norway can also be given weight.
The documentation of education/training and experience must also be translated into Norwegian or English.
Some countries have established a national certification scheme for vocational education. The Norwegian immigration authorities are aware that this applies to China and Thailand. For applicants from these countries, special requirements therefore apply as regards the documentation of education/training and experience. Applicants from other countries with a national certification scheme can also use such a certification scheme to document their qualifications. The immigration authorities will in such case assess whether the applicant's qualification level appears to be sufficient in relation to the more stringent qualification requirement and, in that connection, obtain further information about the basis for certification, if necessary.
a) The following requirements apply to cooks who are trained in and have practical experience from China; they also apply to cooks resident in Hong Kong:
The applicant must present a craft certificate as a cook from either the Labour Bureau or the Commercial Bureau in a provincial capital or in Beijing, Shanghai or Tianjin. The certificate must contain information confirming that he/she falls under one of the following categories:
- Senior technical cook (NVQ Level 1)
- Technical cook (NVQ Level 2)
The immigration authorities can ask the applicant to document all practical experience that led to the certificate as a 'senior technical cook' or 'technical cook'. In such case, the documentation must contain the information set out in 3.1.1 above.
b) The following requirements apply to cooks who have experience from Hong Kong, also if they are resident in China:
There is no formal training system for cooks in Hong Kong, and it must therefore be documented that the applicant has acquired specialist status through practical experience. The applicant must submit documentation confirming that he or she falls under one of the following categories:
In addition, the applicant must document work experience as a cook. Again, the main rule of at least 10 years' experience applies, cf. 3.1 above.
The following requirements apply to cooks who are educated/trained in and/or have practical experience from Thailand:
The applicant must as a rule submit a valid certificate from an official Skill Development Center or Skill Development Institute or another institution approved for this purpose by Thailand's Department of Labour. The certificate must contain information that the applicant has achieved the following qualification:
- Level 2 in National Skill Standard Testing of Thai Cooks
The immigration authorities can ask the applicant to document work experience as a cook. Again, the main rule of at least 10 years' experience applies, cf. 3.1 above.
It is a condition for a residence permit as a skilled worker that the applicant is a skilled worker and that his/her expertise is deemed to be relevant to the position, cf. Section 6-1 first paragraph letter a) of the Immigration Regulations. This means that the position offered must be of such a nature that it requires at least a vocational education or special qualifications, and that the applicant has the relevant expertise. More stringent qualification requirements apply to ethnic cooks, however, so that the condition in Section 6-1 first paragraph letter a) of the Immigration Regulations means that the position must require vocational education/qualifications at a higher level than upper secondary school. For this reason, not all tasks and business concepts in the field of food preparation are deemed to meet the relevance requirement.
For example, food preparation at snack bars, sales outlets that only offer takeaway meals, pizzerias and fast-food restaurants is not deemed to constitute skilled work that requires a vocational education, neither at upper secondary school nor at a higher level.
Cooks who will not prepare ethnic food, and who will not work in an ethnic restaurant or for a catering company that offers ethnic food are not covered by the more stringent qualification requirement discussed in this circular, and they will be assessed in relation to the conditions in the Immigration Regulations section 6-1 first paragraph.
It is a condition for a residence permit pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 that the pay and working conditions are not poorer than provided for in the applicable collective agreement or pay scale for the industry. If no such collective agreement or pay scale exists, the pay and working conditions must not be poorer than is normal for the occupation and place concerned, cf. Section 23 first paragraph letter b) of the Immigration Act.
It is a condition that the applicant is paid in accordance with the national collective agreement for hotel and restaurant workers between the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the Norwegian Hospitality Confederation, on the one hand, and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union in Norway, on the other (see www.fellesforbundet.no). Pursuant to this agreement, employees must be paid above the minimum rates in accordance with their skills, experience and education. The applicant's pay must therefore reflect his or her documented vocational education and/or experience. It is a requirement that an ethnic cook has qualifications at a higher level. It is therefore not sufficient to offer an ethnic cook the minimum wage rate for a skilled or unskilled cook.
If the applicant has more than ten years' vocational education and work experience altogether, he or she must be paid as a ‘worker with a craft certificate’, with a supplement for the number of years the applicant has worked as a cook. Pursuant to long-standing administrative practice, this applies to cooks from countries with a national certification scheme, currently China except for Hong Kong, and Thailand, cf. 3.2.1 letter a) and 184.108.40.206.
If the applicant can only document work experience as a cook, he or she must be paid as a ’worker without a craft certificate’ with a supplement for the number of years of work experience as a cook. This applies to cooks with work experience from Hong Kong, cf. 220.127.116.11 letter b).
Other benefits, for example free board and/or free lodging, are not accepted as part of the pay and must, if given, come in addition to the collective wage rate. Pay must be stated as gross pay per hour in NOK. It is not sufficient to state that the pay will be in accordance with the collective agreement.
Irrespective of the pay requirement, means of subsistence and accommodation must be ensured, cf. the Immigration Act section 58. Income from full-time work is generally deemed to be sufficient, cf. Section 10-7 first paragraph letter (a) of the Immigration Regulations.
In addition to the more stringent qualification requirement and requirements concerning relevance, pay and working conditions, other conditions also apply to resident permits for ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups. These conditions also apply to persons who apply for a permit pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 first paragraph, a skilled worker permit, and they are discussed in more detail in the circular RS 2014-018.
- The applicant must have an employer in Norway, cf. Section 23 first paragraph of the Immigration Act.
- A concrete and current offer of employment must exist, cf. Section 23 first paragraph letter d) of the Immigration Act.
- The offer of employment must be made on the prescribed offer of employment form and signed by both parties, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 6-9 first paragraph. The form is available on the UDI's website http://www.udi.no/
- As a rule, the offer of employment must be for full-time work for a single employer, cf. Section 23 first paragraph letter d) of the Immigration Act. If the employer runs several restaurants, it must be stated at which restaurant the applicant will work. A work permit will be linked to a specific restaurant. The applicant is normally not permitted to work at more than one restaurant in the same company at the same time. If the applicant is to work for the same employer but at a different restaurant than the one for which the permit was granted, an application must be submitted for a new first-time work permit.
- A permit may be granted even though the concrete offer of full-time employment is not for continuous work, cf. the Immigration Act Section 23 first paragraph letter d).
- It is a condition that the applicant is either covered by the quota stipulated by the Ministry of Labour in consultation with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Finance, or that the position cannot be filled by domestic labour or labour from the EEA, cf. Section 23 first paragraph letter c) of the Immigration Act, cf. the Immigration Act Section 6-1 first paragraph letter c) and Section 6-12.
- An accommodation requirement applies, cf. Section 58 of the Immigration Act.
Accommodation is deemed to be assured when a house, apartment, bedsit or similar that meets official requirements is at the foreign national's disposal, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 10-12.
Minimum ten years' work experience as a 'sweet-maker' is normally required. This must be documented through statements from previous employers, and the documentation must contain information about the applicant’s duties and the duration of his/her employment (specified by dates of the first and last days of employment). If the applicant has been self-employed, this must be documented. The applicant must in such case provide a brief description of the tasks he/she performed for the business.
The applicant must be paid in accordance with 'Main agreement between the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions – Agreement on Baker and confectioner professions' (see http://www.nnn.no/). The applicant’s pay must reflect his or her work experience in the industry, in accordance with length of service pay scales. A supplement in accordance with the relevant pay scale must be paid for night work.
For detailed information about the application procedure, see the circular RS 2014-018.
In order to apply for a residence permit from Norway, the only requirement is that the applicant is a skilled worker, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 first paragraph, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 10-1 first paragraph letter a). This also applies to ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups. The more stringent qualification requirement only applies when it is being considered whether a permit as an ethnic cook or similar occupation can be granted pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 second paragraph.
The body that receives the application must ensure that the applicant has filled in the relevant document list and submitted all documents in accordance with the list. The applicant shall be given a stamped copy of the document list as a receipt for submission of the documents.
The document lists are available on the UDI website:
- Ethnic cooks – These documents to be handed in when applying for residence permit
- Nasjonalitetskokk – Disse dokumentene må du levere inn når du skal søke om oppholdstillatelse
Original official documents (certificates of education, certificates of service etc.) must be presented to the foreign service mission/police, but they shall not be enclosed with the application. Only copies, certified by the foreign service mission/police, must be enclosed with the application. It is important that it is clearly stated that the foreign service mission/the police have seen the original document. A translation of the documents into Norwegian or English by an authorised translator must also be enclosed with the application.
A concrete offer of employment must have been made, cf. the Immigration Act Section 23 first paragraph letter d). To enable the immigration authorities to assess whether the offer is genuine, the employer must provide information about the place of work, cf. 7.1 and 7.2 below.
The employer must present the following documentation about the restaurant where the applicant is to work:
- licence to serve food
- financial profitability
- a brief description of the business concept
The employer must present the following documentation:
- financial profitability
- approval of the premises for food preparation
- a brief description of the scope of the business (number of assignments)
On receiving an application, the foreign service mission/the police must ensure that original diplomas/certificates of education and other certificates are presented. If originals are not presented, include a comment on this together with the applicant’s explanation. The foreign service mission/police shall give a brief explanation of any doubts concerning the genuineness of the documents when forwarding the case to the UDI.
The foreign service mission/the police shall forward the case documents without verification. The immigration authorities can verify information and documents presented in the case if the other conditions are deemed to be met. In such case, there must be justified doubts about the information provided in the case. For further information about verification, see the circular RS 2010-155.
The foreign service mission will be contacted if the Directorate of Immigration finds it necessary to verify certain/all case documents. Note that the case processing time in such instances will be longer.
First-time applications for a resident permit for ethnic cooks or similar occupational groups are decided by the Directorate of Immigration, cf. the Immigration Act Section 65 first paragraph.
A residence permit pursuant to the Immigration Regulations section 6-1 second paragraph is valid for a specific job for a specific employer, cf. the sixth paragraph of the provision. The job title and name of the restaurant/place of work shall be stated in the decision.
The permit does not entitle its holder to work in a different position or for another employer than stated in the decision, nor to engage in independent business activity as a main or secondary source of income.
The permit can be renewed, cf. the Immigration Act Section 61 first paragraph and the Immigration Regulations Section 21 second paragraph letter c).
The permit forms the basis for a permanent residence permit, cf. the Immigration Act Section 60 third paragraph letter d).
The permit forms the basis for family immigration, cf. Sections 40 to 42 of the Immigration Act.
A first-time residence permit for ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups is granted for a period of one year, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 10-16 second paragraph, but not, however, for a longer period than that applied for and not for a longer period than the duration of the employment relationship, cf. the fifth paragraph of the provision. If there are considerations indicating that the duration should be further limited, the permit shall be granted for a shorter period. An example of such considerations would be a need, at an earlier point in time, to check whether the conditions for the permit continue to be met. In this context, reference is made to the Immigration Regulations Section 10-16 fifth paragraph last alternative.
Ethnic groups and similar occupational groups and their employers are not covered by the early work-start scheme, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 6-8 second paragraph and Section 10-4 first paragraph.
A permit granted pursuant to the Immigration Regulations Section 6-1 second paragraph does not entitle its holder to stay in the country in order to seek work for up to six months after the expiry of the employment relationship, cf. the Immigration Regulation Section 6-11 second paragraph.
Ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups cannot stay in the realm without a residence permit in order to seek work, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 1-2 first paragraph.
Ethnic cooks and similar occupational groups shall not be granted an entry visa based on a concrete offer of employment from an employer in Norway, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 3-13 third paragraph. In this context, reference is made to the circular RS 2010-046.
An application for a residence permit as a skilled worker pursuant to Section 6-1 second paragraph of the Immigration Regulations shall be renewed provided that the requirements for a first-time permit are still met, cf. the Immigration Act Section 61 first paragraph. A renewed permit can be granted for the same work with the same employer, cf. the Immigration Regulations Section 10-21 second paragraph letter c). The renewed permit will be valid for a specific job and a specific employer. If the application for renewal is submitted no later than one month before the permit expires, the applicant is entitled to continued residence on the same conditions until the application has been finally decided, cf. Section 61 sixth paragraph of the Immigration Act.
In the case of applications for a residence permit on new factual grounds, the applicant is entitled to continued residence on the same conditions as applied to the previous permit until the application has been finally decided, provided that the application is submitted no later than one month before the permit expires and the applicant has had legal residence pursuant to a previous permit for at least the past nine months, cf. Section 61 seventh paragraph of the Immigration Act.
The application for renewal shall be submitted on the prescribed form to the police in the district where the applicant has his/her permanent place of residence, cf. Section 10-27 of the Immigration Regulations. Pay slips for the whole period for which the applicant has held a permit must be enclosed, as well as a certificate of pay and tax deducted for the last calendar year.
Applications for renewal of a residence permit for ethnic cooks or similar occupational groups are decided by the Directorate of Immigration, cf. the Immigration Act Section 65 first paragraph.
Karl Erik Sjøholt
Head of Department
The Managed Migration Department, Work Unit