Rights

Applicants and others involved in the application process are urged to study the rights derived from each type of residence permit, as they vary.



Family reunification

Residence permits based on family reunification for immediate family members are granted according to Article 13 of the Act on Foreigners No. 96/2002. Rights associated with each type of permit are different.


Family members of Icelandic citizens

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.  Visas are not issued to those individuals in order to travel to Iceland until a permit has been granted.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Only spouses/cohabitants of Icelandic citizens have the right for further family reunification.  That is, immediate relatives of their children or parents cannot apply for family reunification. Example: an individual who has a residence permit as the child of a spouse of an Icelandic citizen marries a foreigner.  That spouse cannot apply for a residence permit on grounds of family reunification, but has to apply on other grounds, e.g., special ties.


Rights to work

  • A spouse of an Icelandic citizen does not require a work permit.
  • A cohabitant and other relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Residence permit not required

  • Upon residing legally in Iceland for a determined period of time, the following individuals do not require a residence permit:
    • Spouse – when he/she has had a residence permit in Iceland continuously for three years on the grounds of marriage.
    • Cohabitant – when he/she has had a residence permit in Iceland continuously for five years from the registration of cohabitation.
    • Child of an Icelandic citizen – when he/she has resided in Iceland for either two or five years, see further information here.


Family member of a foreigner holding a permit as a qualified professional

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Family member of a foreigner holding a permanent residence permit

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Family member of a PhD student

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Family member of a PhD student cannot be granted a work permit.


Family member of an athlete

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • If the individuals holding those permits stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period, the permit is revoked.
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Family member of an athlete cannot be granted a work permit.


Family member of a foreigner holding a permit granted on humanitarian reasons

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Family member of a foreigner holding a permit on grounds of special ties

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Family member of a recognized refugee

  • Spouses, cohabitants and children are allowed to stay in Iceland when applying for the first permit, if they are already in Iceland.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Relatives may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.
  • A child under the age of 18 does not need a work permit, but if he/she intends to work after reaching the age of 18, a work permit is required.


Work and residence permit

Permits are granted for qualified professionals, athletes and on the grounds of shortage of labourers.

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • The permit is granted for one year at a time.


These rights are associated with the following permits:

Qualified professional

  • Family reunification is allowed.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.


Athlete

  • Family reunification is allowed.
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit.


Shortage of labourers

  • Family reunification is not allowed.
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • The permit may be renewed once, i.e. total stay cannot be more than two years. In specific circumstances, when predetermined projects require longer to complete than two years, permits may be renewed further.
  • Those who have completed two years holding this type of permit cannot apply for the same type of permit until he/she has resided in another country for at least two years.


Residence permits for students

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • Family reunification is not allowed, except for PhD students and students from the USA.
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • Permits for students are issued for six months at a time (one semester), except for PhD students, who are issued permits for one year at a time.
  • Students can apply for a work permit for employment of up to 15 hours a week (40%) unless the work is during breaks or for internship, but cannot work until the work permit has been approved.
  • Those who have had residence permits as students can, after completion of studies, apply for permits as qualified professionals if the employment is in his/her field of expertise. However, it is not certain that a permit will be granted.


Au pair permits

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • Family reunification is not allowed
  • These permits are not basis for a permanent residence permit
  • Au pairs are not allowed to work in the general workforce.
  • The permit is issued for one year and is not renewable.
  • Anyone who has had a permit as an au pair cannot be granted a work and residence permit in Iceland until he/she has resided in another country for at least two years from the end of the au pair permit.


Special connection to Iceland

  • The applicant is not allowed to be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • Family reunification is allowed.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • The permit is granted for one year at a time.
  • Applicants may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.


Residence permits on humanitarian grounds

  • The applicant must be in Iceland when applying for the first time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than three months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • Family reunification is allowed.
  • These permits are basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • The permit is granted for one year at a time.
  • Applicants may apply for a work permit, but cannot start working until the application for a work permit has been approved.


Permanent residence permit

  • A permanent residence permit is an indefinite permit to reside in Iceland.
  • If the permit holder has a permanent work permit, that permit is not dependent on a specific employer.
  • The permit holder is allowed to stay in another country than Iceland for up to 18 months in each four year period. Upon a written request, the Directorate may grant permission for a stay abroad longer than 18 months, in certain circumstances. The request for an extended stay abroad must be submitted ahead of time.
  • Family reunification is allowed.
  • Those who were granted permanent residence permits as children are allowed to work.


Family member of an EEA or EFTA citizen – Right to stay

  • The applicant is allowed to be in Iceland when applying for a residence card for the first time.
  • The residence card is issued for five years at a time.
  • Individuals holding those permits are not allowed to stay in a country other than Iceland for more than six months in each twelve month period. In cases where an individual legally resides in a country other than Iceland the permit is automatically revoked, in other cases the Directorate of Immigration decides whether to revoke or cancel each permit, see here.
  • A family member may be granted an unlimited right to stay after residing in Iceland for five consecutive years, see here.
  • A right to stay is not a basis for a permanent residence permit.
  • The applicant does not require a work permit.
  • The right to stay is automatically revoked if the applicant has legal residence in another country for two consecutive years.