The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration is one of the divisions of the Ministry of the Interior and operates according to Act No. 96/2002 on Foreigners, Regulation on Foreigners No. 53/2003 and Regulation on Visas No. 1160/2010. The Act on Foreigners governs the rights of foreigners to enter Iceland and to reside in Iceland. According to the Icelandic Citizenship Act, any person who is not an Icelandic citizen is considered a foreigner.
The most extensive objective of the Directorate is issuing residence permits. The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration handles all applications for residence permits, whether those are permits in conjunction with a work permit, or e.g. family reunification, student permits, au pair permits, visas and requests for asylum. Other than this the Directorate is involved in many projects having to do with matters concerning foreigners and cooperates on many levels with other organizations. The Directorate works closely with the following organizations and branches of the government:
The Minister is the authority responsible for matters relating to the rights of foreigners. The Ministry sets the regulations governing the Directorate‘s mandate and the right of foreigners to enter Iceland and to their stay in Iceland. The Directorate’s decisions may be appealed to the Ministry of the Interior.
The Multicultural Centre has the fundamental role of facilitating communications between individuals of different backgrounds, and to enhance the services provided to foreign citizens residing in Iceland and to those interested in moving to Iceland. The Multicultural Centre offers assistance and counsel through phone in Icelandic, English, Polish, Serbian/Croatian, Thai, Spanish, Lithuanian and Russian. All communications with Multicultural Centre's personnel are bound by confidentiality obligations. In addition, it is always possible to seek information and assistance by e-mail.
The Multicultural Centre is located in Ísafjörður, and provides services for the whole country. Their website offers a lot of useful information along with word definitions in 8 languages; www.mcc.is.
The International Division of the National Commissioner of Police coordinates the policing through the country as to the affairs of foreigners and border patrol. The International Division is also involved in the affairs of asylum seekers and foreigners entering Iceland illegally. The police investigates their record and attempts to identify foreigners through cooperation with foreign authorities and organizations. The International Division further plans and executes deportation and expulsion of foreigners from Iceland.
The police force is involved in the affairs of foreigners in many ways, both as it applies to asylum seekers and other matters of foreigners. One of the most important roles of the police force in the case of foreigners is to control whether foreigners are legally permitted to stay in Iceland. The police force checks whether foreigners hold residence permits and if applicable, work permits. The police force further is in charge of border control, interviewing asylum seekers and deportation of foreigners.
The Directorate of Labour issues work permits for foreigners. A joint commission of the Directorate of Labour and the Directorate of Immigration is a very important venture, as the Directorate of Immigration issues residence permits according to the Act on Foreigners and the Directorate of Labour issues work permits according to the Foreign Nationals Right to Work Act. A foreigner can not be granted a work permit, unless he has been granted a residence permit from the Directorate of Immigration. Therefore the organized and close cooperation of the two directorates is essential.
Two Icelandic Embassies issue visas, i.e. the Embassy in Beijing and the Embassy in Moscow. The Ministry is responsible for representation agreements with other countries with respect to consulates handling visa applications on behalf of Iceland. The Directorate and the Ministry‘s Consular Affairs Unit work together regarding visa matters.
The Red Cross is involved in the affairs of foreigners in many ways, e.g. as advocate for asylum seekers. Furthermore the Red Cross assists foreigners as needed to access information on their rights and obligations in the Icelandic community, including dealing with the Directorate of Immigration.