The applicant checks if he/she fulfills the requirements for a residence permit. General information about residence permits can be found here.
The applicant obtains the appropriate application forms and information on the necessary supporting documents from the website of the Directorate of Immigration.
The applicant fills out the application form and obtains the required supporting documents. In many cases applicants must obtain documents both in Iceland and abroad (certificates in most instances). The main institutions in Iceland that have the documents applicants may have to submit are Registers Iceland, the Directorate of Internal Revenue, the office of the District Commissioner, educational institutions and the municipalities.
Foreign certificates must be verified with apostille signature or double confirmation as applicable. Translated versions are required of foreign certificates that are issued in other languages than English or in any Scandinavian language. Such translated versions shall be submitted in original format and must be prepared by authorized translators.
Applicants pay for their applications and submit them at the office of the Directorate of Immigration (or at the office of a District Commissioner if outside of the Reykjavík capital area) or mail them.
If payment for the processing of an application has not been received within 90 days from the application being submitted, the applicant is considered to have no further interest in pursuing the application and the application is returned to the applicant.
A first time applicant can expect that it may take up to 180 days from the time an application is submitted and paid for until it is processed at the Directorate. Applications for renewal are processed within 90 days from being submitted and paid for. The processing time can be longer if an application requires further processing in order to allow evaluation of whether an applicant meets the requirements for a residence permit.
Applicants are encouraged to be aware of all requirements of the residence permit they apply for, which documents are needed to support the application and how best to present the documents required to accelerate the procedure.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit satisfactory documents that fulfill all requirements. If, while the application is being processed, documents are found to be unsatisfactory or missing, a letter is sent to the applicant with explanations and requests for what is missing or lacking and a deadline is set for the submission of those documents. When documents are lacking or unsatisfactory, the processing of the application is halted. If the applicant does not submit the requested documents and respects the deadline given, the application is refused due to missing documents and unfulfilled requirements.
Applicants are permitted to ask for accelerated processing of their applications. A request for accelerated processing must be submitted to the Directorate in writing along with documents justifying the request (i.e. a medical certificate attesting serious illness from an appropriate specialist).
Please note that requests for accelerated processing are only approved in exceptional circumstances. According to the Administrative Procedures Act no. 37/1993, legal consistency and equality shall prevail in case procedures. The reason for a request for accelerated processing must be due to dire external circumstances which imply the necessity of processing a certain application ahead of any other application. Precondition of accelerated processing is that all relevant documents be submitted with the application.
Reasons for accelerated processing are for example, serious illness of the applicant; serious illness of an immediate family member or a natural disaster. The fact that an application was submitted too late for renewal, a planned trip abroad, whether for a holiday or for business, are not considered valid reasons for accelerated processing.
The refusal of accelerated processing of an application cannot be appealed to the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board as it is not a conclusive decision as defined by article 26 of the Administrative Procedures Act.
If an applicant meets all requirements for a residence permit, such a permit is granted and the applicant is sent a notification to this effect. If the applicant needs a visa in order to come to Iceland a request for the visa will be sent to the relevant embassy.
A residence permit will not be issued until the applicant has appeared at the office of the Directorate of Immigration or at an office of a District Commissioner outside of the Reykjavík capital area to be photographed, for notification of residence and for medical examination (within two weeks from the date of arrival in Iceland, if applicable). The applicant must bring his/her passport to prove his identity when being photographed.
When an applicant has met these requirements the residence permit is issued and a residence-permit card is ordered for the applicant. The preparation of the card takes about 10 days on average. The residence-permit card is sent by mail to the address which the applicant has stated.
A residence permit will not be issued if an applicant has not appeared to be photographed, has not stated his/her place of residence and undergone medical examination within 90 days from arrival in Iceland. This can lead to illegal stay, expulsion and a refusal of re-entry.
A renewal of a residence permit must be applied for at least four (4) weeks before the current permit’s period of validity expires.
If this is done, the applicant is authorized to stay in Iceland during the processing of the application. If an application for renewal is submitted less than four (4) weeks before the expiry of the residence permit, the applicant may have to leave Iceland for the duration of the processing of the application unless the applicant is exempt from the visa requirement or other exemptions apply.
If an application for renewal is submitted after the expiry of the first permit, the application will be processed as an application for a first residence permit.
The applicant must appear in person, with his/her passport, when renewing of the residence permit, either at the reception of the office of the Directorate of Immigration or at the office of a District Commissioner outside of the Reykjavík capital area. The applicant will be photographed and will be required to submit a signature sample.
The processing period for renewal is 90 days maximum from the date satisfactory documents have been received, except in more complex instances requiring further processing. If an applicant submits satisfactory supporting documents with his/her application the processing of the application usually takes less time.
If an applicant continues meeting the requirements for a residence permit, the permit will be renewed. The Directorate will order a residence-permit card, which will then be mailed to the applicant’s domicile (home address).
If the supporting documents of an application are unsatisfactory or if the applicant does not meet all the requirements for a residence permit, the Directorate of Immigration is not authorized to issue the permit.
All decisions to refuse applications for residence permits in Iceland are delivered in writing by the Directorate of Immigration and may be appealed to the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board. The applicant has15 days to appeal from receiving the decision.
Decisions to refuse a residence permit are sent by certified mail to the applicant. When a residence permit application has been refused, the applicant has 30 days to leave the country before his stay in Iceland is deemed illegal. Illegal stay in Iceland can result in expulsion and a refusal of re-entry.
If the applicant thinks he/she fulfills the requirements of a residence permit of a different type than the one formerly refused, he/she can submit an application to the Directorate within 30 days of receiving the refusal. The applicant must check whether he/she may stay in Iceland while the application is being processed.
Appealing a decision made by the Directorate of Immigration does not suspend its implementation except in circumstances where an appeal directly suspends implementation. That applies to refusals of permanent residence permits and refusal of renewal of a residence permit that was submitted before the deadline.
In any other instance the suspension of implementation of a refused decision is in accordance with Article 29 of the Administrative Procedures Act. The applicant can appeal the decision to the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board.
In the cases where an appeal automatically suspends implementation, the applicant will not be required to leave the country while his/her case is being processed and he/she has the same legal status as if the application had not been refused.
If an appeal does not suspend implementation, an applicant who has been refused a residence permit must leave the country within the timeframe given, or when a permission to stay on grounds of a visa free stay expires. If the applicant does not abide by the aforementioned requirement his/her stay in Iceland will be illegal, which can result in expulsion and a refusal of re-entry.