The applicant submits an application
The applicant checks if he/she fulfils the requirements of a residence permit. General information about residence permits can be found here.
Applications for a residence permit and checklists can be found on the Directorate‘s website or at the Directorate‘s office during office hours.
The applicant must check if he/she is permitted to be in the country while his/her application is being processed. Different regulations apply to each type of residence permit. See rights associated with different types of permits here.
The applicant must fill out the application and obtain the accompanying documents according to the checklist associated with his/her application. Some documents may be required from abroad (in most cases certificates) and from Iceland. Icelandic documents are mostly procured from Registers Iceland, District Commissioners, Directorate of Customs, schools, local municipal offices, and the Directorate of Internal Revenue.
Certain documents require an apostille certification or a double authentication by the home country’s ministry for foreign affairs and the embassy of the relevant state in Iceland, or the nearest embassy. See further information here.
Please note that a translation is required of all certificates which are not in English or one of the languages of the Nordic countries. The translation should be an original and must be by a certified/sworn translator. See further information here.
The applicant must pay the handling fee and submit his/her application at the Directorate of Immigration in Skógarhlíð, or post the application to the Directorate, including the receipt for payment of the handling fee. See further information about payment of handling fee here and information about the opening hours and the address of the Directorate of Immigration here.
Processing of an application
When payment of the handling fee for an application has been confirmed, the application procedure begins. The processing time of an application can be up to 90 days from the time all requirements have been fulfilled and all documents deemed satisfactory.
Applications that meet all requirements and include satisfactory documents are given priority, but all applications are processed as quickly as possible.
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 fulfil 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 due to this. If the applicant does not submit the requested documents and respect the deadline given, the application is refused due to missing documents and unfulfilled requirements.
Request for accelerated processing
Applicants are permitted to ask for accelerated processing of their applications. This must be done in writing with reasoned justification and submitted in its original to the Directorate. Requests will be answered within 1 - 2 weeks.
Please note that requests for accelerated processing are only approved within very strict circumstances. The reason for the request of 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, the serious illness of the applicant; the serious illness of an immediate family member or perhaps 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 reasons for accelerated processing.
The denial 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.
First residence permit
If the applicant fulfils all conditions of a residence permit, the permit is granted/issued. Residence permits are issued for one year at a time.
After the applicant has been granted a residence permit for the first time an announcement stating the granting of a residence permit is sent to the applicant. If the applicant requires a visa to enter the country, a D-visa is issued and sent to the issuing Embassy stated in the applicants’ application. The announcement declaring the granting of a residence permit also states that:
- The applicant has to be photographed in order to be issued a residence permit card. The photo can be taken at the Directorate of Immigration office or at the offices of the District Commissioners outside the capital area. Please note that photos cannot be taken at the office of the Reykjavik District Commissioner.
- The applicant needs to undergo a medical exam within two weeks from entering Iceland. The medical exam must be in accordance to the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases. Applicants from certain countries are exempt from having to ungergo a medical exam. For information see list from the Directorate of Health.
When the applicant has been photographed and the medical exam certificate has been submitted to the Directorate, the residence permit is issued and the residence permit card ordered. The manufacturing of the residence permit card takes on average around 10 days and is sent by post to the address in Iceland stated by the applicant in his/her application.
If the applicant has not been photographed and/or had a medical exam within two months of his/her arrival in Iceland, the residence permit will not be issued and the applicant’s stay in Iceland will be deemed illegal. Illegal stay in Iceland can result in expulsion and a prohibition of re-entry according to Article 20 of the Act on Foreigners no. 96/2002.
Renewal of a residence permit
The applicant must be in Iceland when submitting an application for renewal of a residence permit. The applicant must show up in person at the Directorate of Immigration or at a District Commissioner’s office to submit his/her application and be photographed.
The processing time of a renewal is no more than 90 days, when all documents have been submitted and deemed satisfactory. If all documents are submitted with the application, the processing time is generally much shorter.
The Directorate of Immigration orders a residence permit card, when the application has been fully processed, which is then sent to the applicants legal address.
If the applicant does not fulfil all the conditions of a residence permit, the application is denied. The applicant must fulfil all basic requirements for a residence permit as well as any special requirements of the specific residence permit type for which he/she is applying. If the requested documents are not satisfactory, the Directorate of Immigration is not allowed to issue a residence permit. This is true for example if the Directorate of Labour denies an application for a work permit, or when the applicant has insufficient financial support.
All decisions to deny applications for residence permits in Iceland are delivered in writing by the Directorate of Immigration and can be appealed to the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board.
Decisions to deny a residence permit are sent by certified mail to the applicant.
When a residence permit application has been denied, 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 prohibition of re-entry according to Article 20 of the Act on Foreigners no. 96/2002.
If the applicant thinks he/she fulfils the requirements of a residence permit of a different type than the one formerly denied, he/she can submit an application to the Directorate within 30 days of receiving the denial. The applicant is not allowed to be in the country while the new application is being processed. If the applicant is unwilling to leave the country while the new application is being processed, a written request for exemption must be submitted to the Directorate. Each request is then viewed individually and a decision made whether to grant exemption or deny.
If an application for a residence permit is denied the applicant can appeal the decision to the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board. The applicant has 15 days to appeal a decision.
Suspension of Implementation
Appealing a decision made by the Directorate of Immigration does not suspend its implementation except in circumstances where an appeal directly suspends implementation of a decision according to Article 31 of the Act on Foreigners:
- If a permanent residence permit is denied
- If the denial is for the renewal of a residence permit which falls under Paragraph 2 of Article 14 of the Act on Foreigners.
In any other instance the suspension of implementation of a denied 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 case is being processed and he/she has the same legal status as if the application had not been denied. If an appeal does not suspend implementation, an applicant who has been denied a residence permit must leave the country within the timeframe given, or his/her stay in Iceland will be deemed illegal.