A permanent residence permit entails the right to a permanent stay in Iceland. As a main rule an applicant must have stayed in Iceland for four (4) years on grounds of a residence permit that may be the basis of a permanent residence permit.
- Permit based on work requiring expert knowledge
- Permit based on shortage of workers
- Permit for athletes
- Permit for family reunification
- Permit on the grounds of international protection
- Permit on humanitarian grounds
- Permit based on special ties to Iceland
- Permit for students, with limitations
An applicant may have the right to a permanent residence permit after a shorter stay than four (4) years or without the requirements regarding a previous stay being met. Other requirements than the requirement on stay must also be met.
You may have the right to a permanent residence permit if all the following requirements are met together with others
- You meet the time requirements that apply to you;
- meet the requirements of your current residence permit;
- have sufficient wages, own money or other reliable means of support;
- have had secure means of support and been able to provide for yourself in a lawful manner;
- have attended a course in the Icelandic language for 150 hours as a minimum or have undergone a status test in the Icelandic language.
You may not
- Have received financial assistance by a municipality or the state;
- have unfinished affairs with the police or court;
- have unfinished affairs with the authorities that may result in your expulsion from Iceland.
An application for a permanent residence permit must be submitted at least four (4) weeks before the expiry of the current permit. If the application is received four (4) weeks before the current permit expires the applicant is permitted to stay in Iceland while the application is being processed.
If the application is submitted after the current residence permit expires, the applicant's stay in Iceland is not considered continuous and the applicant is not entitled to a permanent residence permit. Thus, the application will be refused. The applicant can then submit a new application that will be processed as if it were an application for a first permit.
Please note that it is always in the applicant's best interests to have a valid residence permit, even if an application for a permanend residence permit has been submitted and is being processed at the Directorate.
Rights attached to a permanent residence permit
- The permit holder has the right to a permanent stay in Iceland.
- The permit holder receives an unlimited work permit and may work or change work without applying at the Directorate of Labor.
- The permit holder has the right to family reunification for:
- a spouse or cohabitor after at least one (1) year of cohabitation.
- children under the age of 18. if the permit holder has custody of the children,
- parents who are 67 years of age or older
- The residence permit allows a stay abroad for up to 18 months over a four year (4) period, without the permit becoming invalid. A stay abroad may affect an application for Icelandic citizenship.
Further information on students residence permit
An applicant for a permanent residence permit must have lived in Iceland consecutively during the last previous years with a residence permit that could be the basis of a permanent residence permit. A stay is considered consecutive (unbroken) if the applicant has not stayed abroad for more than 90 days per year based on the residence permit’s period of validity.
As a general rule an applicant must have had a residence permit in Iceland for four (4) years, i.e. on the basis of work requiring expert knowledge, to have the right to a permanent residence permit.
Exemptions from this general rule apply to the follwing:
Spouse of an Icelandic citizen
A foreigner who is married or in registered cohabitation with an Icelandic citizen and has lived with him/her in Iceland with a valid residence permit for at least three (3) consecutive years after marriage or the establishment of registered cohabitation. The residence permit may have been issued on other grounds than marriage or cohabitation .
Child of an Icelandic citizen
A foreigner whose parent is an Icelandic citizen may apply for a permanent residence permit after at least two (2) years of consecutive stay before submitting an application. The requirement is that the parent of the applicant has had Icelandic citizenship for at least five (5) years. Not significant in this instance is whether a residence permit held by the applicant could be basis for a permanent residence permit.
Child born in Iceland
A child born in Iceland may apply for a permanent residence permit if his/her custodian parent has a permanent residence permit.
Youth 18 years of age or older
A youth who has reached the age of 18 and has stayed in Iceland for four (4) years or more on grounds of family reunification and has studied or worked in Iceland.
A foreigner who has had a residence permit that may be the basis of a permanent residence permit for at least two (2) years and has previously resided in Iceland continuously under a residence permit in connection with study, such that the total continuous stay exceeds four (4) years.
A foreigner who has completed his/her doctorate studies in Iceland and has had a residence permit on grounds of work requiring professional expertise for at least three (3) years prior to submitting an application.
Former Icelandic citizen
A foreigner intending to settle down in Iceland and who was an Icelandic citizen at birth, however, has lost his/her citizenship or has waived his/her citizenship may apply for a permanent residence permit in Iceland without having lived in Iceland before.
An applicant must have attended a course in Icelandic for foreigners for at least 150 lessons and his/her class attendance must have been at least 85%. An applicant may also undergo an assessment test in the Icelandic language held by an educational institution acknowledged by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
Exemptions from the requirement regarding a course in Icelandic are as follows:
- The applicant is older than 65 and has lived in Iceland for at least the past seven (7) years, or
- the applicant is unable to attend a course in the Icelandic language for physical or mental reasons and this is confirmed by a competent specialist, or
- the applicant is able to submit documents confirming that he/she has completed study in the Icelandic language at primary, secondary or university level which gives cause to assume that the relevant applicant has obtained satisfactory knowledge of the Icelandic language.
An applicant must prove that his/her means of support has been secure during time of stay and that he/she was able to provide for him-/herself in a lawful manner during the stay in Iceland. Payments in the form of social assistance by the state or municipality are not considered as secure support. If means of support has been unsecure for a short period of time, however, deviating from this requirement is permitted, for example, because of maternity leave or accident.
The requirements on means of support do not apply to applicants whose current residence permit is on grounds of international protection or humanitarian grounds.
The application for a permanent residence permit shall be submitted at the Directorate of Immigration or at the offices of district commissioners outside of the Reykjavík metropolitan Area.
The application shall be accompanied by any such documents as required by the Directorate of Immigration confirming that the requirements for a permanent residence permit are met.
- Application for a permanent residence permit, in original format, carefully filled out and signed by the applicant
- Photocopy of passport. The period of validity must be at least 90 days beyond of the period of validity of the residence permit. This must include photocopies of the passport’s personal information page and the page containing the applicant’s signature
- Documents on support, including income-tax payment overviews for the last 12 months, employment contract or other documents showing secure support.
- Confirmed copies of recent years’ tax-return forms, i.e. in accordance with the time requirements that apply to the applicant.
- Original certificate on an Icelandic-language course, stating that the applicant has completed at least 150 lessons with 85% class attendance, an assessment test organized by an acknowledged party, a written exemption request or a medical certificate regarding an exemption request.
Documents that may be submitted
- Power of Attorney signed by two (2) witnesses. The Power of Attorney does not have to be submitted unless the applicant wants someone other than him/her to receive information about the processing of the application by the Directorate of Immigration.
The applicant is responsible for submitting the necessary supporting documents with his/her application. If satisfactory documents are not received by the Directorate of Immigration, this may result in delays in processing the application, or in the application being refused. The Directorate of Immigration may request additional information when special circumstances warrant it.
If an applicant does not meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit, the application for a permanent residence permit will be refused.
In such an instance the applicant must submit an application for the renewal of the previous permit or an application for a new permit. If this is not done the applicant’s stay in Iceland will become illegal, which may result in expulsion and a re-entry ban.
If the application is submitted after the residence permit expires, the applicants stay in Iceland is not considered continuous and the applicant is not entitled to a permanent residence permit. Thus, the application will be refused. The applicant can submit a new application that will be processed as if it were an application for a first permit.
The Directorate of Immigration decides whether a permanent residence permit should be revoked in the instance of a permit holder having stayed abroad longer than 18 months during a four year (4) period. A foreigner’s permanent residence permit is automatically revoked when his/her domicile which was registered in Iceland, however, has been registered abroad for 18 months consecutively. Subject to a presentation of an application, a foreigner may be authorized longer stay abroad without his/her permanent residence permit becoming invalid if the holder of the residence permit:
- has to serve in the military forces or other similar service in his/her home country;
- has to stay abroad temporarily because of his/her or spouse’s work;
- has to stay abroad together with spouse, cohabiting partner, mother or father who holds a pay job with the Icelandic state or is an employee of an international organization;
- has to stay abroad due to his/her temporary illness or that of a close relative, cf. Art. 69 of the Act on Foreigners.
The applicant must submit a written request for an authorization to stay abroad longer than 18 months over a four year (4) period. Such a request must be received by the Directorate of Immigration before the stay abroad reaches 18 months. The request shall be accompanied by documents confirming the need to stay abroad, for example, a medical certificate or other documents as required by the Directorate of Immigration.