Special ties to Iceland

Foreign nationals from a country outside of the EEA and/or EFTA, who plan to stay in Iceland for more than three (3) months, must have a valid residence permit.

Granting a residence permit on grounds of the applicant’s special ties to Iceland is permissible. A residence permit on these grounds is only granted in exceptional instances and consideration must be made in every instance as to whether an applicant may receive a residence permit. In such evaluation, the family ties and stay in Iceland carry the most weight, however, in exceptional instances, a residence permit may be granted even though the applicant has never resided in Iceland.

Residence permits on the grounds of special ties to Iceland are granted based on Art. 78 of the Act on Foreigners No. 80/2016.

You may have a right to a residence permit on grounds of special ties if

  • You are older than 18 years,
  • you do not fall under other categories of residence permits or do not meet their requirements,
  • you have special ties to Iceland according to the Act and Regulation on Foreigners,
  • you can prove that you are able to provide for yourself during your time of stay in another way than receiving wages in Iceland,
  • you have not served a criminal sentence abroad during the last five (5) years or been sentenced by a court of law for an offense which would be punishable by more than three (3) months imprisonment according to Icelandic law, and
  • you have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond the estimated period of a residence permit.

You may not

  • be in Iceland if you need a visa to Iceland when the residence permit is applied for and while it is being processed. Such an application will be refused. (An applicant who does not need a visa may be in Iceland when the application is submitted and while it is being processed provided the stay in the Schengen Area does not exceed 90 days in the current 180 day period),
  • meet the requirements for other residence permits,
  • only have formed ties in Iceland on grounds of a residence permit for students, on grounds of agreements with other states, volunteers and missionaries, au-pair engagement, victims of human trafficking, temporary residence permit or long-term visa and/or,
  • base a right for a residence permit only on family ties, as such ties fall under family reunification,
  • work without a work permit,
  • work for an employer other than the one on which the work permit is based, 
  • stay in another country longer than three (3) months in every 12-month period of the residence permit period; otherwise, the residence permit may be canceled or revoked.

An application for a residence and work permit and supporting documents shall be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration or at the offices of the district commissioners outside of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Area.

An applicant who does not need a visa may stay in Iceland when submitting an application and while it is being processed, provided the stay in the Schengen Area does not exceed 90 days in the 180 day period. An applicant who needs a visa may not stay in Iceland when applying for the permit and while it is being processed. Such an application will be refused.

If an applicant does not fulfill these requirements and the requirements discussed below, the application for a residence permit will be refused and the applicant must leave Iceland. An applicant who does not leave the country may be subject to expulsion or a re-entry ban. A re-entry ban for Iceland is also a re-entry ban into the Schengen Area for a specific period of time or for a minimum of two (2) years.

The applicant is responsible for applying for renewal of his/her residence permit at least four (4) weeks before the validity of the permit expires. If this is done, the applicant is permitted to stay in Iceland while the application for renewal is being processed by the Directorate of Immigration. If a renewal of a residence permit is not applied for before the period of validity expires the application will be handled as if this were a first permit, not renewal. An application received after the period of validity of the previous permit has expired will be refused if the applicant does not have a permission to stay in Iceland while the application is being processed.


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