Department of Sociology

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A Real Marriage? Applying for Marriage Migration to Norway

Helga Eggebø has published a new article in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

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Marriages of convenience have become a central concern in political debates about immigration policy. According to Norwegian regulations, the right to marriage migration only applies to ‘real’ relationships. The notion of a real or genuine marriage, as opposed to a marriage of convenience, raises the question of what characterises a legitimate intimate relationship. Based on interviews with the parties involved, this article investigates how marriage migrants and their partners perceive the application process for marriage migration to Norway, and how they are affected by the idea of marriages of convenience. It argues that the scholarly literature on contemporary intimate relationships is relevant to studies of migration and provides important insights into the narratives of marriage migrants and their partners. On the one hand, ‘the pure relationship’ seems to be one standard against which cross-border marriages are sometimes judged. On the other hand, the ideal of the pure relationship is also used by marriage migrants and their partners to question immigration regulations. The pure relationship is one, but far from the only, normative ideal present in the narratives of my interviewees. Interviewees draw on several different, and sometimes contradictory, norms, ideals and narratives of intimacy when they talk about and justify their own relationships, after being confronted with the immigration regulation's requirement for a ‘real marriage’.

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