The rules for entry and residence are different on Svalbard than in mainland Norway. Although Norway is a part of the Schengen Agreement, Svalbard is excluded. Norwegian authorities do not require a visa for entry to Svalbard in itself, but if you have visa requirements to Norway / Schengen, then you must have a visa there if you are traveling through Norway / Schengen on the way to or from Svalbard.
If you are considering coming to Svalbard to stay, there are several important factors you should consider.
It is difficult to find employment and housing, and the climatic conditions are very demanding compared to most other places in the world. The cost of living is high, and the Governor can reject persons who do not have the means to stay in the archipelago.
The Immigration Act and the Svalbard Treaty
The Immigration Act regulates foreigners’ entry to and stay in mainland Norway but not in Svalbard, even though Svalbard is part of Norway. This is because the Svalbard has a special international legal status. An international treaty, the Svalbard Treaty, sets the framework for Norwegian exercise of authority on Svalbard in some areas. In Article 3 of the Treaty states that the citizens of all countries that have signed the treaty, shall have equal rights to access and stay in Svalbard. As a consequence, the Immigration Act does not apply, and Svalbard is held outside the Schengen agreement.
Visa and entry to Svalbard
Svalbard does not have any visa requirements. Foreigners do not need a visa or working permit from the Norwegian authorities. Foreign nationals with visa requirements to the Schengen area, must have a visa to Schengen while traveling through mainland Norway on the way to or from Svalbard. It is important to ensure that researchers get permission to two entries in their visas could to be able to return to the Schengen area (mainland Norway) for stays of Svalbard.
Conditions for residence in Svalbard
Although one does not need a visa or a residence or work permit, must all meet certain requirements in order to be on Svalbard. These requirements are regulated in special regulations called “Regulations concerning rejection and expulsion of people from Svalbard”. Among the requirements is that you must have the means to live on Svalbard. These requirements apply to both foreigners and Norwegians, and the Governor can reject persons who do not meet the requirements. Those who plan to come to the archipelago, are advised to obtain work and residence before they arrive.
It is not easy to find work in Longyearbyen, and for most positions, speaking the norwegian language is mandatory. The public employment service in Norway publishes the list of vacancies in Norwegian, but not in English. NAV, however, does have english pages with general information about working in Norway, and you can contact them to inquire further. Another option is to contact the various employers in Longyearbyen directly.
The housing market on Svalbard differs from the housing market in mainland Norway. Most residences owned by the various employers who offer them to employees as part of their employment. In other words its difficult to get the housing if you do not have jobs. The Norwegian government owns virtually all land on Svalbard, and it is in practice not possible to buy land to build their own homes. A few private homes are built on rented ground that are sold or rented out to private individuals in Longyearbyen, but house prices are very high. In general Norway is among the countries with the highest housing and living expenses.
Travel from Svalbard to mainland Norway / Schengen area and citizenship
Foreigners who stay in Svalbard can submit applications for visa to Norway / the Schengen area, applications for work / residence permit in Norway and applications for Norwegian citizenship at Governor Office. However, it is important to be aware that even if you come to Svalbard and settles here, that in itself will not entitle you to residence permits or citizenship in mainland Norway.
Source: Governor of Svalbard