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In Norway during the 1990s, a concept of temporary protection developed both as a principle of asylum for all refugees and as a tool for facilitating and coordinating asylum in situations of rapid and large-scale arrivals. Underpinning both applications was a presumption that protection needs for most refugees would resolve in the foreseeable future. During the subsequent two decades, however, policies making refugee protection less secure have intensified together with the fact that displacement worldwide is an increasingly protracted phenomenon.

This study provides a systematic overview of temporary protection practices in Norway, from the collective temporary protection granted to refugees from the Balkans conflict and the war in Ukraine to more indirect measures that reduce the security previously associated with refugee status recognized on an individual basis. It shows how temporariness results from 1) the proliferation of protection categories and differentiation of rights within them; 2) scrutiny of a refugee’s right to remain; 3) obstacles to accessing permanent residence and citizenship; and 4) barriers to family unity.