What to Expect from Finnish Immigration Laws?

Posted by | 3rd October 2012 | Finland Immigration, Moving to Finland, Why Finland

Immigrating to a foreign country is always difficult and often people get overwhelmed by the wealth of information they have to take in and the strict immigration laws. Finland is no exception and we have decided to put together this short guide as a result of the many enquiries we have received from our visitors over the last few weeks.

Visit Visas and Residence permits

If you are an EU/EEA citizen and you want to visit Finland for a period of up to three months, you do not need a visa. Also, people from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland are also eligible to live and engage in seasonal work without a residence permit.

If, however, you intend to stay in Finland for more than three months, you need a residence permit. You can either apply for it at the Finnish Embassy in your country or if you are already in Finland, you need to register to your local Police Station where you may be able to apply for the Residence permit.

For more information about your employment rights in Finland, visit our guide to Finland’s employment regulations.

For more information and printable Residence permit application forms, log onto www.migri.fi.

Finally, citizens from Nordic countries (Scandinavian Peninsula) do not need a Residence permit according to the Finnish immigration regulations.

Study Residence Permits

Foreign students make up the biggest proportion of people who come to Finland and over the recent years, the number of foreign people coming to Finland to study has been increasing due to the popularity of the educational system.

Similar to the requirements for the Residence permit, if you come to Finland to study for more than three months, a temporary Residence permit is required if you are a non-EU/EEA citizen. Generally, such Residence permits for study are awarded for one year, with the possibility for them to be extended.

If you are a EU member state citizen, you do not need a Residence permit for study.

In addition, non EU/EEA nationals coming to study in Finland must be covered by a private health insurance for the duration of their study, if this is more than three months. Citizens of EU/EEA and Nordic countries do not need private health insurance as they are covered by the state medical system.

Employment Residence Permits

Fireman in action

Fireman in action

Nationals of EU/EEA countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland can seek employment without a work permit. However, citizens from countries that joined European Union in 2004 have to register for one at the Finnish Immigration Office.

Non EU/EEA citizens must apply for a work permit and can only become employed once this is granted.

Finnish companies can also apply on behalf of the applicant seeking employment and relevant application forms can be downloaded from the Employment and Economic Development Office in Finland.

There is also the option to work as a skilled worker which companies in Finland are regularly looking to hire. Most popular sectors include education, agriculture, finance, hospitality, health, constructions and IT. Salaries in Finland are generally high and allow for more than a decent lifestyle but this is a subject we aim to cover separately.

Making Finland Your Home

If you wish to apply for Finnish citizenship, there are several categories with corresponding requirements.

As a general requirement for  Finnish citizenship is that you live in Finland and have lived there for a sufficient length of time which is defined differently in different cases, as per below:

A. You have a Finnish spouse

  • If your husband or wife is a Finnish citizen, it is sufficient that you have lived in Finland and
  • you have lived there for four years without interruption or
  • you have lived in Finland for a total of six years after turning 15.

In addition, you must be able to prove that you live with your spouse, and you must have done so for at least three years. If your spouse is deceased but he or she was a Finish citizen, you must have lived with him or her for at least three years before his or her death.

Note: ‘Spouse’ refers to a husband, wife, common-law husband or wife, and persons living in a registered relationship.

B. Nordic citizen

If you are a citizen of Iceland, Norway, Sweden or Denmark it is enough that you have lived in Finland for the past two years without interruption in order to be eligible for Finnish citizenship.

C. You are a refugee

If you are a registered refugee in Finland, it is enough that you have lived in Finland for:

  • the past four years without interruption or
  • for a total of six years after you reached the age of 15.

D. You are stateless

If, against your will, you are not a citizen of any state, it is enough that you have lived in Finland for:

  • the past four years without interruption or
  • a total of six years after you reached the age of 15.

A final requirement is that you have the required language skills and close ties with Finland

If you have the required Finnish language skills to apply for citizenship and you have close ties with Finland because you have legally lived there for a long time, it is enough that your actual home and residence have been in Finland for:

  • the past four years without interruption or
  • a total of six years after you reached the age of 15.

In the majority of all other cases, you can apply for Finnish citizenship after residing in Finland for an uninterrupted period of five years.

The processing fees for residence permits vary; if you are applying for the first time the fees is 385 Euros. First residence permit for employment reasons is 440 Euros and first residence permit for study is 250 Euros. The administration fee for a citizenship application is 440 Euros.

This is not meant to be a complete guide to the Finnish immigration laws but we hope you found this useful.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to comment and subscribe to our blog and we will make sure you will get the informations you need.

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