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Visas for Finland

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Regardless of your nationality, you may be able to work in Finland without a residence permit in some cases. For instance, if you’ve received an invitation to move to Finland, as part of a contract to work as a teacher, interpreter or a sports referee, if you’re here to pick berries, fruit or vegetables, or if you are in the country as an asylum seeker with valid travel documents. In all these cases though, you may not exceed the three-month time frame. You must, however, have a valid visa for Finland, if you’re not a Nordic citizen or a citizen of an EU member state.

For Nordic citizens

If you are a citizen of a Nordic country, you don’t need a residence permit, and you can work, study or launch your own business in Finland. When you first move though, you need to notify and register at the closest Local Register Office (maistraatti) to your place of residence. You need to do that in person, and at the latest one week after you move to the country. To register, you only need a valid identification card or a valid passport. You do not need to provide a reason for your stay or describe how you plan to support yourself. You can find more information here.

For citizens of EU-EEA

If you are an EU citizen (or a citizen of Liechtenstein or Switzerland), you also do not need a residence permit or visa to work, study or launch your business in Finland. You can stay in the country for up to three months without registering. After that, you must first register online using the Enter Finland service and then visit a service point (within three months of registering) of the Finnish Immigration Service to give proof of identity and present original copies of the application appendices. It would be a good idea to make your appointment for the service point in advance, using the online appointment booking service of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Once you have registered successfully, the Finnish Immigration Service will give you a certificate of registration of the right of residence of a Union citizen (Unionin kansalaisen oleskeluoikeuden rekisteröintitodistus). Your right of residence remains valid indefinitely, but after five years of continuous residence in Finland, you are also entitled to permanent residence. If you plan on staying for one year or more, you must also register at the Local Register Office (maistraatti).

  Important:

Check your Enter Finland account regularly, as this is the place where you’ll be notified in case further clarifications are needed for your application.

For non-EU-EEA citizens

If you’re not coming from an EU-EEA country, you will have to apply for a residence permit before coming to Finland -- but the online application service makes this process as smooth as possible. There are different scenarios, so read below to find what applies to your case.

If you’re looking for work

Jobseekers in Finland need a residence permit, but before it can be granted to you, you must first find a job in the country. Once you’ve secured your job position, you can apply for a residence permit -- and this needs to happen before you come to Finland. The type of residence permit, depends on the type of work, and you can check that at the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. For instance, if you’re a cook, a cleaner, a home-helper or a caretaker of kids, then you’ll be needing a “residence permit for an employed person”. For some other jobs (specialist and researcher posts, or posts in the fields of science, culture or the arts), you will not need a residence permit for an employed person, but you will need a residence permit for your specific occupation. If you already have a residence permit for Finland based on some other grounds (i.e. you’re a family member of a Finnish citizen or someone who has residence permit), you may be able to work without needing a specific residence permit.

You can apply for your permit online at the Enter Finland service: there is a fee of 450 euros to do so, and applications usually take three to four months to process. Within three months after applying, you must visit the closest Finnish diplomatic mission to provide proof of identity and present original copies of the application appendices.

Also, you may need to ask to be registered in the Finnish Population Information System at the same time (which means that you’ll have a Finnish personal identity code at the same time as your residence permit). While your first residence permit is being processed, you do not have the right to work -- and if you’ve applied for a residence permit abroad, you cannot enter Finland before the permit has been granted.

Those entering Finland to work as a special expert do not require a residence permit with either a visa or the right of residence for three months visa-free (which is dependent on your nationality). After the completion of three months, you need to follow the same process as everyone else and apply for a permit online through the Enter Finland service (or at a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service). The same fee of 450 euros applies.

  Important:

Your application cannot be fully processed until you have visited the Finnish diplomatic mission.

If you’re self-employed

Whether you will require a residence permit for a self-employed or employed individual will depend on the type of business you run. If your enterprise is an individually-owned business (toiminimi), you will need the former, whereas if your enterprise is a limited liability company, you will need the latter. You can find more information on how the form of your enterprise affects the type of residence permit you need, on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. Then, once you figure out what type you need, you can proceed to apply by following the same steps highlighted above, in the chapter for job seekers (the same fee of 450 euros applies in your case as well).

Bear in mind though that because you’re running a business, your residence permit application will be processed in two stages: First, the Employment and Economic Development Office (ELY-keskus) will make a partial decision on your application, based on whether your company has profitability potential. This will be determined as per your business plan or financing. The Finnish Immigration Service will decide whether to grant you a residence permit once the ELY-keskus has made a partial decision. In total, it might take up to nine months to process your application.

If you want to study in Finland

You need a residence permit if you want to study in Finland. If you are an exchange student or are in the country for reasons regarding your degree, you may also be eligible for a residence permit. In order to get it, you need to make sure you have the following:

  • Confirmation of a place in a Finnish educational establishment
  • A plan for your studies that will lead to an occupation, vocation or degree
  • Adequate funds for studying in Finland (approximately €560 per month or €6,720 euros per year)
  • Health insurance

Once you have completed your degree in Finland, you may be granted an extension to your student residence permit in the form of a temporary residence permit for a job application, which will allow you to apply for jobs in the country. The permit can last for up to twelve months, and it’s a good idea to apply for it before your student residence permit expires as this extension can be granted only once.

If you succeed in finding a job, you can begin working immediately, though you will need to apply for a new work-based residence permit before the expiration of the residence permit for job application. Follow the steps described above (the same fee applies). The good news is that if you have completed a degree in Finland, a partial decision from the TE Office will not be necessary in order to grant the permit, so things will move a bit faster.

 Useful Links:

Finnish Immigration Service
Enter Finland: Electronic Application for Residence Permit

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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