Coronavirus has a major impact on immigration of students
At the Finnish Immigration Service, summer is peak season for residence permit applications submitted by international students. This year, the number of applications submitted by students was significantly lower than last year.
Between June and September, 1,692 students applied for a first residence permit (3,909 in 2019). Between June and September, the Finnish Immigration Service issued 1,823 decisions on applications for a first residence permit for studies. Ninety per cent of the decisions were positive.
The Finnish Immigration Service uses partial automation in processing and deciding applications for first residence permits and extended permits for studies. Automation is used to check that certain requirements are met and to produce an automatic decision proposal, which will then be checked and confirmed by the person who processes the application. Last summer, this kind of partial automation was used in half of all applications processed by the Finnish Immigration Service.
Last summer, it took 15 days on average to get a decision on an application for a first residence permit.
Finnish Immigration Service is prepared for receiving applications from students
Students who apply for a first residence permit must prove their identity at a Finnish mission, which the Ministry for Foreign Affairs administers abroad. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Finnish missions have been able to receive only a very limited number of customers applying for a residence permit. By law, the processing of an application cannot begin before the customer has proved his or her identity.
“According to our information, many students begin studying remotely this year, because many educational institutions start providing contact teaching in January 2021 at the earliest. It is therefore expected that we get applications throughout the autumn. We are prepared for this, and the seasonal workers who have worked for us during the summer will continue working until the end of the year,” says Senior Adviser Janne Paananen.
The possibility of studying remotely does not affect the decision-making. The Finnish Immigration Service decides the applications in the order customers prove their identity at the missions.
Students apply for extended permits in Finland
Between June and September, 2,050 students applied for an extended permit (3,342 in 2019). It is possible to apply for an extended permit in Finland only. The Finnish Immigration Service issued 1,615 decisions on extended permits for studies between June and September. Ninety-seven per cent of the decisions were positive.
“If a student has applied for an extended permit before his or her previous residence permit expires, he or she can continue studying and working normally while his or her application is being processed,” says Paananen.
The Finnish Immigration Service recommends applying for extended permits online. That way, the applicant can save both time and money. If a student applies for an extended permit in the Finnish Immigration Service’s online service Enter Finland and uses strong electronic identification, he or she does not usually have to visit a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service to prove his or her identity. Strong electronic identification means, for example, that a customer logs in to Enter Finland using Finnish online banking credentials.