Rules on international students moving to Finland relaxed
With the entry into force of new legislation on 15 April 2022, students may now be granted residence permits for the entire duration of their studies. Students and researchers will also be eligible for a two-year permit to look for work after graduating.
Previously, students needed to apply for an extended permit every year even if their studies went on uninterrupted. The new rules also extend the time available for job searching after graduation.
As from 15 April, the changes concern all non-EU students who apply for a residence permit for their studies. The amended legislation will also see changes for researchers.
Residence permit applications submitted by international students typically peak in June and July. Last year saw some 5,800 non-EU students move to Finland.
“By doing away with the need to apply for a residence permit separately for each academic year, the new legislation makes international students’ lives easier. The amended rules also make sense from the perspective of public authorities, as residence permits can always be withdrawn if the relevant conditions are no longer met,” said Finnish Immigration Service Deputy Director-General Elina Immonen.
Students’ residence permits to cover entire duration of studies
As from 15 April, the Finnish Immigration Service will grant students residence permits for the entire duration of their studies. Previously, the validity period of students’ permits was capped at two years at a time. Most international students study at a higher education institution.
As a condition for receiving a residence permit, students will continue to have to demonstrate that they can fund their stay in Finland. International students are not entitled to the financial aid provided for students by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
With the new rules, students must prove that they have sufficient financial resources to cover the first year of their studies, defined as 560 euros per month or 6,720 euros per year.
Students are also allowed to work an average of 30 hours per week, up from 25 hours under the earlier rules. Previously limited to term time, the hours worked are now considered over the entire calendar year. The change aims to make it easier to track time worked for both students and employers.
Looking for work after graduation made easier
The new legislation will also make it easier for students to stay in Finland after graduating, as students and researchers can now apply for a two-year residence permit to look for work. Applications for the permit may be submitted up to five years from graduation, including from outside of Finland.
Permits for job searching could previously be only issued for one year, and applications had to be submitted in Finland while the student’s or researcher’s residence permit was still valid.
“The new rules on residence permits for job searching send a clear signal to international students that we want them to stay and work in Finland,” Immonen said.
From now on, degree students at higher education institutions will be granted a continuous residence permit and given a municipality of residence straight away. This marks a significant change, as holding a continuous residence permit makes it easier for students to obtain a permanent permit later. Previously, students could only be granted temporary residence permits.
“This is yet another signal to international students, namely that they are welcome to take part in the Finnish job market and to become members of Finnish society,” said Immonen.
The conditions for obtaining a permanent residence permit include a four-year period of continuous residence in Finland while holding a continuous residence permit. In future, the time spent living in the country with a residence permit for studies therefore counts towards the period of residence required for a permanent permit. The family members of students are also eligible to receive continuous residence permits in the same way.
Elina Immonen, Deputy Director-General, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: [email protected]