Illiteracy

We may grant you an exception to the language skills requirement if you were an adult and found to be illiterate when you came to Finland and are still unable to read and write in your native language or any other language.

However, an exception may be granted only if

  • you master at least elementary comprehension and speaking skills in Finnish or Swedish or
  • you have attended Finnish or Swedish language courses or training regularly and over a long period of time.

Exceptions to the language skills requirement cannot be made only on the grounds that you are unable to read and write in Finnish or Swedish. Insufficient language skills in writing or a slow ability to learn a language also do not justify an exception.

When your application is being processed, the Finnish Immigration Service takes account of all the information we have about you. We for example have access to all the information and certificates you have submitted about your health when you have applied for a residence permit in Finland.

What are the requirements for the attachments to the application?

If you are requesting an exception to the language skills requirement because you cannot read or write, you should attach the following documents to your citizenship application:

  • A certificate of your illiteracy issued by a Finnish or Swedish language teacher who has taught you personally.
  • One of the following certificates issued by a Finnish or Swedish language teacher who has taught you in person:
    1. A certificate showing that you have mastered elementary comprehension and speaking skills in Finnish or Swedish. The certificate must include a detailed assessment of your language skills for the various components of speaking and listening comprehension, using the skill levels A1.1 to C2.2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). or
    2. A certificate showing that you have regularly participated in studies in the Finnish or Swedish language. The certificate must include the time period when you participated in the language studies and a record of your attendance. Your participation in the studies is considered regular when you have attended Finnish or Swedish language courses for several years and when you are still continuing your studies or have only recently concluded them.
  • All other possible language course and study certificates of your language studies in the Finnish or Swedish language. The certificates must show when the courses have taken place and your record of attendance.

Elementary language skills justify an exception only if you have studied the language regularly

If you have been living in Finland for several years but have not even tried to study the language, an exception to the language skills requirement may not be possible in your case even if you had elementary comprehension and speaking skills in Finnish or Swedish.

It is hard to get by in Finnish society without sufficient language skills in Finnish or Swedish. An exception to the language skills requirement can therefore be made only if you have been able to show that you have actively tried to acquire and develop your language skills and have continuously studied Finnish or Swedish to the best of your abilities.

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