A Finland residence permit is a document that is issued to foreigners who want to live and work in Finland and not in their current country of residence. The permit can be either short-term or long-term.
Types of Finland Residence Permits
Generally speaking, Finland residence permits are divided according to their length and according to the applicant’s reason for applying for a permit. Lengthwise there are two types of permits:
- Fixed-term permit. These are permits that are issued for a fixed period, they can be of two types:
- Temporary B permit. This is usually valid for a year and it needs to be extended every year.
- Continuous A permit. This permit is valid for four years and you can extend it every four years.
- Permanent permit. This is a permit that is typically valid indefinitely; unless you wish to cancel your residence permit or you violated the permit rules and your permit is revoked.
Reason-wise there are several types of residence permits:
- Residence permit for work. You need to have a valid work contract in order to qualify for this type of permit. This visa is typically valid for a year, however, at times it can be issued for the validity of your work contract.
- Residence permit for studies. A student residence permit is valid for two years, if your studies last less than two years then your permit will be valid only for the duration of your program. You can switch to a work permit after your studies if you have a job and wish to stay in Finland, or you can apply for a job-seeker visa and find work.
- Residence permit on the basis of family ties. This permit is issued to individuals who have family members residing in Finland. A family member is considered a spouse, registered partner, child, or legal guardian. The validity of this permit depends on several factors, though the usual validity period is one to four years.
- Residence permit on other grounds. Usually, permits are issued for work, family ties, and study purposes. If none of these types of permits apply to you, then you can apply for a permit on special grounds, this includes dating someone in Finland with the intention of marriage.
- Residence permit on the basis of reimmigration. You can apply for this permit if you previously were a Finnish citizen, either by birth or naturalization, and you want to go back to Finland. You also qualify for this permit if you have Finnish roots or are connected to Finland in some other way.
- EU Permanent Residence. This is a type of permanent residence that is granted to residents who have lived in Finland for a period of 5 years under a continuous permit and the pre-existing conditions on which their continuous permit was issued are still valid.
How to Apply for a Finland Residence Permit?
This is how you apply for a Finland residence permit:
- Fill in the application form.
- Prepare your documents.
- Visit a local Finnish mission.
- Wait for a decision.
- Travel to Finland.
Fill in the application form
When you want to apply for a residence permit you can apply online through the e-service here. You have to create a user account and then apply for the type of residence permit that suits you.
You can also apply with a paper application that you can find at a local Finnish mission; either an embassy or consulate.
For both types of applications, you will find there is a list of documents you must attach to your application form when you lodge in your application.
Prepare your documents
Before you apply you need to make sure that you have all the required documents ready. These include passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, adoption papers, health insurance, and so on.
You have to make sure that all the documents are translated by a court-certified translator if they aren’t in English, Finnish, or Swedish and legalize any documents as needed.
Visit a local Finnish mission
After you apply through the e-service, then you have to present yourself at an embassy or consulate in your country to prove your identity and submit your fingerprints. Bring copies of all the documents you submitted with your application.
If you are applying in person by filling in a paper application then bring all your documents with you and hand them over with your filled-in application form. Again you have to submit your fingerprints.
For both types of applications you have to pay the application fee at this stage of the application process, so make sure to bring either a credit card or cash with you.
You may also be asked to sit down for an interview. You will probably be asked questions about your reason for your application if you have family members in Finland, and how long you plan on living in Finland.
Wait for a decision
Once you submit your application all that’s left to do is wait while it’s being processed. The processing time may take up anywhere from 6 up to 9 months. Each application is different therefore the time it takes depends on several factors.
Every single application will be reviewed, so wait patiently.
Travel to Finland
As soon as your application has been processed a decision will be made. If you applied through the e-service you will receive a notification of the decision on your account, your email, or through a text message.
If you applied through the local embassy you will receive the decision by post.
In about 3 weeks your residence card will be sent to a local mission where you can pick it up at the embassy or it will be mailed to you. As soon as you arrive in Finland you can register with a local immigration office.
Finland Residence Permit Requirements
These are the documents you need to attach to your residence application.
- You must have a valid passport at the time of your application. Please make sure your passport isn’t about to expire and that it was issued sometime during the last decade.
- Identity picture. You need to provide a recent identity picture, no older than six months while following the Schengen visa photo rules.
- Copy of your passport’s bio page. Nowadays applicants are required to submit a copy of their passport’s bio page when they apply for residency or a visa.
- Copy of your spouse’s bio page. This is required in cases where you apply to reunite with a family member; spouse or registered partner.
- Form PK1_plus. If you apply for a residence permit on the basis of family ties your sponsor needs to supplement your application by filling in this form and signing it.
- Civil documents. These documents include birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce licenses, adoption papers, foster papers, family certificate, etc.
- Proof of residence. You need to provide a document proving that you are living legally in your current place of residence.
- Proof of financial stability. You must submit proof that you can support yourself during your stay in Finland. The financial requirements are different for each application type. For example, if you are applying for a reunification visa your sponsor can support you financially and you must submit their bank statements and similar documents.
- Proof of enrollment. This is required in cases where you apply for a student residence permit. You must apply for university before you apply for your permit.
- Paid tuition fee. For a student residence permit, you must submit proof of paid tuition, if you haven’t paid your tuition you must submit proof that you can pay for the tuition on your own, or if you are a scholarship beneficiary submit proof of your scholarship.
- Proof of cohabitation. This is required in cases where you apply for a permit on the basis of cohabitation, you and your partner must live together for at least two years.
*Please note that for each residency type there are different requirements. You can find a list of requirements in your application form, but, make sure you contact the embassy beforehand to get a complete check-list.
Duration of Finland Residence Permit
Your first-time residence is always fixed-term, usually valid for a year. You can renew and extend your residence as long as you need to be in Finland. However, the same grounds you applied for your permit initially must be valid if you want to extend the same permit.
If your situation has changed since your residence was granted you might need to change your application form when you apply for an extension.
Can You Renew a Residence Permit?
Yes, if your residence permit is about to expire you can extend it. An extended permit can be granted for up to four years.
When Can You Apply for a Permanent Residence Permit?
You can apply for a permanent residence permit only after you’ve lived in Finland for five years under a continuous A permit. The five-year period is counted from the first day when your A permit is granted.
If you had a continuous permit from the first day you entered Finland then your residency period is counted from that day.
Benefits of the Finland Permanent Residence Permit
Permanent residents in Finland enjoy many rights, almost full rights as Finnish citizens. Such benefits include:
- Unrestricted access to the workforce.
- Health and social insurance that include:
- Family counseling.
- Services for the disabled.
- Substance abuse services.
- Dental care.
- Childbirth care.
- Freedom of movement.
- Access to free education.
- Right to bring over family members in Finland.
- Right to pension income.
What Countries Can You Visit With a Finland Residence Permit?
You can visit any country within the Schengen Area or the EEA/EU. Not to mention that you can travel visa-free to any other country that Finland has a visa facilitation agreement with.