Women in the library of the University of Helsinki. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


A LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENT is set to facilitate the residence of students from outside the EU in Finland, reports YLE.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has drafted a set of amendments to the legislation governing, among others, the permits granted to students for the duration of their studies and after graduation.

Jarmo Tiukkanen, a senior officer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, stated to the public broadcasting company that the amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 April. “This should be possible, but we’ll have to wait until the bill has been discussed and approved by the Parliament,” he added.

The most noteworthy amendment is that students would be granted a single residence permit that is valid for the entire planned duration of their studies, from beginning to graduation, instead of having to renew the permit once every year or once every two years. The type of permit would also be changed from temporary to continuous, making it easier to satisfy the days-of-residence requirement for permanent permits and citizenship.

“By granting a continuous residence permit to students in higher education degree programmes, it’s possible for them to receive a permanent residence permit and also of course citizenship sooner than presently,” said Tiukkanen.

The requirements for a permanent permit would be the same for students as for other immigrants, except that students would also be required to have completed their degree.

The bill would also enable students to work more during their studies – up to 30 instead of 25 hours per week. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment underlined that the number of weekly hours could vary as long as it remains below the limit at the end of the year. Internships and on-the-job trainings would not be counted toward the limit on working time.

Amendments are also proposed for the residence permit granted to students for post-graduation job search in Finland.

“The permit is currently granted for one year, but after the change it’d be granted for two years. Using this permit would also become more flexible in other ways,” revealed Tiukkanen.

Former students could apply for the permit as late as five years after the permit granted for their studies has expired, meaning they could, for example, work in another country for a couple of years after graduation before returning to look for a job in Finland.

YLE on Wednesday wrote that universities are pleased with the proposals.

“The amendments facilitate permit procedures and dispel uncertainty regarding the continuity of residence and studies until the degree has been completed. They also increase the chances of finding employment in Finland after graduation, which has been shown to be the goal of many international students,” said Esko Koponen, a specialist in strategic services for teaching at the University of Helsinki.

LUT University in Lappeenranta viewed that the bill sends a positive signal to the potential foreign applicants who are thinking where they want to study.

“It’ll make things simpler and easier from students’ viewpoint, which is positive,” summarised Maija Kuiri, the director of study and international affairs at LUT University.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT