Students at the Kaisa House, the Helsinki University main library, in Helsinki, Finland. LEHTIKUVA


In a bid to fortify internal security measures and ensure the compliance of international students with their residence permits, the Finnish Immigration Service has implemented an innovative system of automatic post-decision monitoring for student residence permits. Commencing from September 28, 2023, this new process will scrutinize whether students continue to fulfill the requirements for the residence permit initially granted to them.

Under this monitoring initiative, student residence permits, sanctioned for degree-oriented studies commencing from June 1, 2022, onwards, will be subject to rigorous evaluation. The Finnish Immigration Service will verify the commencement and progression of studies, the validity of the student's right to study, and compliance with other essential criteria for a student's residence permit.

Pauliina Helminen, Director of Permit and Nationality Unit, emphasized the significance of this move, stating, "The post-decision monitoring is not just a statutory obligation; it also plays a pivotal role in enhancing internal security. It empowers us to detect and prevent issues such as labor abuse and human trafficking."

This initiative was made possible through a legislative amendment in 2022, allowing residence permits for students to cover the entire duration of their studies. Unlike before, where permits were checked upon application for an extended permit, students now typically receive permits for the entire study period, spanning several years, without the need for frequent extensions.

The new system relies on automatic register checks across various national databases, including Kela's register, the Finnish National Agency for Education's Koski register, and the Population Information System registers. Anna Cheung, Chief Digital Officer, highlighted the benefits of automation: "Automation facilitates comprehensive periodic monitoring, allowing our officials to concentrate on tasks demanding their expertise."

It's important to note that while certain monitoring processes are automated, the final decision to withdraw a residence permit will always involve a meticulous evaluation by a Finnish Immigration Service official. Each case is examined individually, and if there are grounds for permit withdrawal, the affected student will have an opportunity to present their case before a decision is reached.

In the event a residence permit is withdrawn, the affected student will have a 30-day window to request a review of the decision. During this period, the individual's right to work and reside in Finland generally remains intact.

The Finnish Immigration Service has been conducting post-decision monitoring since 2017, selecting specific targets for scrutiny on an annual basis. This latest automated system represents a significant leap forward in their ongoing efforts to ensure the integrity of student residence permits and maintain the safety and security of Finnish society.