The coronavirus has forced the Finnish government to declare a state of emergency and to impose significant restrictions on the movement of people across borders. In addition, it has affected almost all official and administrative processes, including the work of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).
In its latest bulletin, Migri says that the current situation with Covid-19 spread in Finland "influences the processing time of the applications this year."
The backlog is huge at the Migri offices, according to its last update on the processing queue.
On 3 April there were 620 pending applications for a first residence permit for studies. Applications arrived on 2 September 2019 are currently waiting to be processed.
In the case of the applications for an extended permit (for those students who are already in Finland and want to extend their period of study), on 3 April there were 241 pending applications. Applications arrived on 19 November are currently waiting to be processed.
Finland attracts more and more students
One thing is for sure: the coronavirus epidemic does not seem to discourage thousands of young people from all over the world who want to study in Finland.
According to the latest numbers published by the Finnish National Agency for Education (OPH, in its Finnish acronym), this year there was a record number of applications for studying at Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences (polytechnics). In the second joint application of the spring, 151,700 students competed for study places.
This year, it has been possible to apply for a university place in two separate joint applications, with a total of 167,000 applicants. According to OPH, this number is "exceptionally high" compared to the last year.
How to apply for a student residence permit
Students usually submit their first residence permit applications between May and September.
This means that those who are planning to move to Finland for the purpose of studies still have time to apply for a residence permit based on studies.
Applications must be submitted according to the instructions published by Migri in its latest bulletin:
- Accept your study place following the instructions provided by your educational institution after receiving your letter of acceptance to study in a university in Finland.
- Apply for a residence permit for studies online, in the Finnish Immigration Service’s online service Enter Finland. Remember to add the required attachments in accordance with the instructions.
- Students must submit their applications no later than two months before their studies start. So, if your studies begin in early September, you must submit your application before the end of June.
- A state of emergency has been declared in Finland due to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, and entry into Finland has been restricted. Up-to-date information on these restrictions is available on the website of the Finnish Border Guard.
- Before a residence permit decision can be granted, the student must visit a Finnish embassy abroad for identification. At the embassy, students are required to prove their identity, give fingerprints and present the original documents attached to the application. At the moment, the operations of Finnish embassies abroad have been temporarily suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which means that appointments cannot be booked at the embassies.
- Owing to the exceptional situation of the embassies, identification times have been temporarily extended until 31 August 2020. You can read more about the identification times HERE
- Follow the websites of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Immigration Service. Book an appointment to identify yourself once the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has lifted the restrictions.
- Applications will be processed after the student has visited the embassy. The embassy will inform Migri directly.
Follow your application status
- If you have already visited the embassy for identification and you have already submitted your residence permit application, the processing thereof will continue in normal order. Follow the status of your application on the online service Enter Finland.
- If a residence permit is issued for you, a residence permit card will be sent to the same embassy that you visited to prove your identity. You can keep updated on the operations of Finnish embassies during these exceptional circumstances on the website finlandabroad.fi.
- You should therefore wait for the decision abroad. "You cannot come to Finland while your application is still being processed and receive a residence permit card in Finland," emphasized Migri.
Extended residence permit
- First, students must complete their studies for spring term. In the processing of the extension of their residence permits, Migri will check if their studies have progressed. Undergraduates at a university or university of applied sciences should complete about 45 credits during the academic year.
- Once the studies for the spring term have been completed, students can submit an application for an extended residence permit in the online service Enter Finland. Applications must be submitted before the previous residence permit expires.
Migri reminds you can only visit its service points for pre-booked appointments during the coronavirus outbreak. More information on visiting Migri's service points is available HERE