It is Li-Hsin from Digital Health and Life Sciences in the University of Turku again. This time I am going to talk about applying for residence permit. Since the process is documented in detail on the websites of Finnish Immigration Service, I am not going to repeat them here. Instead, I will share some insights and hopefully this will smoothen your application process.
Welcome to Finland
First things first: congratulations on being accepted into one of our member universities! A bright student life awaits you here in Finland. For those of you who are not a citizen of a EU-member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, you will need a residence permit for studies.
Throughout the application process, you will frequently visit these two websites:
- Migri -- the official website of the Finnish Immigration Service, where you can read more about residence permit and important regulations. It is advisable to go through it and refer to it when you have questions, and if you still can’t find the answer, send an email to them or to your university (note that Migri says specifically on their website that contacting them does NOT speed up the application process, so the best way to speed it up is to start early).
- EnterFinland -- this is the online service of the Finnish Immigration Service, and you can submit your application for residence permit here. EnterFinland has clear instructions on how to apply for a residence permit, so make sure you read through them in detail.
Besides these two websites, you will want to check out relevant websites/blogs in your own region as well. You may find useful tips or some country-specific things about residence permit application there.
With regard to the application documents, here are a few things to note:
- Certificate of acceptance from a Finnish educational institution: start the application even if your offer is conditional. Contact the service point about your situation and your university if any further documents are required.
- Health insurance: If you bought the health insurance and, for some reasons, your application is delayed, make sure the validity of your health insurance covers the stay for which you are applying for the residence permit. Update the insurance if necessary.
Visit the service point
Once you have submitted your application and paid the application fee, you are required to visit your chosen service point (a consulate or an embassy) to verify your identity. Make a reservation soon because some popular service points may be busy.
In some exceptional cases, residence permits are applied in Finland.
- Make sure you have all the necessary documents prepared and have done all the things needed to be done in your home country before departure. For example, you may need to submit and pay for your application.
- Book an appointment ahead of time in the local Migri office in Finland. The reservations can be full sometimes (especially in bigger cities), and you do not want to exceed the 90-day time limit since you pay the application fee.
- Be careful which airline you fly: without a valid residence permit, some countries do not allow you to enter the EU. It is better to fly directly to Finland or fly Finnair, and have all the supporting documents ready.
- Pay attention to the duration of health insurance. Make sure it does not expire in less than a year starting from the day your application is about to be approved.
- If you are eligible to apply for a residence permit after arrival in Finland, but have already verified your identity in a service point, you have to wait until you receive your residence permit card before you can enter Finland.
Apply on time
I would highly recommend you to start preparing for visa application as soon as you receive a study place, because you never know if anything will hinder your application process.
It could be, for example, the preparation of documents, waiting time for identity verification at a service point, application processing time, preparation and submission of additionally requested documents, or the posting time of your residence permit from Finland to your country. You could even be waiting for an email reply for some specific questions you come across, or if there happens to be some public holidays in Finland or in your home country.
Coupled with the fact that other international students are also applying for residence permit, it’s better to start sooner rather than later if you would like to start the semester in time (or if you plan to attend summer courses organised by some member universities, it’s definitely wise to start the application now). There is also the fact that you want to buy your ticket after receiving the residence permit card, and ticket price raises the closer it is to the date of departure.
Nevertheless, good luck with residence permit application, and see you in Finland!
Learn more about studying in Finland
Finland University serves as a gateway to one of the finest Finnish multidisciplinary Universities on offer. If you are interested in studying in Finland and would like to find out more, there's good news: the downloadable Finland University guide provides a quick starting package of how to apply for international master’s degree programmes and scholarships in the member universities of Finland University.
Interested? Download the guide and learn more!