Foreign nationals need to have a residence permit to stay in Finland for three months or longer. If you will be working in Finland, you will also need a residence permit for a shorter stay.
A residence permit may be granted on grounds of family ties in Finland, employment or studies, Finnish descent, return migration, on humanitarian grounds or for other exceptional reasons.
According to the EU visa rules, one of the requirements for granting a Schengen visa is that the person must leave the Schengen area before the visa expires. For this reason, a visa cannot be granted to a person who has come to Finland in order to obtain a residence permit or to wait for the decision on a pending residence permit-related matter. This also applies to family members of Finnish citizens.
Nationals of other Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland) can enter Finland without restrictions and stay in the country without a residence permit. They also do not require a worker’s residence permit.
EU and comparable nationals (Liechtenstein, Switzerland) do not require a residence permit. However, they must register with the Finnish Immigration Service no later than three months after arriving in the country.
Residence permit application based on employment and study can be filled online. Online application requires
Applications for a first residence permit can also be filled personally with the Finnish Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin. The decision to grant a permit rests with the Finnish Immigration Service. Honorary Consuls cannot receive applications.
In some cases applications for a residence permit based on grounds of family ties or other reasons can be filed with the Finnish Immigration Service in Finland.
Applications must be carefully completed and signed. All necessary attachments must be obtained in advance before filing the application. Applications may be submitted in Finnish, Swedish or English. All attachments must be translated into one of these languages. Applicants will be fingerprinted at the time of filing the application.
Applications cannot be submitted by an agent or sent by post.
Almost all the applications can be submitted online. The direct address is https://enterfinland.fi/.
More information about the application of residence permits.
The residence permit fee is payable in advance and will be charged at the time of filing the application.
The fees are listed on the Finnish Immigration Service website and on the Embassy’s or Consulate’s website (see scrollbar on the left).
Processing fees are not refunded for refused applications.
It is difficult to give any exact guide on processing times. Requests for supplementary documentation are bound to affect the processing time. The Embassy or Consulate has no influence over processing times at the Finnish Immigration Service.
Average processing times are listed on the Finnish Immigration Service website.
Applicants whose permit application is approved will receive a biometric residence permit card. The card is valid for up to five years and must subsequently be renewed. Applications for a renewed residence permit card can only be filed with the Finnish Immigration Service in Finland.
The residence permit card is not tied to a specific passport, but the personal information in both documents must be identical. In other words the residence permit card must be renewed to reflect any changes in the passport’s personal information.
Applicants who have a residence permit sticker in their old passport and who get a new passport must apply for a residence permit card.
If you are a visa national with a residence permit, you must report a missing or stolen residence permit card to the police. To be admitted to Finland again, you must submit a copy of that report to a Finnish mission and apply for a new residence permit.
Attachments to the visa application must include a police report on the lost or stolen residence permit card. Visa applications are processed on a case by case basis.
A person who holds a residence permit may live and travel in Finland and leave the country and re-enter during the validity of the residence permit. Persons who hold a worker’s residence permit are furthermore entitled to work in Finland.
A person who holds a residence permit may also stay and travel within the Schengen area for up to three months, provided they are not subject to an entry ban to the country in question.
A fixed-term residence permit is issued for either temporary (a so-called B permit) or continuous residence (A permit). The type of permit granted and its validity will depend, among other things, on the nature and purpose of the stay.
The worker’s residence permit is either temporary (B) or continuous (A), depending on the nature of the job.
Students’ residence permits are always temporary, B permits.
Residence permits issued on grounds of family ties will be issued for periods not exceeding the validity of the sponsor’s permit. The type of residence permit (A or B) depends on the sponsor’s permit. The first residence permit is usually issued for one year, unless the application is expressly for a shorter period. A person with a continuous residence permit may be granted an extension of no more than four years at a time.
Residence permits are issued for continuous residence after two years of temporary stay, provided there have been no changes in the conditions on which the permit was granted.
Foreign nationals with a fixed-term residence permit and planning to stay beyond the validity of the permit must apply for an extension well ahead of time. Applications for an extension can only be submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service in Finland.
A permanent residence permit can be granted when the applicant has been resident in Finland for four consecutive years on a continuous residence permit. A permanent residence permit is valid for an indefinite period.
A fixed-term or permanent residence permit is revoked if the foreign national has moved permanently out of Finland or if they have remained outside the country for two years without interruption, with the intention of staying there permanently.
If you are a visa national and lose your residence permit card when abroad, you must primarily apply for a first residence permit at a Finnish diplomatic or consular mission to be able to return to Finland, even if you already have a valid residence permit. Applications for an extended permit cannot be lodged at missions.
As a rule, a visa cannot be granted for this purpose, because the return requirement set out in the Visa Code is not met. A visa with limited territorial validity (VLTV) may be granted only in situations referred to in the Visa Code, such as in a serious humanitarian situation – not because the applicant is in a hurry, has lost his or her air ticket or cannot pay the residence permit fee, for example.
In other words, if a mission does not grant a visa, you must apply for a new residence permit to be able to return to Finland.
A new residence permit is applied at a Finnish mission abroad. A visa cannot be granted for this purpose, because the return requirement set out in the Visa Code is not met.
A VLTV visa may be granted only in situations referred to in the Visa Code, such as in a serious humanitarian situation – not because the applicant is in a hurry, has lost his or her air ticket or cannot pay the residence permit fee, for example.
If a mission cannot grant a visa under the Visa Code, you must apply for a residence permit before returning to Finland.
Under the newly revised Population Information Act, persons planning to move abroad for three months or longer are required to notify the local register office that they are moving temporarily or permanently.