After you have submitted your student residence permit application at the Enter Finland online service of the Finnish Immigration Service, you should immediately book your appointment at the closest Finnish Embassy. For students applying for the permit in India, Nigeria, Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya or Turkey, you should contact VFS Global for the appointment booking. In there’s no Embassy of Finland in your country or you are unsure about how to book the appointment, contact Edunation at firstname.lastname@example.org for help. Especially during May, June and July the Embassies are busy and it is advisable that you book the appointment as soon as you get the acceptance letter from the university.
During the appointment at the Embassy you will prove your identity and show the original versions of the documents that you had uploaded to the Enter Finland online service. In addition, your biometrics will be taken. On the day of the appointment, have all your documents ready with a copy of the originals as well. Place the documents in order so the process is fast and efficient for both you and the officer at the Embassy.
Firstly, your passport will be asked followed by documents such as your acceptance letter to a Finnish university, bank statements, health insurance, and the diploma or degree that qualifies you to apply. When submitting the bank statements also submit all possible supporting documentation explaining the source of funds on your bank account. This can be e.g. your own or your sponsor’s pay slips.
In case you have a sponsor who financially supports you please add a cover letter from your sponsor. The officer may ask you questions regarding your relationship to the sponsor and their origin of funds. Be prepared to have their payslips that cover the past 6 months. If the source is e.g. sale of property, be prepared to show receipts and other official documents that confirm the sale.
It is very important to remember that regardless of where your funds come from, the money needs to be in your account and under your name. In no way can it be shared or under somebody else’s name, since this will lead to a negative decision.
As for the health insurance check that it meets the requirements. It must be valid for at least a year and should cover medical expenses up to 40,000 euros. Travel insurances do not qualify for a residence permit.
The officer will one by one ask for your documents and go through them. You will be asked questions about the documents. Please answer honestly and be ready to give any clarifications if requested. Usually, the questions are about your financial situation or about your sponsor’s financial situation. Be ready to explain how you have planned to fund your studies. Make sure your answer is in line with the documents you have provided – don’t make things up.
Sometimes, the officer might ask you many other questions as well. These may include questions such as: which university have you been accepted to, why do you want to study in that particular university, why do you want to study in Finland, what do you want to do after you graduate, do you know the difference between a university and a university of applied sciences. Make sure your answers are clear and demonstrate your motivation to study in Finland.
Then, you will be asked to scan your finger prints in the biometric scanner and offer your passport picture. Lastly, you will be asked to pay the application fee (350 EUR). You will then be handed a document that states you have officially applied for the residence permit. This document is not valid for travel but just proof you have applied.
After the visit to Embassy, the processing of your residence permit application starts. The processing time is between one and two months from the visit to the Embassy if everything is in order with your application. In case the Immigration Service needs to ask for additional documents or clarifications, the processing time will be longer, depending on how quickly you are able to reply and send the additional documents. It is important that you keep checking the e-mail account that you submitted in the Enter Finland online system, because usually the Immigration Service contacts you via e-mail for any clarifications or additional documents.
You can track your application at www.enterfinland.fi. Once you received a positive decision you should get your residence permit card within 2 weeks. The Embassy will notify you about the arrival of your card, usually by e-mail. Make sure you provide the correct e-mail address to the Embassy during the appointment.
Most important thing during the Embassy appointment is to stay calm and answer all the questions honestly and in line with the documents you have provided.
Good luck and don’t hesitate to contact Edunation for help!