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Edunation would like to ensure all students get a positive decision on their residence permit application to Finland. For this reason, we have prepared a detailed guide for your on how to make a perfect student residence permit application. To improve your chances of having a successful application, read our instructions carefully.
Let’s first get the terminology right. In Finland, we have both visas and residence permits. If you are staying in Finland for less than 90 days, you will need a short-term visa, this is the so-called Schengen Visa. Everyone who stays in Finland for more than 90 days, will need to apply for a residence permit. For students, it is called a student residence permit. You can apply for a continuous residence permit (A-permit), which will be valid during your entire studies. You can read more about student residence permits here.
- Valid passport
- Notification of the student selection result (acceptance letter) from the university that states that you have been accepted
- Payment receipt from the bank confirming you have paid the full tuition fee
- 2 passport photos, size 36 x 47 mm
- 300 EUR for the fee
- Certificate of health insurance
- Proof of funds and other documents that demonstrate that you have the required funds to cover living expenses in Finland, and bank statements and other supporting documents that explain the source of the funds.
What kind of insurance is required?
The health insurance needs to be valid for one (1) year. Travel insurance cannot be used for the residence permit application. For studies that take 2 years and above, the insurance must cover pharmaceutical expenses for up to 40,000 EUR. For studies that take less than 2 years, the insurance must cover medical expenses for up to 120,000 EUR. Make sure that there are no restrictions to the number of days within the period of validity. The insurance must be valid on the day that you plan to travel to Finland, e.g. 15 days before the start of the study program.
Obtain a certificate of insurance indicating the following information:
- Your personal details
- Period of validity of insurance
- Geographical area in which your insurance is valid
- Insurance coverage
- Insured amounts
- Amount of excess (the deductible), or a mention that there is no excess
How do I show that I have enough money?
With the new legislation, students must prove that they have sufficient financial resources to cover the first year of their studies, defined as 560 euros per month or 6,720 euros per year. Make sure the bank statement indicates the student as the only account owner. A shared account is not accepted. Attach your own bank statements to demonstrate that you have the required funds to cover living expenses in Finland. Do not remove the funds from the account at any time during the processing of your application.
Additionally, you must attach supporting documents that explain the source of the funds on your account. The more stable and transparent your income (source) is, the more likely it is that you will get a positive decision.
If you cover all the expenses by yourself, the required supporting documents are:
- Bank statements of your own account covering the past 3 months
- A letter from the bank stating the required amount of funds on your account. If your country’s currency is not Euro, ask the bank to calculate an estimation of the funds in Euros. All documents must be in English.
- Official documentation of your income (employment contract, pay slips) to explain the source of your funds on the account.
If you have a sponsor covering your living expenses, the required supporting documents are:
- A sponsor is anyone covering your costs in Finland: your mother, father, sibling, uncle, friend etc. Attach a cover letter with the sponsor’s personal details (name, occupation, address, telephone, email) clarifying the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor.
- Bank statements of the sponsor’s personal account covering the past 6 months. In case of multiple accounts, attach bank statements of all accounts. Ask the bank to calculate an estimation of the funds in Euros.
- Official documentation explaining the source of the sponsor’s income as follows:
- If the source of income is salary and savings, include the pay slips and employment contract.
- If the source is selling of assets such as land, include the receipts of the sales.
- If the source is selling of agricultural products, include the receipts of the sales.
- If the source is house rent or land lease, attach lease agreements.
- If the source is sponsor’s own company, attach documentation demonstrating the financial status of the company.
- Remember that even with a sponsor, the funds should still be on the student’s own account and the funds must remain on the account throughout the decision process as well as upon entry to Finland.
- In addition, ensure the sponsor is able to demonstrate that she or he is able to cover their own living costs in their home country while supporting you to study and live in Finland.
If you take a loan to cover the living expenses, the required supporting documents are:
- Ensure that the full loan amount is as required by the Immigration Service. Your account must have the required amount of funds throughout the decision process as well as upon entry to Finland.
- Letter from the bank stating that the student has been granted the loan.
Make sure all documents are translated into English.
The application process in 8 steps:
Step 1: Set up your account. Register for an account at https://enterfinland.fi/. Select: First Residence permit -> Studies. Your service point is the VFS Global service center or the Finnish Embassy in your country. If there’s no Finnish Embassy in your country, you need to go to the Finnish Embassy in a neighboring country. Ask Edunation for help.
Step 2: Scan the documents. Scan all the documents listed above and upload them on enterfinland.fi. Every document must be translated into English.
Step 3: Book an appointment. Depending on your country of residence, contact either the VFS Global or your nearest Embassy of Finland for an appointment. Do it as soon as you have secured your study place in Finland.
Step 4: Visit the Embassy and/or the VFS Global service center. Do not miss your appointment! Bring with you all the original documents listed above as well as photocopy versions of the documents.
Step 5: Follow the processing. The processing of your application starts after you have given the biometrics at VFS/Embassy. Be sure to keep checking your email as well in case the Immigration Service asks you for additional documents. Provide them quickly in order to not delay the processing.
Step 6: Receive the decision. You will receive information that the decision has been made to your enterfinland.fi account.
Step 7: Get your residence permit card. Once you receive a positive decision you should get your residence permit card within 2-3 weeks. VFS Global or the Embassy will notify you about the arrival of your card, usually by email. Make sure you provide the correct email address during the appointment.
Step 8: Get ready to start the experience of your lifetime in Finland! Collect your residence permit card at VFS Global or the Embassy. Book the flight tickets and start your studies in Finland.
Tips for success
- Begin preparing the application and booking the VFS/Embassy appointment immediately after receiving the acceptance letter.
- The application process is longer if you submit an incomplete application because the Immigration Service will ask you to amend your application. Every time they ask for additional documents, the application will go to the end of the queue.
- All documents must be translated into English.
- Ensure the funds remain intact on the student’s account. The account should continue to have the required amount of funds throughout the decision process as well as upon entry to Finland. The Immigration Service may conduct spot-checks on the account even after the submission of the application. If the funds have been taken away from the account, you will get a negative decision.
- If the student has a sponsor, ensure the sponsor is able to sustain themselves in their home country while supporting the student in Finland. The sponsor’s annual income should be significantly above the tuition fee and the living costs in Finland. On average, that is more than 15,000 EUR/year.
- The health insurance needs to be exactly as required by the Immigration Service. Note that your health insurance needs to be valid for one (1) year. Travel insurance is not enough.
- After the visit to Embassy or the VFS, the processing of the student 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 the application.
- If 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 them the additional documents. It is important that you keep checking the email account that you provided in the Enter Finland online system because usually the Immigration Service contacts you via email for any clarification or additional documents.
- When preparing for the Embassy/VFS interview, check that your student knows the following: the full name of the university the student has been accepted to, the full name of the degree program and the campus. Ensure also that the student knows the annual tuition fee of the program. During the appointment, the officer at the Embassy will ask questions about the financial situation or about the sponsor’s financial situation. Make certain that your student is ready to explain how they aim to fund the studies and all answers are in line with the documents they had provided – don’t make things up. Read more insights about the Embassy interview.
Edunation website has more information about the student residence permit process in Finland. Check out our FAQ section as well!