All students from outside of the EU/EEA that come to study in Finland need either a visa or a residence permit. Most students come to stay in Finland for more than 3 months (degree students, exchange students) and therefore they need to apply for a student residence permit before entering the country. If the studies last less than 3 months (for example a summer school), you only need a short-term visa. Read more about these below.
Most detailed and up-to-date information about visas and residence permits can be found from the website of the Finnish Immigration Service Migri as well as from the Finnish embassies around the world.
First residence permit for studies
If you have been admitted to study a Bachelor or Master degree in Finland, you need to apply for a student residence permit. The residence permit is applied during the first academic year and is valid for the entire duration of your studies. To enter Finland the first time, the student must have applied for the student residence permit through the electronic portal EnterFinland.fi and receive a positive residence permit decision.
Because of the new legislation, international students do not have to re-apply for a residence permit each academic year; instead, they’ll get a valid permit for the entire time they’re studying in Finland.
Students should make the online residence permit application right after they have received acceptance from the university. Before the residence permit application is processed, the student is required to book an appointment at a Finnish Embassy or VFS Centre for biometric identification and interview. Sometimes it can take over a month to get an appointment at the nearest VFS Center or Finnish Embassy, so we advise all students to book the appointment immediately after receiving the acceptance letter from the university.
After the appointment, if everything is in order with the application and the Immigration Service does not need to ask for clarifications or additional documents, it takes around 5-8 weeks to receive the residence permit decision, and another 2-3 weeks to get the residence permit card delivered.
Documents for the First residence permit
- Passport that is valid for at least one year
- Notification of student selection result (acceptance letter) from a Finnish educational institution
- Tuition fee payment receipt from the bank
- Clarification of income: If you apply for 1-year residence permit, you need to have a minimum of 6 720 EUR in your bank account (registered under your name). If you apply for 2-year residence permit, you must have 13 440 EUR in your bank account.
- Attach bank account statements that demonstrate you have the required funds (6 720 EUR per year) to cover living expenses in Finland.
- Attach also other supporting documents that explain the source of funds. These can be employment contracts, payslips, bank account statements, sponsor letters, etc.
- If your country’s currency is not Euro, you can ask the bank to translate and change the currency into Euros.
- If you have taken a study loan, attach a letter from the bank stating the amount and conditions of the loan.
- If you have received a scholarship, you must show a certificate of a scholarship granted by an organization, government or an educational institution. The certificate must indicate the recipient, amount and duration of the scholarship.
- Health insurance certificate
- 2 passport photos size 36 x 47 mm
- 350 EUR for the processing fee (Jan 2020)
If you are under 18 years old, you will also need to submit “Consent from the guardian”, written in English by your legal guardian (for example, parents). This form is needed to prove that your parents approve of you travelling to Finland alone, and that you have sufficient means of support until you turn 18.
Remember to print the copies of the required documents as stated on the online application form.
Submit your online application via the EnterFinland portal. Only after you have filled in all fields and submitted all the required documents, you are allowed to make the payment and submit your application.
Methods of payment
1) Credit and debit card (Visa Credit, Visa Debit, Mastercard, Discovery, American Express)
2) You can pay either online or at the embassy or VFS Centre that you visit for your appointment.
Visit the website of Finnish Immigration Service Migri for the most up-to-date information.
Application process for First residence permit
The whole process of attaining the first residence permit for studies takes from 2 to 4 months.
- Set up your account at EnterFinland.fi. Select your service point, submit your application and attach all the required documents to the application.
- 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. If there is no Finnish Embassy or Consulate in your country, you will need to visit one in a country nearby. Find your nearest Finnish Embassy here at Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland. Note that you cannot go to a Honorary Consulate for a residence permit appointment!
- Visit the Embassy or the VFS Global center on the appointed time. Bring with you all the original documents listed above as well as photocopy versions of those documents. At the appointment, you will participate a short interview and might be asked questions such as ‘Where are you going to study? Who is sponsoring your studies? Where will you be living?’ Read more about the Embassy interview in Edunation’s blog post.
- Follow the processing of your application in your EnterFinland account. Keep checking your e-mail regularly in case the Immigration Service asks you for additional documents. If additional information or documents are asked, submit them quickly in order not to delay the processing. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make inquiries about the status of your application from the Immigration Service. All student residence permits are processed as urgent.
- Once the residence permit decision has been made, you will receive the information to your EnterFinland account.
- The residence permit card takes around 2 weeks to arrive at the Embassy or VFS Centre. After you have picked up the residence permit card, you can make your departure to Finland.
Extended residence permit
If your studies continue for longer, you need to apply for an extended residence permit before your first permit expires. You can apply for the extended permit with the same online form in EnterFinland.fi as you did for your first permit. Students can apply for the extended permit in Finland, so they don’t need to leave the country. The extended residence permit is granted for 1-2 years as well – however, it can be granted for a shorter period of time if your studies are about to finish in less than a year. The expected processing time for the extended residence permit is 1-2 months, so it is important to make the application well in advance before the first permit expires.
To get the extended residence permit, the student should have earned at least 45 ECTS credits during the academic year and have registered their attendance for the next semester at the university. If you have completed fewer ECTS credits, you must attach to your application a statement of the reasons why you have not made enough progress in your studies. If you are writing a thesis, for example, you should submit a statement from your supervisor.
Working with student residence permit
The residence permit for studies enables you to work without restrictions if your work is related to your degree. This means practical training and thesis work. In addition, you may work in paid employment for a maximum of 30 hours per week. The number of working hours can be exceeded some weeks, as long as the average working hours are no more than 30 hours per week at the end of the year.
Students can no longer work without restrictions during holiday seasons or at the times when the educational institution offers no instruction (June-Aug and Dec-Jan).
Residence permit based on family ties
If you are granted a student residence permit, you are also allowed to bring your family members to Finland, given that you or the family member has sufficient means of support to get a residence permit. Family members of students can apply for a residence permit based on family ties.
Additionally, if you study for a degree at a higher education institution, even your family members can get a continuous residence permit.
If your spouse applies for a residence permit on the basis of family reunification, he/she must prove funds of 700 EUR per month, i.e. 8 400 EUR per year. If residence permit is applied for a child (under 18 years old), you need to show additional funding of 500 EUR per month, i.e. 6 000 EUR per year. The origin of funds needs to be proved for family members, just like when applying for the student residence permit. This means that the family member needs to have means of support (employment, business, savings etc.) for the whole duration of their stay in Finland.
If you are staying in Finland for less than 90 days (for example, if your parents are visiting you in Finland or if you are attending a summer school or camp in Finland), you will need a short-term Schengen visa to Finland. The visa can be obtained through the VFS Global Finland visa application center, or at the nearest Finnish embassy. If there’s no VFS Centre or Finnish embassy in your country, Finland may be represented by another Schengen state in your country. In such case it is possible to apply for the short-term visa through another country’s embassy.
You can find out on the website of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, whether you need a visa to enter Finland.
Even if you do not need a visa to visit Finland, you need a valid passport or some other travel document accepted by Finland. It must be valid for at least 90 days after the end of your travelling.
In case you don’t need a visa to Finland, you can stay in Finland or in the territory of other Schengen country for 90 days within a 180-day period.
Please always contact your nearest Finnish embassy for the most updated information regarding the visa requirements. More information on visa for Finland can be found on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.
If you plan to reside in Finland for longer than 90 days, you need to apply for a residence permit.