Legislation on visas and student residence permits for international students in Finland vary depending on the country of citizenship. Below you can find general guidelines for non-EU/EEA citizens.
More detailed information is available from the Finnish embassies around the world and from the Finnish Immigration Service Migri.
If you will be staying in Finland for less than 90 days, (if you are attending summer schools, for example) you will need a short-term visa, which can be obtained at the nearest Finnish embassy, or in some cases, at some other Schengen country’s embassy that officially represents Finland in short-term visa matters.
Find out if you need a visa
Check here to see if you need a visa.
Even if you did 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 ninety days after your intended date of departure from the Schengen area.
In addition, the passport or other travel document must have been issued no later than ten years ago.
In case you do not need a visa, you can stay in Finland or in the territory of other Schengen state for ninety days in any 180-day period.
Apply for a visa
If your country of destination is Finland, apply for a visa from the nearest Finnish embassy. Or sometimes Finland may be represented by another Schengen state. In such cases, apply for a visa to Finland from the embassy of that Schengen state.
- The visa application form completed and signed
- One photograph
Include a color photograph from which you are recognizable
- A passport
Make sure your passport is valid for at least three (3) months after the end of your intended travel and that it has been issued no later than ten (10) years ago.
- Travel insurance
Your travel insurance must be in force for the period of the validity of the applied visa and cover the entire Schengen area. The minimum coverage of the policy must be EUR 30,000 and the insurance must cover expenses arising from a sudden illness and accident (also the patient’s repatriation) and repatriation expenses in case of death.
- Supporting documents
The required appendices vary by country, contact the embassy to make sure which ones you need. Examples of such documents are tickets, a confirmation of hotel reservation, a private invitation letter and an official invitation. For summer school students, you have to provide a formal Certificate of Admission. As the Certificate of Admission is only issued on receipt of full payment, we recommend that you apply early and pay in full as soon as possible, as the visa application process may take a few weeks.
- Proof of sufficient financial means
The applicant must have proof of sufficient financial means to cover the duration and purpose of the stay and the cost of living in the country. In Finland a minimum of EUR 30 a day is required.
The embassy may also ask you for a personal interview to find out about the purpose of your visit.
- Visa fee
The fee for visa application is 60 euros (2018/Jan).
Please always check with your nearest Finnish embassy for the most updated information regarding to visa application.
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 have a residence permit. Please read the next section for more information.
About Student residence permit
If you have been admitted to Finland for an exchange or a full degree program exceeding three months (90 days), you need to apply for a student residence permit, which is granted for 1 year at a time. This means that you will have to renew it exceeds the time limit written on the card
The renew fee is 150€ and the process is quicker given that you have studied at least 45 credits and have registered for attendance in the next semester.
So, is it difficult to attain a student residence permit?
According to Migri (Finland Immigration Service), 6,982 decisions were made on foreign students applying to student residence permit in 2016. Of those decisions, 91.2% were positive. Only 8.8% were negative. Seems like in most cases, students would successfully apply for residency permit!
In cases that you miss documents, you will be informed by email. If you fail the Residence permit, you can appeal right after or re-apply after 3 months.
How long does it take to apply for a student visa/student residence permit?
Around 27 days to get a decision from immigration service, and another 2 weeks to get the card produced.
See section below for application instructions.
Necessary documents for Residence permit
– A valid passport
– A certificate of acceptance from a Finnish educational institution (Acceptance letter)
– A clarification of income: you need to have at minimum 6720 EUR in your bank account (register under your name). If your country’s currency is not Euro, you can ask the bank to translate and change the currency into euro. A bank statement from your own bank account. Written sponsorships from private guarantors are not accepted.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. A bank statement is not necessary if the scholarship fully covers the requirement.
– A certificate of insurance
– 2 passport photos size 36 x 47 mm
– 300 EUR for the fee
– Origin of funds
- If you have your parents or any other guardians who pay for your studying:
- If your parents or guardians have a job, you should scan his/her/their employment contracts and bank account statement from the latest 6 months.
- If your parents or guardians run a home business (e.g shops, housing rental) or self-employed, you should scan their business certificate (the certificate that proves the business is legitimate by the government/ authority), their bank account statement from the latest 6 months.
You should scan papers of transactions that show your parents/guardians send money to you here for you to use. If they haven’t sent any because you haven’t gone to Finland and have a bank account in Finland yet, then you don’t have to print to transaction papers.
2. If you have a job that can finance your studies:
You should scan your employment contract.
Remember to print other the documents in papers so that at the immigration office, they will ask, and you can show it to them for comparison.
The application can be done in EnterFinland, which is the most popular and most convenient way or in paper OLE_OPI. If you are already in Finland and apply Residence permit for the first time, then you should you another form call Form MP_1.
Only when you have filled in all fields and submitted all documents, you are allowed to make the payment and submit your application.
Method of payment
1) Credit and debit card (visa credit, visa debit, Mastercard, discovery, American express).
2) You can also pay at the service point, which you have to visit after you submitted your application online.
If you are under 18 years old, you need a paper that shows “Consent from the guardian”, written by in English your guardian (for example, parents). This document can be added in step 4 in EnterFinland.fi when you submit other documents.
Visit the website of Finnish Immigration Service Migri for more details on applying for a residence permit for studies.
Application instructions for residence permit
The process of attaining the permit takes around 1.5 month.
- After paying your tuition fee, apply for student residence permit online at Enter Finland Services.
- Book an appointment with your nearest Finnish Embassy/ Consulate by calling or email them.(Note: You cannot go to a Honorary Consulate for this!).
If you do not have a Finnish Embassy or Consulate in your country, you would have visit one in a country nearby.
Find your nearest Finnish Embassies/ Consulates here at Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland
- Bring the required documents and Visit the Embassy/Consulate at the appointment time. You need to attend this appointment in person.
- At the Embassy/Consulate, you would have to give your (a) Fingerprints (b) Copies of your required documents as stated on you online application form. Some of the original copies will be returned to you after this appointment, but some will be taken by the Embassy/Consulate, such as the Bank Proof. You will be asked some questions such as: Whereyou going to study in? Who sponsor your finance? Where will you be living in? etc.
- After about 1 or 2 months, you will receive email from the Embassy to know whether you can get the student residence permit. In this email, there will be instructions on when and how you should collect the student residence permit. (It takes another 2 weeks to get the card to be sent to your home or you will have to pick it up depends on different countries mailing systems)
Apply for your residence permit abroad, not in Finland.
- Your application will not be processed before you have visited a Finnish Embassy/Consulate. So set up an appointment asap!
It is not possible to collect the card from Finland, and all students must have their residence permit cards before the arrival to Finland.
In addition to the student residence permit, if your stay in Finland for more than a year, you are required to register in the Finnish population system so that you will get the Finnish ID number which is useful for travelling card, bank account and student tracking at the university at the Local Register Office
- If you pay your tuition fee before arriving in Finland, please attach documentation of the paid fee.
- If you pay the tuition fee only after arriving in Finland, please attach documentation of necessary means for paying the tuition fee. You cannot use means reserved for your support to pay the tuition fee.
- If you have been exempted from paying tuition fees or received a scholarship, you have to present a certificate from the educational institution of this.
These documents must be in Finnish, Swedish, or English. Otherwise, you need to get them translated by an authorized translator. Take the original documents with you to the embassy.
Please also check the Finland Immigration Department (Migri) website for the latest updates needed for required documents: Checklist to Apply for your first residence permit
Working during and after your studies
During your studies
With a student residence permit, you are allowed to work if the work is part of a traineeship required for a degree or is part of a research paper required for the studies. Otherwise, you can work 25 hours a week on average during your studies. The number of working hours is not restricted on a weekly level, which means that you can work periodically during the academic term according to your situation.
During summer and winter holidays when your higher education institution is not offering lectures, you can work freely.
When you have completed your studies, you can apply for a temporary residence permit (Post-Study Work Visa) for seeking work for a maximum period of one year. You can start working without delay and after employment, you can apply for a residence permit.
When moving to Finland, you are allowed to bring your family members with you. However, family members moving to Finland must have sufficient means of support in order to be issued a residence permit.
If your spouse applies for a residence permit on the basis of family reunification, he or she must have 700 euros per month, i.e. 8,400 euros per year, at his or her disposal. As a student, you need to have 560 euros per month, i.e. 6,720 euros per year, at your disposal. Together you are required to have 1,260 euros per month, i.e. 15,120 euros per year.
You can have the required sum of money on your own accounts or on your joint account. A family member who is moving to Finland together with you can apply for a residence permit at the same time with you or later.
More information can be found on the Finnish Immigration Service page ‘Moving to Finland to be with a family member’.
The required level of income is a bit higher for spouses of students than students. The income level requirement is based on how much money a person must have at his or her disposal in order to be able to finance his or her stay in Finland. The required income level is lower for students than for other applicants. It is based on the financial aid that Finnish students receive yearly.
Students must have 560 euros per month at their disposal, whereas their spouses are required to have 700 euros per month.