Freedom of Movement Network
Residence Permit for Studies in Finland
In this article we provide information on the residence permit for studies in Finland in a nutshell. An asylum seeker may also apply for a residence permit for studies. Keep in mind that the authorities might change their practices rapidly—before applying, you should always check for up-to-date information, for instance, on the Finnish Migration Service’s website.
A residence permit for studies is required from everyone who is not an EU or EEA citizen and who wishes to study in Finland. For studies less than 90 days, only a visa is required. You can apply for the residence permit for studies either in Finland or abroad.
The residence permit for studies, sometimes called the ‘study permit’, is a temporary residence permit that is usually granted for one year at a time. This also means that once you finish your studies, you are not automatically granted residency in Finland. However, you may apply for a one-year residence permit for job-seekers. Once you find a job, you can apply for a residence permit for an employed person, a ‘work permit’.
Before you can apply for a residence permit for studies, you need to be accepted as a student in a programme in a Finnish institution. Study programmes that qualify need to lead to a degree or provide a vocational qualification. Institutions that provide such education are universities, universities of applied sciences and vocational schools.
Finnish language courses, gymnasium (lukio, the Finnish academic upper secondary education) or courses preparing immigrants for further studies in Finland (maahanmuuttajan valmentava koulutus) are not recognised as a basis for the residence permit. Exceptions from this rule are exchange programmes, earning special qualifications (erikoistumiskoulutus) and updating your degree (täydennyskoulutus).
To be eligible for a study permit, you will need to provide a bank statement as evidence that you have deposits of 6 720 euros in your own bank account. To apply for the residence permit for studies, you also need a valid passport and private health insurance.
To apply for a residence permit for studies
The application is an online form that you can access through the Finnish Migration Service’s website, migri.fi. After filling in the online form, within one month you will need to prove your identity to the Finnish authorities either at a Finnish embassy or consulate or at the local police station in Finland. Your application will not be processed before you have visited either an embassy/consulate or the local police.
There is an application processing fee of 300 euros, which you need to pay once you file the application. The money will not be refunded even if you receive a negative decision.
For the application, you will need a valid passport; a letter of admission from the Finnish school or university; proof of sufficient income (see income requirement below); and a health insurance certificate. Those younger than 18 years need also their legal guardians’ (e.g. parents’) written consent, signed by at least one of them.
We advise you to fill in the application carefully, since missing information or missing attachments might slow down the processing of your application. An incomplete application might also be turned down; in other words, missing information might lead to a negative decision.
The Finnish legislation does not specify a time limit for processing the study permit applications. It is possible that you will be issued a decision in one month, but you might need to wait longer. At times, the Finnish Migration Services provides information about delays on their website.
Extended residence permit for studies
If your studies take longer than the one year the study permit is usually granted for, you will need to apply to extend your residence permit. For the application, you need a certificate that proves you are still enrolled in the educational institution as a full-time student. You also need a separate certificate of accomplished studies. If you have not accomplished as many study credits as expected in your programme during the previous year, you might not be granted the extended permit.
The Finnish Migration Services advises you to apply for a new permit before the first permit is expired. However, you are allowed to stay in Finland while the new application is processed, even though the first permit would have expired. The processing fee for an extended residence permit is 159 euros that you pay as you apply for the permit from the local police in the place of your residence, in Finland. You cannot apply from abroad.
The income requirement
Any foreign student (from outside of EU/EEA countries) will need to prove that they have “sufficient income” to provide for themselves in Finland for the time of their studies. The same income requirement applies to both the first residence permit for studies and the extended permits.
In practice, “sufficient income” means that you will need to have 560 euros (6 720 euros per year) worth of money for each month in Finland in your bank account in advance. You will need to attach a bank statement proving this with your application. The bank account needs to be in your own name and you need to be able to access it from Finland. The migration authorities might ask how you have acquired the money. And after one year, if you apply for an extension for the permit, the authorities might investigate your bank statements for the full year.
In case your institution provides you with free housing, the required amount of money for “sufficient income” is less. Free housing is available primarily for under 18-year-old students in vocational colleges.
The required amount of money may be covered partly or fully by an official grant, too. Instead of the bank statement, you can to provide official proof of a grant of an equal amount (with an official translation of the document).
If you have a residence permit for studies in Finland, you are allowed to work 25 hours per week at most outside of your school hours.
The Health Insurance
To be eligible for the residence permit for studies or the extended permit, you will need health insurance. The authorities will assess your insurance when processing your application. The kind of insurance you need depends on your programme. For studies less than two years, your insurance needs to cover costs up to 100 000 euros. For studies longer than two years you will need an insurance that will cover costs up to 30 000 euros, because you will be entitled to health care in Finland.
Tuitions for non-EU students
According to new legislation, non-EU and non-EEA higher education students will be required to pay at least 1500 euros tuitions. Most universities and universities of applied sciences will adopt the new rule in fall 2017. Not all of the institutions have announced the cost of their tuition fees. Thus far, the announced amounts in universities have ranged from 10 000–25 000 euros.
Student allowance for a foreign national
If you have permanent residency in Finland for another reason than studies (for instance, family reunification, work) you are entitled to a student allowance. Asylum seekers do not hold this right.
Vocational schools and colleges can decide themselves if they accept asylum seekers as students—to find out, you need to contact the institution directly. Open universities and community colleges (työväenopisto; aikuislukio) are open for everyone. Also university lectures are open for the public; everyone has the right to attend these lectures.
1 Examples of degrees are Master of Science (in university); Bachelor of engineering; Bachelor of Nursing (in university of applied sciences). Examples of vocational qualifications are Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration; Vocational qualification for Social and Health Care (in vocational schools).