Permits

Visa

Is a visa needed first?

A visa might be needed if a student coming from a non-EU country has to participate in an entrance exam in Finland prior to being accepted at the educational institution and if he or she is a citizen of a country that has not signed an agreement on the abolition of visa with Finland.

Visa allows the student only for a short stay in Finland (maximum three months). Thus the student must usually return to his/her home country after the entrance examination in order to apply for the actual residence permit. Please note that the University of Vaasa does not arrange entrance examinations for the international Master’s degree programmes or doctoral studies. Thus the students do not need to apply for a visa. In order to study in Finland for more than three months, the students might need a residence permit.

For up-to-date information on visa matters, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland’s website or Finnish Immigration Service's website.

Residence Permit

Every foreign person staying in Finland for more than three months needs to either have a residence permit or register at a Register Office. Please note that without a valid registration / residence permit, the person won’t be allowed to enter Finland again if s/he has left the country and s/he might have problems with authorities also in Finland. For up-to-date information on residence permits, please visit the Finnish Immigration Service website.

Do I need a residence permit?

1) Citizens of the Nordic countries
- may arrive, reside, study and work in Finland without visas, residence permits or work permits. Citizens of the Nordic countries must register their right to reside in Finland at a Register Office (‘Maistraatti’) if their stay in Finland exceeds six (6) months.

2) EU/ European Economic Area (EEA) citizen
s
-do not need to apply for a residence permit. However, EU/EEA citizens must register their right to reside in Finland at the Finnish Immigration Service if their stay in Finland exceeds 90 days. For the registration, international students must:

  • have a valid passport
  • have three passport sized photos
  • show a Letter of Acceptance from a Finnish university (in this case from the University of Vaasa)
  • have a certificate of financing the studies in Finland
  • pay the application fee

The Finnish Immigration Service has an e-service for the purpose of handling foreigners’ permit and license matters. Among other features, the e-service enables customers to submit an application and to follow the progress of its processing.

You may access the e-service via the website of the Finnish Immigration Service.

3) Citizens of all the other countries
All the students coming from outside the EU/EEA countries must have a residence permit. The residence permit has to be obtained from the Finnish Embassy or Consulate in home country before arrival in Finland. We strongly advise you to contact the Embassy as soon as possible after receiving a Letter of Acceptance from the University because it will take about 1-3 months to get the permit depending on the country you are coming from. If you live abroad, the application should be addressed to the Finnish diplomatic mission in your country of residence. A residence permit can also be granted in any other country where you are staying legitimately, if this is considered reasonable.

To obtain the permit international student must

  • have a valid passport
  • intend to become a full-time student at an institution of higher education or vocational training institute (Finnish language courses for international students are not regarded as full-time study)
  • show a Letter of Acceptance from a Finnish university (in this case from the University of Vaasa)
  • show that you have paid the tuition fee or have the funds to pay it on your account
  • show that your income is secured during the academic year or the whole duration of your studies. Please note that you need to have the funds to cover your living costs in addition to the funds meant to cover your tuition fee. Financing the stay in Finland can be shown by either with a grant or other funds with which the student can support themselves during the academic year. Students must be able to prove that they have at their disposal at least 560 euro a month or 6720 euro for a year. Working during the academic year is not recommended as the studies are expected to be financed by means other than working (Please note that a renewal of the deposit is required at the beginning of each new academic year when applying for an extension to the residence permit)
  • have a valid insurance with a solvent and reliable company or institution covering medical treatment (for more information, please visit the section Health Care or contact the embassy of Finland in your home country)
  • pay the application fee

In order to apply for a residence permit, the student must fill in the application form for residence permit for studies (OLE_OPI) carefully, provide the other necessary appendices and certificates required and pay the application fee. Please note that inadequately filled forms, missing documents, missing payment, expiring passport etc. may delay the processing of the residence permit application or lead to a refusal of the application.

As from 1 January 2012, the Finnish Immigration Service and the Finnish police introduced an e-service for the purpose of handling foreigners’ permit and license matters. Among other features, the e-service enables customers to submit an application and to follow the progress of its processing. In addition, the service includes selected application forms relating to Finnish citizenship, registration of EU citizens’ right of residence, and residence cards for the family members of EU citizens.

When using the e-service for foreigners’ permit matters you may

  • create your own user account using online user authentication from a Finnish bank, an electronic identity card (HST card), or a combination of user ID and password, or with e-mail
  • submit an application
  • add appendices to your application
  • pay the application fee online
  • view your application after you have completed and submitted it
  • supplement information on your own initiative or when requested by the authorities
  • follow the progress of the application
  • receive notification when a decision is made on your application (log in with user ID and password)
  • receive the actual decision
  • receive notification by e-mail or SMS of any messages received on your user account, such as requests for clarification or notices of decisions; for the time being, SMS messages can only be sent to Finnish mobile numbers.

You may access the e-service via the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. The direct address is https://enterfinland.fi/eServices.

A visit to the embassy is required. Even when customers submit their application online, they will need to visit a Finnish embassy in person to verify their identity. They will also need to show the original copies of any appendices to their application. An application cannot be processed until the applicant has visited the embassy. Please note that you can contact the embassy to receive information on available appointments already before applying for the permit. However, you must submit the online application before visiting the embassy for your appointment.

Applicants are also fingerprinted at the embassy, and the fingerprints will be recorded on a biometric residence permit card.

For more information about residence permits and application process, please visit the Finnish Immigration Service webpages.

Extension of the Residence Permit

A residence permit granted to a student is a temporary permit (bearing the letter B). It is granted for one year or for the duration of your studies provided that studies do not exceed length of two year.  If your studies do exceed two years, you will need to apply for an extension to your residence permit before it expires. In order to have your residence permit extended, you must still be enrolled in the same educational institute and present a proof of having studied full-time and having completed the courses required by the educational institute concerned.  Please note that completion of less than full-time studies may lead to rejection of your application to extend the residence permit.

The extension of residence permit is granted by the Finnish Immigration Service. When applying for an extension of the residence permit, students must fill in the application forms (OLE_OPI and necessary appendices) carefully, submit a Certificate of Attendance and their Transcript of Records, show that their income is secured for the next academic year or two years (560 euro a month or 6720 euro for a year or 13 440 for two years on your account) and that they have a valid insurance, pay the application fee, and submit photos with the application.

Please note that, in accordance with verifying the student's necessary means of support, the Finnish Immigration Service has a right to request the student's bank account statements for audit. This may be done also retroactively in order to detect any fraudulent misrepresentation to authorities. Sponsorship agreements provided by relatives, friends or employers are not acceptable but you have to have the necessary funds on your own bank account. Alternatively, if you have been granted a stipend or scholarship by the government or an association for the purpose of your studies and living in Finland, attach the scholarship decision to the application form. An account statement will not be necessary if you have proof of a scholarship that is sufficient to support your stay in Finland.

The Certificate of Attendance and Transcript of Records can be obtained online. Please remember to request for your certificates on time - it takes approximately 1-3 days to receive them.

The Finnish Immigration Service provides an e-service for the purpose of handling foreigners’ permit and license matters. Among other features, the e-service enables customers to submit an application and to follow the progress of its processing.

Using the e-service for foreigners’ permit matters you may

  • create your own user account using online user authentication from a Finnish bank, an electronic identity card (HST card), or a combination of user ID and password or e-mail
  • submit an application
  • add appendices to your application
  • pay the application fee online
  • view your application after you have completed and submitted it
  • supplement information on your own initiative or when requested by the authorities
  • follow the progress of the application
  • receive notification when a decision is made on your application (log in with user ID and password)
  • receive the actual decision
  • receive notification by e-mail or SMS of any messages received on your user account, such as requests for clarification or notices of decisions; for the time being, SMS messages can only be sent to Finnish mobile numbers.

You may access the e-service via the website of the Finnish Immigration Service. The direct address is https://enterfinland.fi/eServices

Even when customers submit their application online, they will need to visit the Finnish Immigration Service in person to verify their identity. They will also need to show the original copies of any appendices to their application. An application cannot be processed until the applicant has visited the Finnish Immigration Service. Applicants are also fingerprinted, and the fingerprints will be recorded on a biometric residence permit card.

Applicants should book an appointment for the application for residence permit extension by using the online service for appointments.

Residence permit after graduation

As student’s residence in Finland is regarded as temporary, the international students are expected to return to their homeland upon graduation. The graduated students may apply for a residence permit extension after their graduation for the purpose of looking for a job. If the graduated student finds a job in Finland, they must apply for a new residence permit for an employed person. A new residence permit can be also granted on other grounds than studying, for example, for continuing studies within the same field or on the basis of family ties.

Please note that residing in Finland with a residence permit issued for studies is not taken into consideration when estimating the period of residence required for obtaining Finnish citizenship.

Work Permit

International students holding residence permits issued for studying may work without a work permit 25 hours a week on average, and fully at the times when no instruction is offered at your educational institution, that is during summer and Christmas holidays. These time limits do not concern citizens of the Nordic and EU/EEA countries. However, you should bear in mind that unemployment rate among young people is fairly high in Finland and thus finding a job might be fairly difficult.