FAQ on visas and residence permits

Do I need a visa? Or a residence permit?

Depending on your country of origin, you may need a visa if you wish to enter Finland, for example, in order to take an entrance examination. Please note that a visa only allows for a short-term stay (max 3 months) in Finland.

If you become accepted as a degree student, or if your studies in Finland last more than three (3) months, you usually need a student residence permit, if you are a non-EU/EEA or a Nordic citizen. For more detailed information on visa/student residence permit requirements and application procedures, please contact the nearest Embassy of Finland, or see the Finnish Immigration Service Migri website at www.migri.fi/studying_in_finland

What is the difference between a visa and a student residence permit?

A visa ("viisumi" in Finnish) is a short-term entry permit (max three months), whereas a student residence permit can be granted for longer study or research periods in Finland. Usually a student residence permit is granted for one year at a time.

  • You should apply for a short-term visa if you are invited to Finland to take part in an entrance examination, or if your visit/studies in Finland last under three months.
  • You can apply for a student residence permit if your studies in Finland last more than three months, for example if you have been accepted into a degree programme. Note that you can only apply for a student residence permit after you have officially been accepted into a Finnish university/UAS. The university/UAS will send an acceptance letter for all admitted student once the admission process is completed, you will need that document to apply for a student residence permit. Since a student residence permit is usually granted for one year at a time, you'll need to renew it annually at your local Police station in Finland.

Where can I apply for a visa/student residence permit?

You should turn to the Finnish embassy in your home country. Please see www.formin.fi > English > "Diplomatic Missions" for the embassies' contact information.

  • Short-term visa applications are submitted to and processed by the Finnish diplomatic missions (embassies) themselves.
  • Student residence permit applications are also submitted to the diplomatic missions (embassies) but they are processed by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri www.migri.fi.

Please refer to the Migri website for more detailed information on visa and student residence permit regulations, application fees, processing times, etc.

There is no Finnish embassy in my home country. Where can I apply for a visa/student residence permit?

  • If you need a short-term visitor visa to Finland, for example to take part in entrance exams, please check on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs websiteif some other Schengen state represents Finland in visa matters in your country:
  • To apply for a long-term student residence permit, you need to visit a Finnish embassy in person. You can not apply for a student residence permit in any other Schengen country's embassy. This means you need to travel to visit a Finnish embassy in some neighbouring country to apply for the student residence permit.

In all detailed visa/residence permit related questions you should turn either to the nearest Embassy of Finland or the Finnish Immigration Service MIGRI for advice.

I have been denied a visa, even though I've been invited to an entrance examination in Finland - what should I do?

If this should happen, please inform the Admissions Office of the Finnish university/UAS you have applied to about the situation as soon as possible, and ask them for further advice. Please note that since the visa decisions are made at the Finnish embassies, neither the Finnish higher education institutions nor CIMO (Study in Finland) can change the decisions or know the exact reasons why you have been denied a visa. But you might have other options for taking the entrance exam - occasionally, entrance examinations are also arranged abroad. Please also see the section 'Entrance examinations' on this website.

I have been accepted as a student and have applied for a student residence permit. I have not however heard of any result and my studies in Finland are to start soon. What should I do?

The first thing you should do is to contact the Admissions Office of the Finnish university/UAS you have been accepted to and inform them of the situation. They will be able to advise you further.

Please note that, especially in the summer time (before the autumn term begins), the Finnish Immigration Service Migri is often quite busy with a very large number of residence permit applications to process. Therefore, they usually cannot answer queries about the status of a single residence permit application - answering such queries would only result in further delays. So please be patient - and also stay in contact with the Finnish university/UAS if it seems you will not receive your student residence permit decision in time.

I received a letter of admission from a Finnish university. Now I have already applied for a student residence permit, but after that I got a letter of admission from another Finnish university, too, and I'd prefer to choose that option. Do I now need to submit a new student residence permit application?

No, you do not need to do that. The student residence permit is not "tied" to any particular higher education institution or study programme, so you can start your student residence permit application based on the first acceptance letter you receive. IF it happens that you get another acceptance letter later on, and decide to choose that option instead, it is however recommended that you inform the immigration authorities about the change in your choice of institution/programme.

I have been granted a student residence permit for only one year. But my degree studies in Finland last for more than just one year!

Student residence permits are usually only granted for one year at a time. When you apply for your first student residence permit via the Finnish embassy, it is processed by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri. After that, you will need to renew your student residence permit annually. This can be made at your local Finnish Police station in Finland. Please see section 'Residence permits' on this site.

Why does the student residence permit process include a financial requirement?

Please keep in mind that as a rule, the Finnish government does not fund the stay of foreign students in Finland.

When you are applying for the student residence permit, you need to show the authorities that you have enough funding to support your everyday living expences in Finland. Currently, non-EU/EEA citizens are required to show that they have at least 6720€ per year / 560€ per month at their disposal annually. Please note that you should not consider the 6720€ requirement as a "residence permit fee". Essentially, it is not required because of the residence permit itself - it is required for your own financial security.

It is good to bear in mind from the start that you will need to have similar amount of funding for each consecutive year of your studies in Finland. When applying for an extension of your student residence permit (see below), you will need to show proof of this. Again, the main reason why you must have the required funding at your disposal annually is not the renewal of your residence permit as such. The financial requirements exist to protect your own interest.

If you do not have the required amount at your disposal, or if you only have the required sum on your account temporarily during the student residence permit application / extension process, it is likely that you will end up in serious financial difficulties. The end result can be that you may not be able to complete your studies in Finland.

For information on how to prove your means of support, please refer to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) website and/or the nearest Finnish embassy for advice (see links further above on this page)

Is it possible to get permanent residence in Finland after graduation?

Usually, this is not possible directly after graduation. Once you have graduated, you can first apply for a 6-month extension of your residence permit to look for employment (see section 'Working'). If you find employment, you can then of course apply for a new residence permit based on your employment. Have a look at the Migri site for info on the different residence permit types.

Having then resided (for example as an employed person) for a certain time on a continuous residence permit (NB: student residence permits are usually not 'continuous' but 'temporary'), you may later on apply for permanent residence. Please refer to the website of the Finnish Police for detailed information on permanent residence rules and requirements.

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