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Are you curious to move and work in the happiest country on the planet - Finland? We collected essential information about immigration to Finland. Read the article and understand the basics of the Finnish immigration system.
Covered in the Article
- Immigrating to Finland
- Diffrences between Finnish Visa and Residence Permit
- Visiting Finland
- Studying in Finland
- Working in Finland
- How to Get a Job in Finland
- Applying for a Finnish Citizenship
- Living Costs in Finland
- Social Security
- The Best Place to Live in Finland
- Surviving in the Finnish Climate
- Is There Discrimination in Finland?
- The Future of Finnish Immigration System
- Bottom Line
Immigrating to Finland
Now then, we receive queries nhow to immigrate to Finland. There is a natural reason for that: We are Finn-Pinoy (Finnoy) travel bloggers based in Helsinki, Finland. Some of our readers ask often about the Finnish migration requirements. For the convenience of our readers, we decided to collect these essential immigration facts into a single article. We hope this article will clarify our readers' concerns and frequently asked questions but we can't provide personal immigration assistance.
Happiest Country in the World
Finland has been selected as the happiest country in the world for many years in a row. That has made Finland an exciting country to migrate to. Before packing your things, it is good to understand what happiness means from the Finnish perspective.
Happiness does not mean that Finns have a party every day and night or that people chill out and do only the things they like. To be honest, Finland has a long cold and dark winter. In the summer, the weather is better but Finland is still not a tropical paradise. Getting used to these extreme conditions may take time for people who are coming from tropical countries. Making Finnish friends takes also time because Finns are not as open as people in Southern Europe.
Happiness means a stable and secure life. Almost free healthcare and education are just a few examples of what Finland provides to its residents. No matter if you are rich or not, you will be taken care of even when you can't do it yourself. Social security is so good that even unemployed people don´t need to worry about how their families can survive. You can always afford to visit a doctor and you still have some money left to entertain yourself.
Population density in Finland is low and more than 70 per cent of the country is covered by forest. There are also more than 100,000 lakes. Air quality is good and it takes just a few minutes to find your natural spot to unwind and pick fresh berries. For example, Nuuksio and Repovesi National Parks are perfect places to relax in the summer. Compared to many other Western countries, life in Finland and the other Nordic countries is relaxed.
Salaries in Finland are good enough to save some money and to enjoy life in the way you like. Taxation is high but people are happy to pay the taxes to get a safe, secure and well-maintained environment.
Part of the Schengen Zone
Finland is one of 27 members of the Schengen countries. The Schengen agreement established a borderless zone among participating European countries, allowing for the free movement of people and goods. This means that travellers can move freely between Finland and other Schengen countries without the need for passport/visa checks or border controls. Schengen is not the same as the European Union and not all the EU countries are members of the Schengen agreement.
Diffrences between Finnish Visa and Residence Permit
The main difference between a Finnish visa and a residence permit lies in the purpose and duration of stay. A visa is a document that allows individuals to enter Finland for a specific purpose and period, such as tourism, business, or study. Visas are typically issued for shorter stays, usually up to 90 days within six months.
On the other hand, a residence permit grants individuals the right to live and stay in Finland for a longer duration. Residence permits are issued for various purposes, including work, family reunification, studies, and other specific circumstances. They allow individuals to reside in Finland for a specific period, which can be extended if needed.
Visas and residence permits can both potentially grant the holder the right to work, although this depends on the specific type. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions associated with each option before proceeding with the application process. With immigration to Finland, we talk mainly about residence permits.
Some people prefer to have a vacation or a stopover in Finland before making the migration decision. The EU citizens can visit, live and work in Finland without a need for a visa or a residence permit. Also, holding a Schengen visa from another Schengen country is enough for a short-term tourism visit to Finland.
Citizens of certain countries can visit Finland for 90 days for tourism without a visa.
People who do not fall into the previous categories, need to apply for a Finnish visa or residence permit to be able to legally visit Finland.
Studying in Finland
The simplest way to move to Finland is to study in a Finnish school. Naturally, first you need to get into a school and pay the required tuition fee. You must also be financially stable to cover your living costs. With a student visa, you are allowed to work but make sure to abide by the specified income ceiling as the visa is mainly meant for studying. Studying in Finland is a worthwhile experience having the chance to utilize excellent school facilities while receiving top-notch training/education. Finland is known to have one of the best education systems in the world.
After graduation, you can apply for a residence permit extension that allows you to stay in Finland while seeking a job or founding a company. If you already have a job, you can apply for a work-based residence permit. As a job-seeker, you have a good chance of being hired if you meet the requirements. If you are a citizen of an EU member state, a Nordic country, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you do not need a residence permit to stay in Finland.
Non-EU citizens must pay a tuition fee in Finnish universities. It is possible to apply for a scholarship that can cover even the whole tuition fee but then you need to be of one the best applicants. Tuition fees are a little more than 10,000 euros/year but some fields may be exempted from it.
Even if you find free studies or get a scholarship, you need about 6,500 euros per year of living funds to get a student visa.
Universities of Applied Sciences
You can also study in universities of applied sciences which Finland has many. Students will graduate with a bachelor's degree and they may continue to master´s studies in traditional universities. For example, nursing students will graduate from universities of applied sciences.
Working in Finland
It is the Finnish Law that defines who can enter and work in Finland. If you are a citizen of any European Union country, you can move to Finland freely. The process may involve some simple bureaucracy but nothing restricts you from moving between the EU countries. The EU citizens are also allowed to work in Finland immediately upon arrival without the need for a work permit. You need to secure a tax card from a tax office which must be handled manually or electronically by your employer. Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland are not members of the European Union. However, citizens of these countries are given the same treatment as those from the EU countries.
Things get more complicated if you intend to move to Finland while you're originating outside the EU and you are a non-EU citizen. There are many different kinds of residence permit options and we advise you to rely on official sources. Read more on Finnish Immigration Services (Migri).
Working in Finland as a Non-EU Citizen
To work in Finland, you need to find a job which simply means, you should have an employer. Non-EU citizens usually have a high employability rate for certain high-demand jobs or well-paid specialist jobs. For example, there is a need for continuous recruitment of cooks and nurses to Finland. Many Filipinos and Nepalese are currently working in these fields. The healthcare sector is one of the easiest gateways to getting employed in Finland. IT companies are hiring talented IT specialists like programmers. There is an increasing trend of hiring IT professionals among Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese and other immigrants. We advise you to read the official information on the Finnish Immigration Services website.
Most likely, the company that is hiring you will guide your work visa application. There are also some foreign agencies assisting people planning to immigrate to Finland. We strongly remind you to be scrupulous if you intend to avail of the services of such agencies. Make thorough research on the legality and morality of their operations before spending any time, effort and money related to their immigration assistance services.
In Finland, you can trust the authorities. Seek help if you feel being misused.
Fast Track for Specialists, Entrepreneurs and Family Members
In Finland, there is a fast track for senior specialists, entrepreneurs with a growth company and their family members to get a residence and work permit. That is called as the national visa D.
A residence permit on the fast track is applied for and paid online and a decision is given in 14 days. This requires the applicant to provide all required documents without delay. The applicant must also prove his/her identity and let fingerprints taken at a service point. There is no need to wait for a resident permit card abroad but you will receive it when arriving in Finland.
If you plan to work in Finland for less than 12 months, you need to apply for a visa or residence permit for seasonal work. Your family members are not allowed to apply for a residence permit based on family relations. Seasonal work is usually related to agriculture and tourism.
Finland does not offer a specific visa for digital nomads. Furthermore, it is against the law to engage in remote work as a digital nomad in Finland while on a tourist visa or during a visa-free stay.
However, if you are a citizen of the EU or EEA, you can reside in Finland as a digital nomad for up to three months without any limitations. After this period, you must register your stay at a local registration office, allowing you to continue living in Finland.
While there are other work visas available for working in Finland, they do not cater specifically to digital nomads.
If you have a family member who lives in Finland and you want to migrate to live with this person, you will need a residence permit based on family ties. As mentioned earlier, if you do not have a residence permit, you can visit Finland and stay only for a maximum of 90 days with a tourist visa. If you have been a resident of Finland and you are taking a family member to live with you, it is important to prove to the Migri office that you can support your family financially or that your family member/s have jobs in Finland. That is why you must have stable economic status say having enough savings to be able to bring your family member/s to Finland. Your family member/s needs to apply for a residence permit tied to family relations.
How to Get a Job in Finland
Often, we are asked, how to get a job in Finland. If you are still living outside the EU, we recommend following these steps.
Evaluate your existing skills and think about what you would like to do in Finland.
Find out, if Finnish language skills are required in your work. If yes, the easiest way to immigrate is via an agency that includes language training. In many technology jobs, English skills are enough.
If you intend to work in English, contact international companies that are looking for specialists in your field. Concentrate on those companies that need highly talented specialists and that have those skills.
When a company wishes to hire you, they will guide you through the immigration process.
If you do not have the required skills yet, consider studying in Finland or maybe you can immigrate via family-related matters.
If you already live in Finland and have a right to work, getting a (new) job is simpler than applying outside the country. You can check the government's Job Market in Finland to find suitable positions or you may opt to contact companies directly. The job-seeking process includes normally one or more job interviews and there is usually a 4-6 months trial period.
Many professions in Finland require Finnish or Swedish language skills. A job seeker for certain job positions lacking the required language skills will have a challenging situation getting listed in the Finnish workforce. For example, you can't work as a doctor or registered nurse without enough language skills. Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health requires that these health care professionals possess intermediate-advanced language skills to practice their profession in Finland.
Especially in the IT field, language requirements (Swedish/Finnish) are not strict. Fluent English language skills are usually enough. If you are a talented expert or a researcher, a good command of the English language is a great advantage. Many big corporations (e.g. IT and technical corporations) in Finland also utilize the English language in their official business transactions.
The average salary in Finland before taxes is almost 3,600 euros. However, according to statistics, there are more than 50% of workers in Finland are earning less than that. It is quite common for low-income group workers to earn something between 2,000 and 3,000 euros monthly salary.
Advice for Job Application
Everything begins with a job application. Concentrate on the application well. Describe your skills honestly and try to summarise them. No one wants to read five pages about your talents. You are not expected to tell anything about your personal life. Your employer won´t be interested in your family, military status or where you were born. They just want to know what valuable skills you have and how well you cooperate with other people.
Never make a copy-paste work application. Don´t exaggerate your skills. Make an honest and personal application to get into a work interview. There you will have great chances to tell more about your skills and give a positive image of yourself as a person. If the Finnish language skill is required in the position, there is no point in applying for the position without the said skill.
Finland is a welfare state offering good public services and social security. That costs a lot and funds must come from people's taxes. Consequently, taxes and especially income taxes are high in Finland for the same reason - because the country has a high standard cost of living.
Depending on your work location, tax rates vary from one city/municipality to another. The income tax rate is hugely dependent on your gross yearly salary. The taxation system of Finland is progressive, and so, the more yearly income you have, the higher your tax per cent will be. The maximum tax per cent can be as high as 60% of your gross salary. Read more about Finnish taxation on Finnish Tax Office's website.
High taxes grant you modern infrastructure, excellent library services, great unemployment benefits, free education or affordable social and healthcare services and many other well-maintained quality public services like affordable fees for accessing swimming halls and sports facilities.
Applying for a Finnish Citizenship
It is possible to apply for Finnish citizenship after you have lived at least 5 years in Finland. You must have an intermediate proficiency level in any of the two official languages of Finland, either Swedish or Finnish language. For those married to or in a registered partnership with a Finnish citizen for more than three years, the residence requirement is reduced to four years of continuous residence. Finnish law allows dual citizenship.
Living Costs in Finland
We have listed the living cost estimates when residing in Finland. Don't take the numbers too seriously, because there are still a lot of variances depending on the location where you live.
Renting a Home
Renting an apartment is expensive in Finland. You may need to pay more than 700 euros a month for a single-room apartment in the Helsinki centre. If you prefer to live outside the city centre, apartment rental prices are lower. Living outside the capital area lowers the cost of living. For example, in Turku, renting an apartment with two rooms may cost only 500 euros. In terms of taxation, smaller municipalities usually have higher city tax rates compared to big cities where there is a noticeably higher number of residents/employees.
To save money on your net income, it is practical to live with your family, spouse or friends. Sharing the monthly costs reduces your expenses a lot. But you must be able to get along well with others to live comfortably in the name of more affordable living in this one of the most expensive countries in the world.
It is common to buy your apartment in Finland. Banks may grant you a loan, which you will be paying back monthly. In the long term, owning a home becomes a lot cheaper than renting one. This is a practical choice if you think you decide to live in Finland permanently.
Food in Finland is not cheap either. Luckily, there are now low-cost food brands available. Preparing food at home is always a more affordable way of living than frequent dining out in restaurants.
Fast food meals cost 10 euros. Low-priced restaurants serve meals for 20 euros. In average-quality restaurants, you need to pay 20 to 40 euros for a meal, 4 euros for a Coke and 8 euros for a beer.
We are using one of our top choices as the payment card in Finland, Curve Card.
Other Mandatory Expenses
There are some other expenses that you will most likely face in Finland:
- Home insurance: 150 - 300 euros/year
- Mobile phone subscription: 10 - 40 euros/month
- Fixed line internet connection: 5 - 50 euros/month
- Public transport ticket: 40 - 120 euros/month
- Electricity: 15 - 100 euros/month
- Heating: included in the apartment's costs
- Water: 25 euros/month/person
- Bank service fees: 0 - 10 euros/month
Finnish social security is a comprehensive system designed to provide financial support and assistance to individuals and families in Finland. It encompasses a wide range of benefits and services that aim to ensure the well-being and social protection of all citizens. For example, students get student benefits and people with low income get support for housing.
The system is based on the principles of equality, universality, and solidarity. It is funded through taxation and contributions from employers and employees. The system provides a safety net for those who are unemployed, sick, disabled, or retired, as well as for families with children. Almost everyone gets some support during his/her life.
One of the key features of Finnish social security is its emphasis on preventive measures and early intervention. The system focuses on promoting the overall welfare of individuals and communities, rather than simply providing financial assistance in times of need. This approach is reflected in the various programs and services offered, such as healthcare, education, housing assistance, and vocational rehabilitation.
Almost every Finnish resident can avail the social security services. There are a few expectations like students and short-time visitors. If you are working in Finland, it is quite sure that you are entitled to social security services.
Read more about social security in Finland on the KELA website .
The Best Place to Live in Finland
It is up to your preferences what is a good place to live in Finland. Of course, it depends also on your work or study place. If you like a big metropolis, Helsinki is the only suitable choice. But on a global scale, Greater Helsinki is still quite small but is still the most urban area in Finland with 1 million inhabitants. If you are happy staying in smaller cities, Turku, Tampere and Oulu are good choices too.
Another option is to live in the countryside. Life may get boring if you are used to an active lifestyle. Getting social contacts requires more effort and fewer services are available.
Living in the countryside suits people who love nature and prefer a peaceful environment. However, there is untouched nature in the capital area too, like in Vantaa. Even though the public transport network in Finland is good, the travel distances are long. The further from Helsinki you live, the more time you need to spend travelling. In the countryside, a car is almost a necessity.
Surviving in the Finnish Climate
Finland is as north as Alaska but the weather is still significantly warmer, thanks to sea currents. In summers, the temperature in Finland can rise to 30 Celcius but in cold winters, temperatures below -20 degrees are possible. It is good to understand that even in normal circumstances, there is a lot of variance in the Finnish weather. In the best case, summers are warm and sunny but it is possible to face cloudy, rainy and cool summers. The weather changes fast and there is nothing like the normal Finnish summer weather. The same applies to the winter. Sunny winter days are cold but beautiful with a lot of snow. Cloudy days are warmer but they tend to be darker, especially in South Finland. You can forecast the weather only a few days ahead.
The best way to survive in changing conditions is to have the right clothing for outdoor activities. When the weather is nice, it is also important to enjoy it. On colder and rainier days, doing indoor activities is recommended. Heating systems in Finnish buildings are reliable so the living conditions inside are always good. And when the weather is not inviting you out, it's the perfect time to visit a spa in Helsinki.
According to many immigrants, the biggest challenge is the lack of sunshine. In winter, you will barely see the sun and the day length is only a few hours. In the summer, it can be rainy for many weeks in a row. Luckily, the day length of summer is almost 20 hours. People coming from tropical conditions will face a big change and it takes a few years to get used to it. A good solution to get more sun is to book a flight ticket to a sunny destination in Southern Europe which we used to do.
In winter, the weather in North Finland is much colder than in Helsinki but there is also more snow. The Lappish nature is at its best in the winter. In the summer, the gap in temperatures in the different regions of Finland is smaller.
Is There Discrimination in Finland?
It would be nice to wish that there is no discrimination in Finland, especially that Finnish law dictates, that everyone is entitled to be treated equally. Unfortunately, still, discrimination exists in Finland like in every country. We do recommend learning about your rights. Seek help from proper authorities if you think your rights were violated. Living in Finland is safe. However, as a foreigner some tasks may be more difficult like finding a job. Study says, that if there are other Finnish-sounding names in a group of applicants, the local will mostly be hired more than an applicant with a foreign-sounding name. The government is proposing to implement anonymous job hiring where the personal details of the applicants will be kept unknown to avoid bias in hiring by companies.
When a foreigner relocates to Finland, they may initially have limited proficiency in the Finnish language. Unfortunately, this can result in discrimination when searching for a new apartment. Some landlords may reject applications from foreign tenants due to perceived increased risks. However, having Finnish friends can be advantageous in securing an apartment, as their assistance can make the process easier.
Some newcomers may also find Finns at first to be unfriendly but once you befriend one, you'll realize you just gained a friend maybe for life. Finns prefer much personal space but they can become your loyal friend as well. Your basic tool to spark a conversation with a Finn? Learn their language by heart. It does not matter if you speak the language with the wrong grammar. Locals will understand. They appreciate it much if you try to speak their unique language. With time and constant practice, your language skills will surely improve. Language skills are an important survival weapon for any immigrant.
Visit Guide to Helsinki and know what is the capital area like.
The Future of Finnish Immigration System
The latest trend has been that the Finnish immigration laws are getting stricter. For example, income requirements for residence permits may get higher and other new requirements may be introduced. The changes will affect work- and family-based immigration. The government is having discussions about how the laws should be changed.
One thing remains constant: Finland continues to require numerous specialists and entrepreneurs to advance the country and ensure the smooth functioning of daily tasks. We anticipate that obtaining a residence permit for these categories will remain relatively easy or potentially become even easier. However, securing a work-related residence permit for low-paying jobs is likely to become more challenging or even impossible.
- Can a foreigner work in Finland?
- If a foreigner is an EU citizen, no work permit is needed. Non-EU citizens need to apply for a suitable residence permit.
- Is it allowed to work with a student visa?
- Legally, you can work part-time with a student visa.
- Who can immigrate to Finland?
- Anyone who fulfils the requirements of Finnish law can immigrate to Finland. The most difficult task is to find a job and get a residence permit. For example, as a nurse or a doctor, you have a good chance to get a vacancy in Finland. As a salesman, the chances are lower.
- Can an immigrant take a family with him/her to Finland?
- That is possible if you have a regular income which is enough to cover your family's living costs.
- What is the average salary in Finland?
- It is almost 3,600 euros/month before taxes.
- Is living in Finland expensive?
- Yes, it is. Finland has a high standard cost of living. Having an affordable lifestyle will make ends meet.
- Are there many immigrants in Finland?
- The number of immigrants is continuously increasing. Especially in the Helsinki area, there are many immigrants. The total number of immigrants in Finland is still low compared to its neighbouring Nordic countries.
- Will an immigrant survive Finnish winter?
- Yes, but the first winter may be challenging. Just remember to keep yourself warm. Also, don't forget to keep a strong positive mindset. Maintain a great social connection. Travel if you can.
We are not giving relocation recommendations to Finland. However, in the case that you have decided to move here, we advise you to do your decision-making carefully. Study your tentative destinations. Still, if you have chosen to immigrate to Finland and you are interested in knowing more about this country, read our story about how an ex-pat has experienced after moving to Finland.
Are you planning to immigrate to Finland, comment below. Or join our Travelling and Living in Finland Facebook group and discuss with us and other group members.