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How to Immigrate to Finland?

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • Updated: 12/01/19 | November 27, 2019
Finnish flag in Suomenlinna

The Finnish nature is really beautiful in the summer. Visiting Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage is a famous destination for the locals and tourists in Helsinki, Finland.

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Table of Contents

  1. Immigrating to the World's Happiest Country - Finland
    1. Requirements for a Residence Permit
  2. Visiting, Working or Becoming a Citizen - Simplified Steps
    1. Visiting Finland
    2. Working in Finland as a Non-EU Citizen
    3. Family Related Immigration
    4. Applying for a Finnish Citizenship
  3. Finding a Job in Finland
    1. Language Requirements for Working
    2. Salaries in Finland
    3. Taxation in Finland
  4. Living Costs in Finland
    1. Renting a Home
    2. Food Prices
    3. Other Mandatory Expenses in Finland
    4. Remittance from Finland via Transferwise
  5. Is There Discrimination in Finland?
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Bottom Line

Immigrating to the World's Happiest Country - Finland

Every now then, Finnoy Travel is receiving queries how 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 often asked about the Finnish immigration requirements. For the convenience of our dear readers, we decided to collect into a single article these essential immigration facts when moving to Finland. We wish this article will clarify our readers's concerns (frequently asked questions).

Passport of Finland

Finland together with Germany and South Korea has the second most powerful passport in the world. Finnish passport gives visa-free access to 187 countries.

Requirements for a Residence Permit

It is the Finnish Law which defines who can enter 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 to move between the EU countries. EU citizens are also allowed to work in Finland immediately upon arrival without need for a work permit. Provided you secure a tax card (verokortti) from the nearest tax office (verotoimisto) which must be handled to your employer. Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland are not members of the European Union. However, citizens of said 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.

Lähihoitaja filipino graduaes

Ceasar with a group of Filipino nurses in their graduation ceremony in 2016. Filipino nurses were once highlighted in social media earlier in 2019 when the foreign minister Timo Soini wrote in his blog: "Filipinos are hard working and good people. Their moral is also high."

The simplest way to move to Finland is to study here. Naturally, first you need to get into a Finnish school and pay the required tuition fees. You must also be financially stable to cover your living costs. With a student visa, it is allowed to work but make sure to abide with the specified income ceiling as the visa is mainly meant for studying. Studying in Finland is a worthwhile experience having the chance to utilize their excellent school facilities while receiving topnotch training/education. Finland is known to have one of the best education systems in the world.

Senate Square in Helsinki by night

Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland. In this photo is the picturesque Helsinki Cathedral and the senate square, two major landmarks of the city.

After graduation, if you are fortunate to get a job in Finland, then you can apply for a working visa. As an applicant, you have great chance being hired if you meet the requirements. You should apply for a residence permit if you work in Finland for longer than three months. One can apply for a permit through the Enter Finland online service or at any service point of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri office).

A more complicated way to immigrate to Finland is to apply directly for a work-based residence permit. There are many different kind of residence permit options and we advise you to rely on the official sources. Read more on Finnish Immigration Services (Migri) website.

Visiting, Working or Becoming a Citizen - Simplified Steps

Visiting Finland

EU citizens can visit, live and work in Finland without a need for a visa or a residence permit. Holding a Schengen visa of another Schengen country is enough for a short term tourism visit in Finland.

Citizens of certain countries can visit Finland 90 days for tourism without a visa.

People who are not falling to the previous categories, need to apply for a Finnish visa or residence permit to be able to legally visit Finland.

Schengen Visa of Finland

A Schengen Visa is required to all nationals of third countries, which have yet not reached a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states. After you have lived in Finland continuously for 4 years with a continuous residence permit, you can apply for permanent resident permit.

Working in Finland as a Non-EU Citizen

To be able to work in Finland, you need to find a job which simply means, you should have an employer. Non-EU citizens usually have high employability rate for certain high demand jobs or to well-paid specialist jobs. For example, there is a need for continuous recruitment among cooks and nurses to Finland. Many Filipinos and Nepalese are currently working in these fields in Finland. The health care sector is one of the easiest gateway to be employed in Finland. IT companies are hiring talented IT specialists like programmers. There is a increasing trend of hiring for IT professionals among Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and other immigrants. Again, we advise you to read the official information on Finnish Immigration Services website.

Helsinki City Hall

Helsinki City is the biggest employer in entire Finland. They employ thousands of foreigners. This is inside the Helsinki City Hall taken during a 'tulokaspäivä' of Ceasar.

Most likely, the company that is hiring you will provide guidance on your work visa application. There are also some foreign agencies providing assistance for people planning to immigrate to Finland. We strongly remind you to be scrupulous if you intend to avail the services of such agencies. Make a thorough research on the legality and morality of their operations before spending any time, effort and money related to their immigration assistant services.

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 on the basis of family ties. As mentioned earlier, if you do not have a residence permit, you can visit Finland and stay for a maximum of 90 days. If you have been a resident of Finland and you are taking a family member to live with you, it is important than you can prove to Migri office that you are able to support your family financially or that your family member/s have also 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 need to apply for a residence permit tied to family relations.

Applying for a Finnish Citizenship

It is possible to apply a Finnish citizenship after you have lived at least 5 years in Finland. You must have intermediate proficiency level of 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 continuous residence. Finnish law allows dual citizenship.

Finding a Job in Finland

If you are already living in Finland and having a right to work, getting a (new) job is simplier compared for applicants outside the country. You can check government's Public employment and business services 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 4-6 months trial period.

Language Requirements for Working

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 (lääkäri) or registered nurse (sairaanhoitaja) without enough language skills. Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health requires that these health care professionals must possess an intermediate-advanced language skills to be able to practice one's profession in Finland.

Filipino immigrants in Finland playing badminton

Ceasar playing badminton with his Filipino nurse friends in Helsinki. He also joined badminton clubs as away to relieve homesickness.

Especially on the IT field, language requirements (Swedish/Finnish) are not that strict. Fluent English language skills is usually enough. If you are a talented expert or a researcher, good command of the English language is a great advantage. Many big corporations (e.g. IT and technical corporations) in Finland also utilizes the English language in their official business transactions.

Salaries in Finland

The average salary in Finland before taxes is 3,300 euros. However, according to statistics, there are more than 50% of workers in Finland who 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.

Taxation in Finland

Finland is a welfare state offering good public services and social security. That costs a lot and funds must come from somewhere - from peoples' taxes. Consequently, taxes especially income taxes are high in Finland for the same reason - because the country has a high standard costs of living.

Depending on your work location, tax rates varies from one city/municipality to another. Income tax rate is hugely dependable on your gross yearly salary. The taxation system of Finland is progressive, and so, the more yearly income you have, the higher tax percent it will be. The maximum tax percent 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 (if you satisfy the requirements), free education or affordable social and healthcare services (though waiting time can be really long) and many other well-maintained quality public services like affordable fees for accessing swimming halls and sports facilities.

Living Costs in Finland

We have listed the living cost estimates when residing in Finland. Don't get the numbers too seriously, because there is still a lot of variance 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 Helsinki center. If you prefer to live outside the city center, apartment rentals 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 income tax rates compared to big cities where there are noticeably higher number of residents/employees.

To save money of your net income, it is practical to live with your family, spouse or friends. Sharing the monthly costs reduce 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 own apartment in Finland. Banks may grant you 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 Prices

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 dine out in restaurants.

Fast food meals cost 8 euros. Low-priced restaurants serve meals for 15 euros. In average quality restaurants, you need to pay 20 to 30 euros for a meal, 4 euros for a coke and 8 euros for a beer.

Filipinos dining in a Filipino restaurant in Finland

Ceasar with his friend Glenda spending time together after work at this Filipino restaurant in Espoo, Finland.

Unknown to many, you can turn your own or family's everyday expenses into cash back by selecting the right credit card.

We are using so far two of our top choices as the best payment cards in Finland, Curve Card and Norwegian Card.

Other Mandatory Expenses in Finland

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: 5 - 20 euros / month
  • Heating: included in the apartment's costs
  • Water: 20 euros / month / person
  • Bank service fees: 0 - 10 euros / month

Remittance from Finland via Transferwise

It is common that immigrants in Finland are sending money back to their families in their home countries. Currency rates fluctuate a lot so you need to be careful with them. One more thing, as stated earlier, every thing in Finland just cost a lot more and fees for sending money abroad is not an exception!

collage photo of exchange rate by google and transferwise

Sharing is caring especially if you share something wise. So, for those still unaware about the best remittance company existing today and featured in the New York Times - Transferwise. Start using Transferwise and save for your succeeding money transfers abroad.

We have two advices: Check the currency rates carefully and try to send money only when the rate is good. Our special tip is to use Transferwise that has much lower fees than many other similar companies.

Ceasar is regularly using Transferwise for sending money to Philippines. Transferwise offers the best currency exchange rates daily. This means you are guaranteed to have the same rate with Transferwise as the exchange rate shown by Google at the time of transaction. The best part for using Transferwise is that, Transferwise has the cheapest remittance fees which is lower than banks and other remittance companies are asking.

Create your own user account with Transferwise via this link to start saving on your remittances.

It is a special reminder that Finnoy Travel recommends only services which we have personally tried and tested to be of great service.

Is There Discrimination in Finland?

night photo at the lake

One of the biggest struggles any expat may face at one point while abroad is some sort of feelings of loneliness. The demands for huge adjustments with the new climate, culture, language and other things are major factors that can lead to depression.

It would be nice to wish that there is totally no discrimination in Finland especially that the Finnish law dictates, everyone is entitled to be treated equally. Unfortunately, still, discrimination do exists in Finland like in every country. We do recommend to learn 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, if there are other Finnish sounding names in a group of applicants, the local will mostly be hired 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 kept unknown to avoid bias in hiring by companies.

As a foreigner who just moved to Finland, it is expected to have poor Finnish language skills in the beginning. Such factor led us to be somehow get discriminated when looking for new apartment with my housemates. Apartment owners always have turned down our application as tenants. With the help of a Finnish workmate, we were able to secure a new place to move to. With our second apartment transfer, getting the application done was done alone by ourselves as we managed it with better Finnish language skills. So language skill is an important survival weapon as an immigrant.

Some 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 in wrong grammar. Locals will understood you. They appreciate much if you try to speak their unique language. With time and constant practice, your language skills will surely improve.

Filipino immigrant in Finland

Ceasar's first most exciting memories in Finland has taken place at the Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland.

Bottom Line

Finnoy Travel Canoeing in Nuuksio National Park

Good work-life balance is a great factor to consider when moving to Finland. Finnoy Travel enjoys canoeing in a summer evening in Siikajärvi, Nuuksio National Park.

We are not giving any 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 about your tentative destinationions. Still, if you have chosen to immigrate to Finland and you are interested in knowing more about this country, read our story how an expat has experienced after moving to Finland.

Are you an expat in Finland or other foreign country? What are your thoughts about immigration in Finland or in the country where you live? Leave your comments below. And don't forget to share this to your friends and family.

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