european students’ union

BM80: More humane immigration services for international students in Finland

May 18, 2021

Finland welcomes more and more international students outside of the EU and EEA each year. While some 30,000 international students apply to Finnish universities each year and about 7,500 accept their study offers, only about 5,000 enter Finland after many bureaucratic hurdles. Therefore Finland loses between 1,000-2,000 potential students each year, a critical loss in times when Europe’s labour market is ageing and becoming more and more dependent on international talent. One of the key connections between accepting a place of study and arriving on campus is the residence permit process all international students must go through with the Finnish Immigration Services (Migri). The process is widely considered cumbersome, inhumane and slow. 

At present, before arriving in Finland, an international student must prove that they have 560 euros per month available for living, which means a 6720 euro account for a one-year residence permit and 13,440 euros for two years. Additionally, students must pay their tuition fees in advance (or have their scholarship secured) and purchase comprehensive health insurance, as they do not have access to the same services and education as Finnish or EU students. This means that at worst, an international student must have up to 25,000 euros in their bank account every summer before beginning their academic year. Financially, the demands are unreasonable and unfair. Additionally, the residence permit is slow enough that some students do not receive their permit in time to start their studies, forcing them to drop their studies altogether. 

European Students’ Union (ESU) joins the Finnish student movement in demanding the Finnish government for more humane and efficient immigration services for international students. All students, no matter their nationality or country of origin, must have access to higher education. International students are already in a disadvantageous position compared to home students, so it is unreasonable to burden them with further financial demands and difficult immigration bureaucracy. 

ESU together with the Finnish student movement demands a more humane and efficient residence permit process for international students entering Finland. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Eradicating, or at least lowering, the income requirements for students
  • Extend the residence permit to last the duration of the degree, not to be applied for a year at a time
  • Reduce the application processing time to a reasonable and humane time frame
  • Redesign and streamline the digital application process

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