Rise of International Applications in Finland


According to the Finnish Immigration Service, the number of international student applications to study at Finland’s universities increased significantly in 2021 compared to the previous year.

According to the service, 4,233 non-EU applicants filed for a study permit between January and August 2021. Last year, only 1,756 people were involved.

However, the low number of applicants seen last year was considered as “exceptional,” as was the outcome of the Covid-19.
Russia (899) and China (898) are the countries with the most international students applying to study in Finland (504). For the past few years, these two top applicant countries have been the same.

“The coronavirus crisis continues to impede our clients’ ability to travel or visit Finnish missions around the world. Queues are longer than usual as Finnish missions reopen their operations,” said Anu Tarén, head of the section for the service.

According to the Finnish Immigration Service, 3,870 first residence permits were awarded to students between January and August of 2021. The majority of these permit decisions, 93 %, were favourable.

“The majority of student applicants received a positive decision. “The most common reason for negative decisions is that the student is encountering financial difficulties,” Tarén explained.

The service is now working to streamline the application procedure for a residence permit and reduce application processing times. By 2023, the aim is to have a study permit approved in less than a month.

From January to August 2021, the typical processing time for a first study permit was 12 days, with half of all applicants receiving a decision in that time frame or less.

In terms of post-study work rights, a student receives a one- or two-year residence visa for studies, after which the student asks for an extension.

Students who have completed their studies can stay in Finland and work, for example, and apply for an extended visa based on their work.
“If a student is unemployed, he or she might request for an extended visa to look for work or start a business. This makes it possible to look for a job after studies,” added Tarén.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is now working on “We are working together with educational institutions to simplify the processing of study-related residence permits,” Tarén stated.

“For example, in a project focused at enhancing the conditions of admission for international students, we established facilitative measures in collaboration with higher education institutions, ministries, and other authorities. We got a lot of nice ideas from the project.” legislation to make it easier for international students and researchers to stay in Finland. The idea is to provide students longer permits than they currently have.


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