Are you enjoying international protection in Finland? Did you come to the country in 2015, during the great wave of asylum seeker arrivals? If the answer to these questions is affirmative, the information explained below may be very important for you.
In autumn 2019, many of those persons who came to Finland as asylum seekers in 2015 can apply for a permanent residence permit, according to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The law estates that a person can apply for a permanent residence permit after having lived in Finland for an uninterrupted period of four years with a continuous residence permit.
Having a permanent residence permit is a very interesting option because it has many advantages. The main one is that it will avoid many bureaucratic complications: a permanent residence permit is valid until further notice. In other words, its period of validity is not limited.
Who can get a permanent residence permit?
According to the information published by Migri in its customer bulletin, you can get a permanent residence permit if you meet the (both) following requirements:
- You have lived in Finland for an uninterrupted period of four years with a continuous residence permit (the A permit) and
- The grounds on which you were granted a continuous residence permit still exist.
Migri remarks two important things that should be taken into account. First, for a person who has received international protection the period of continuous residence is counted from the date of entry into the country. And second, if you have been granted a residence permit on the basis of international protection (asylum or subsidiary protection), normally the conditions for granting a continuous residence permit still exist.
However, applicants should also keep in mind that there are some reasons that can negatively influence their requests: "If you have committed a crime or are suspected of a crime, the permanent residence permit may be refused", Migri stressed.
When should permanent permits be requested?
You should apply for a permanent residence permit before your previous residence permit expires.
However, you should not apply for the permit earlier than approximately three months before your fixed-term residence permit expires. If you apply before this, the Finnish Immigration Service may not be able to examine whether the requirements for issuing you with the permit are met.
How to apply for a permanent residence permit
If you intend to apply for a permanent residence permit in Finland, follow the steps listed below:
- Fill in the application in the immigration authority online service Enter Finland. If you are unable to use the online service, you can submit a paper application.
- Book an appointment at one of the service points of the Finnish Immigration Service using its appointment booking system.
- Pay the processing fee in advance in the online service, or when you visit the service point at the latest.
- During the same visit you can also apply for an alien’s passport or a refugee travel document. There are no separate application forms for these. In this case, you should bring with you a photo no more than six months old and be prepared to pay for the processing fee.
You can find more information about the permanent residence and the requirements for granting it HERE
Finnish citizenship application
According to Migri's statement, if you came to Finland as a refugee or have been granted a residence permit on the basis of international protection you can also apply for citizenship after having lived in Finland for four years without interruption.
One of the requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship is that your identity has been reliably established. This means that you have, for instance, a passport or some other legal identity document. You must also be able to prove that you have sufficient language skills in either Finnish or Swedish.
There are also other requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship. You can read more about them here. Remember to make sure that you have a valid residence permit when you apply for citizenship. The residence permit must be valid during the entire time when your citizenship application is being processed.