Job Market in Finland
Before I go into how to get a residence permit (work visa/permit) in Finland, I thought I’d give a little glimpse into the job market in Finland. I can’t speak to all job types, but for marketing, communications, and business jobs, I found that most of them require you to speak Finnish. This makes sense since most of the marketing and collateral will be done in the local language. That really narrowed down my options, as I couldn’t really work for any local companies, and had to move my search to international companies that had market focus outside of Finland and did business in English.
I was lucky enough to find one of the few international tech companies that was from Helsinki. Because they were focused on selling on a global level, English was the official language of the company and all of their marketing. At international companies, having English as your native language, was definitely an advantage. I also got lucky that this company does several trade shows in the U.S., which allows me to travel back home every now and then.
Once I got the job offer, I just needed a written contract from the company to apply for my first Finland residence permit. I’m not sure what the process is for other companies, but for this job, I was in charge of taking care of my application, which meant I had to pay for the application fee out of my own pocket and submit the application on my own. My company was very helpful though and gave me all the information I needed to fill out the application. It’s a pretty straight-forward process, and the Finnish Immigration website is very informative and helpful. They even have a chat feature if you have any questions.
Types of Residence Permit Applications for Working in Finland
1 Month Processing Time (350 EUR)
These are the residence permits that you can get in about 1 month.
- Specialist – This permit is if you’re a specialist, consultant, teacher or belong to the top or middle management of a company. Your gross income must be about EUR 3,000 per month.
- EU Blue Card – This is what I got. I didn’t even know this was an option until HR told me. The best thing about this type of residence permit, is that it allows you to move to a 2nd European Member State. Kimmo and I have thought about living in other cities in Europe, so this made the most sense. One thing to note about this permit, is that you need to have a gross income of at least 4,732 EUR per month.
- Other Types: Internship, Researcher, Season Work, Religious Community or a Non-Profit Association
Over 1 Month Processing Time (350-400 EUR)
- Employed Person (TTOL) – Must have a signed contract and (1-4 months processing time)
- Entrepreneur – You must have a profitable business and you’ll need to enter your business in the Trade Register maintained by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (6-10 months processing time)
- Start Up Entrepreneur – You’ll need a positive statement from Business Finland and secure means of support of 1,000 EUR/month for living costs (2-5 months processing time)
- Volunteer – Your volunteer work must be arranged through an organization that runs volunteer programs (Maailmanvaihto ry – ICYE Finland). Max volunteer time is 18 months (2 month processing time)
There are several other types of residence permits available, but those are the main ones. For the full list go to: https://migri.fi/en/working-in-finland/applications
What You’ll Need for the Application
I can’t speak for the other applications, but for the EU Blue Card, here’s what I needed for the Online Application:
- Employment Contract – Must state your job description, salary, and start date
- Proof of Higher Education Degree – I submitted my college transcripts and diploma
- Copy of Passport
After you fill out the application online, you’ll need to prove your identity. Luckily there is a local Finnish General Consulate in Los Angeles that I was able to go to. Here, I had to bring:
- Employment Contract
- Passport Photo adhering to these guidelines. By the way, this is different than the standard US passport photo, so places like CVS, Walgreens, and UPS can’t take these photos. Every country has different requirements, so make sure you check if the photo place can do passport photos for Finland. I went to Santa Monica Camera where the owner happened to have a Finnish wife and 2 children who have dual citizenship, so he was very familiar with the requirements, and even gave me tips on the Finnish Consulate in LA. What are the odds? Oh and one more thing, you must have a “neutral face” which means you can’t smile in the photo. That was so hard for me! And now my photo looks like a mugshot.
- Official Copy of Higher Education Degree – I brought official college transcripts
- Prepaid Self-Addressed Envelope – This is so they can mail you the decision documents and your residence permit card.
The process was so quick for me. I went to the Consulate on a Tuesday to prove my identity, and got a decision via email by Thursday! I must have been one of the few applications in the queue. Guess there aren’t tons of people stampeding to move to Finland… yet! My residence permit card came about 2 weeks after that. I’m ready for you Helsinki!