At a Glance
Due to increased application volumes, government processing times for Residence Permit for a Specialist applications – the main Finnish work authorization type for experts and managers – have increased from three to five weeks to three to four months, and residence card issuance processing times have increased from two to three weeks to three to four weeks.
Visa nationals without a Schengen visa are most affected by these delays as they can only enter Finland and start working after they have collected their residence card.
Visa-exempt nationals and Schengen visa holders may also face a gap during which they can reside in but cannot work in Finland, as well as additional work start date delays since in-country biometrics appointment waiting times have also increased.
Due to increased application volumes, government processing times for Residence Permit for a Specialist applications – the main Finnish work authorization type – have increased.
Foreign nationals and their employers are affected as follows:
Visa nationals without Schengen visa. These applicants can only enter Finland and start working after their residence permit is approved and their residence card issued. These travelers face several months' delay to their work start dates due first to the residence permit processing delay (up from three to five weeks to three to four months,) and second to the residence card issuance delay (up from two to three weeks to three to four weeks).
Visa-exempt nationals and Schengen visa holders. As before, these applicants can work for up to 90 calendar days following the submission of their residence permit application, during which time the residence permit would have usually been issued. After this 90-day period, applicants can stay in Finland but must stop working if they do not have a residence permit. This group of travelers may face a gap during which they can reside in but cannot work in Finland. Additionally, this group of applicants (who must schedule and attend a biometrics appointment at the Immigration Service (MIGRI) before they can start work) face additional work start date delays since appointment waiting times are up from 1-21 days to up to 30 days.
Employers should plan for work authorization gaps and start date delays accordingly.
In March 2019, Fragomen reported an increase in application processing times from two to four to three to five weeks. The current delays result from increased application volumes.
The Finnish government has reported that it will actively seek to improve employment-based immigration services and processing times to combat the high unemployment rate that has resulted from low birth rates and an aging population. Plans include transferring employment-based immigration processing from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in early 2020 to streamline processing through specialized services; creating efficiencies in the work-based residence permit process for seasonal workers; creating a government program to improve employers' foreign worker recruitment and skills building practices; and reforms focused on preventing employment-related abuses of foreign workers.
However, in the short term, Fragomen expects the delays to continue or worsen due to both the forthcoming year-end rush as well as the recent layoffs at the Immigration Service office due to lack of funding.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.