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Finland introduces fast-track entry for specialists and startup entrepreneurs

Finland is taking measures to expedite the immigration of skilled workers to its shores.Adobe

The processing time of a fast-track residence permit application for specialists, startup entrepreneurs and their family members moving to Finland has been cut to a maximum of two weeks.

Seeking to facilitate the faster processing of skilled immigration into the country, the Finnish Government at the start of June introduced the fast-track service for specialists such as IT experts and employees with a higher education degree whose work in Finland requires expert knowledge.

“The fast-track service is an important signal of the Finnish society’s willingness to welcome international experts to Finland and to improve the customer-friendliness of the actions of public authorities,” said Elina Immonen, acting director general at the Finnish Immigration Service. “Due to the fast-track service, international experts can arrive in Finland immediately after being granted a residence permit, regardless of where they come from.”

The move seeks to streamline the visa process to enable Finland to reach its goal of at least doubling work-based immigration by 2030. It is currently estimated that Finland needs 20 000 work-related immigrants a year to bridge its talent shortfall.

Finland is seeking to double work-based immigration by 2030. Image: N2Albiino / Helsinki Marketing

“We need experts from elsewhere in Finland. Companies simply need them to grow,” labour minister Tuula Haatainen said in an interview with the national broadcaster YLE.

The expedition of the application process addresses concerns from Finnish companies themselves, which are relying on as little red tape as possible to impede attracting skilled workers in a crowded European marketplace.

“Diversity brings culture and new views to problem-solving,” commented Maija Meriläinen, talent acquisition partner at Helsinki-based music education company Yousician. “Currently, we have 20 million active monthly users. How could a company build a product for multinational customers without having people who represent those customers?”

In addition to the permits for specialists and startup entrepreneurs, the Finnish Immigration Service aims next year to have the capacity to process other residence permits for work or studies within a maximum of one month. All applications are facilitated via its Enter Finland online service.

The reform comes on the heels of a legislative amendment that entered into force this spring enabling non-EU students to remain in Finland on the same residence permit for the duration of their studies. Previously they needed to renew their permit annually for each academic year. Furthermore, students and researchers are now also eligible for a two-year permit in order to look for work after graduating.

By: James O’Sullivan