Finland is known to have one of the best education systems in the world. Almost half of its population has a higher degree. And it’s no surprise as it offers a variety of study programs and the tuition fee for its residents and for students from the EU is free.
Even for international students, the tuition fee is very affordable and third-country nationals can enjoy the same rights as any student due to Finland’s equal opportunities policy. However, as a third-country national you will most likely need a Finland student visa in order to study there.
Do I Need a Visa to Study in Finland?
Third-country nationals need a visa to study in Finland. Anyone who is not from the countries listed below is a third-country national:
- The Schengen Area or the EEA/EU.
- The US., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, and any other country that has a visa agreement with Finland.
Students who can study in Finland without a visa can only do so for 90 days, if their study program lasts longer they have to register as temporary residents in Finland until they finish their studies.
International students who need a visa in order to study can apply either for a Schengen visa or a long-term student visa.
Students whose study program lasts only for 90 days should apply for the Schengen study visa.
Finland Student Visa Requirements
These are the required documents you need to attach to your visa application:
- You must have a valid passport at the time of your application. Your passport is considered valid if it was issued during the last 10 years and it won’t expire for another three months after you depart Finland.
- Identity picture. A recent identity picture must be part of the application. Follow the Schengen visa photo rules when you take the picture.
- Copy of your passport’s bio page. In recent years Finland now requires applicants for any type of visa to attach a copy of their passport’s bio page.
- Proof of enrollment. You need to provide proof that you were accepted for a study program at a university in Finland.
- Health insurance. You must also provide international student health insurance that covers all kinds of medical emergencies and is valid during your stay in Finland.
- Sufficient financial means. You must have at least €560 in your personal bank account per month that covers everyday expenses during your studies.
- Proof of paid tuition fee. You must include a certificate proving that you have paid your tuition fee, if you haven’t done so then you need to provide evidence that you have enough financial means to pay the fee.
- Evidence of scholarship. If you are the beneficiary of a scholarship that covers your tuition fee then you need to provide a certificate proving that you will be supported financially by the scholarship.
- Civil status documents. This refers to documents such as your birth certificate, marriage license, divorce license, adoption paper, etc.
- Previous certificate degrees. These are not required for degree students and exchange students.
In order to qualify for a student visa you must also meet these criteria:
- You must be enrolled at a university in Finland, which means you must apply for your study program before you apply for your visa.
- You must have no travel bans for the Schengen Area.
- You must have no criminal charges.
- You must not be a danger to Finland and its interests.
*Please note that the Finnish authorities reserve the right to ask for any extra required documents.
How to Apply for a Finland Student Visa?
This is how you apply for a Finland Student Visa:
- Apply for university.
- Apply for a student visa.
- Go to a local Finnish mission.
- Wait for an answer.
- Go to Finland.
Apply for university
As a potential future student in Finland, the first thing you need to do is find a university there that suits your study program. As soon as you have a school in mind then you should apply at the university. If you are not accepted, you won’t receive a student visa. Proof of enrollment is obligatory.
Apply for a student visa
Once you receive your acceptance letter then you can apply for a student visa. In this case, you actually need a residence permit on the basis of studying. The application process for the permit starts by creating a user account here. Once you create an account select the application form for a ‘residence permit on the grounds of a study program’ in the e-service.
Fill in the online application with the correct information and submit your application. You must attach scanned copies of the required documents (see above) to your application.
If by any chance you can’t fill in an online application then you can visit a local embassy or consulate and fill in a paper application in person.
Go to a local Finnish mission
Once you submit your application through the e-service then you have to go to the embassy to prove your identity and submit your fingerprints. Bring all the documents you submitted in the online service with you. Additionally, you must pay the application fee at the embassy/consulate.
If you apply in person then similarly you will be asked to submit your fingerprints and pay the fee.
You might also be asked to sit for an interview. The interview is just to get a feel of your personality and your reasons why you want to study in Finland.
Wait for an answer
Once you submit your application you must patiently wait for an answer. The Finnish Immigration Office evaluates students’ applications as a top priority so the processing time will be done as soon as possible.
The time will vary especially if you are missing anything from your application and the embassy contacts you to submit the missing documents, but, the usual time it takes to review an application is usually some time between 1 to 3 months.
As soon as your application has been approved the Finnish Immigration Office will send your residence card to the embassy where you can then pick it up and leave for Finland.
Go to Finland
Once your application has been processed you will receive an answer regarding your visa.
Once your student visa application is ready you can depart to Finland. As soon as you arrive in Finland then you can register with a local Immigration Office so that your temporary status as an international student will be registered.
How Much Does a Finland Student Visa Cost?
The cost of the fee will depend on whether you apply through the e-service or in person.
- The fee for the online application: €350
- The fee for the paper application: €450
How Long Is a Finland Student Visa Valid?
A Finland student visa is valid for two years. If your study program lasts less than two years then the visa will be valid only for the duration of your study program.
Extending the Finland Student Visa
Your visa is valid for the duration of your program, if for some reason your study program is taking longer then you can extend your student permit until your studies are finished.
Can I Bring My Family Members With Me?
Yes, you can. Your family can apply for a residence permit on the basis of family ties. Afterward, they can switch to a resident permit on the basis of work if they are employed.
Can I Work With a Finland Student Visa?
You can freely work with a student visa if your work is related to your degree, however, if you work other jobs, you’re allowed to work only 25 hours per week during your semester.
Can I Stay After I Graduate?
Yes, you can. There are several options available for international students who want to stay in Finland after their study program is finished.
- Work visa. If you find a job after you graduate then you can apply for a work visa and continue living in Finland with a permit on the basis of employment.
- Job-seekers visa. If you don’t have a job but you wish to stay and work in Finland, then you can apply for a visa that lets you stay for one year in Finland as you look for a job. Once you have a job you must apply for a regular work permit.
- Researcher visa. If you wish to work within a research project or at a research center you can apply for a researcher visa. This visa allows you to work only in this field.
Switching From Student Visa to a Work Visa
If you manage to secure a job in Finland then you can switch your student visa to a work visa, or a researcher visa, depending on where your interest lay. The work visa is usually valid for a year but it can be extended as long as you have a job.