FUURT has given a statement on the government proposal (draft) to reform the legislation regarding residence permits for third country nationals as students and researchers.
The Finnish government aims to reform and promote migration and integration of international talents and their families in Finland. To achieve this, the government proposes to extend the residence permits for higher education students for the whole duration of their studies. In addition, the residence permit for job searching or starting a business after completing a degree or research work is proposed to be extended from one year to two years.
However, the current proposal does not properly consider the situation of researchers. FUURT states that doctoral researchers should have a similar possibility as other degree students for a residence permit for the whole duration of their degree studies. Thus, the duration of the researcher residence permit should be based on the hosting agreement between the doctoral researcher and university, which usually follows the four-year plan to complete a doctoral degree. Other researchers should also be given longer residence permits when their hosting agreement or employment contract enable it.
The current researcher residence permit is for maximum two years (first permit) or four years (extended permit). In practice, however, the researcher residence permit is based on the duration of employment contract or funding period, which often means that the residence permit needs to be renewed annually. This continuous fragmentation of work and living in Finland causes stress and financial hardship for international researchers and their families. FUURT emphasises that in order to attract and retain international talent better, Finland needs to improve its migration policy and these reforms need to be extended also to researchers.