It is the opinion of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers that the extended period of validity for first residence permits would significantly improve the position and participation of foreign researchers in Finland.
On Thursday, 17 November 2022, the Finnish Government issued a proposal to extend the length of first residence permits for researchers. The proposal would extend the first residence permits for researchers to a maximum of five years. This would signify a considerable improvement in terms of the conditions for research, since the current first residence permit for researchers is only granted for a maximum of two years, even when the researcher has guaranteed funding for a longer period of time.
The Union participated in the preparation of the proposal work and is satisfied with the Government’s final proposal.
‘It’s evident that this would be a significant improvement for foreign talent, in terms of their satisfaction with Finland and their desire to stay. It isn’t enough for universities to attract researchers to Finland; it is essential to ensure, by legislative means, that those researchers feel welcome and want to remain here’, says Maija Mattila, Senior Adviser at FUURT.
The previous law reform extended the first residence permits of undergraduate students to match the duration of their degree studies but ignored those who are pursuing a doctoral degree. This new legislative proposal rectifies this shortcoming and, at the same time, proposes the extension of first residence permits issued to researchers who are not pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree.
Requirements for the sufficient financial resources of researchers monitored
Doctoral researchers would have their own separate first residence permit – a first residence permit for researchers pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree. Pursuant to the proposal, the first residence permit for doctoral researchers would be granted for a period lasting five years, unless the permit is sought for a shorter period of time. When applying for the permit, the doctoral researcher is only required to submit a statement of sufficient financial resources for the first year of residence. Sufficient financial resources should, however, be assured for the entire duration of the residence permit. The fulfilment of the requirement for sufficient financial resources would be monitored afterwards.
The residence permit for other types of researchers would be valid for the duration of their contract with a research organisation, however for a maximum of five years.
The extended residence permit for researchers pursing a postgraduate scientific degree and other researchers would be valid for a maximum of four years. The duration of the extended residence permit for doctoral researchers would be based on a statement from the relevant university as to how long it will take to complete the degree in question. The duration of the extended residence permit for other researchers would be determined in accordance with the length of the contract with the relevant research organisation. If the supervision of financial resources shows that the requirement for sufficient financial resources was not met during the first residence permit, the extended residence permit can be denied.
The next step is for the Government proposal to be discussed by the Parliament. The reform is planned to enter into force 1 July 2023. The Union will do its part to ensure that there will be time to discuss the legislative proposal in Parliament prior to the end of the electoral term in March.