The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers expresses its gratitude for the opportunity to comment on the draft Government proposal to amend the Act on the Conditions of Entry and Residence of Third-Country Nationals on the Basis of Research, Study, Internship and Volunteering (719/2018) and Section 56 of the Aliens Act (301/2004).
FUURT states the following:
In the draft, the Government proposes that third-country national researchers would be granted a residence permit that is valid for a longer period of time than at present. Researchers would be granted a residence permit for four years or, at most, for the duration of the contract with the educational institution, if the contract is valid for less than four years. Previously, a residence permit could only be granted for a maximum duration of two years at a time, even if one’s contract was longer.
Researchers pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree would have their own provision in the law (Section 6 b). The provision states that researchers pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree would be granted a residence permit that is valid until they complete their degree. The first residence permit would be valid for five years. A researcher pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree would only be required to submit a statement of sufficient financial resources for the first year of residence. The requirement for sufficient financial resources would, however, remain for the entire duration of the residence permit and would be monitored.
If the degree is not completed within five years, the researcher could apply for an extended permit to complete the degree. In this case, a statement on the duration of the remaining research would be required based on the assessment of the educational institution in question. An extended residence permit could be granted for a maximum of four years.
The proposed changes are highly welcomed and are in keeping with the changes presented earlier by the Union. They would ease the daily lives of researchers from third countries and further facilitate the process of settling in Finland.
Researchers are precisely the extremely highly educated people that Finland is looking to attract and retain. Presently, the residence permits for doctoral researchers are linked to the duration of the researchers’ funding period. As the funding for researchers is often fragmented and short in duration, researchers have been forced to apply for extended permits up to several times each year.
Furthermore, researchers have not been able to get residence permits that are valid longer than two years even if they had funding for a longer period of time. This has led to a stressful and expensive situation, and is apt to give the impression that researchers are not welcome in Finland.
The proposed amendment would outright change this scenario in a more positive direction. It is especially important to ensure that researchers pursuing a postgraduate scientific degree will, in the future, have a guaranteed five years to simply focus strictly on completing their degree. This would secure the conditions to continue living in Finland even after the completion of their degree.
The Union emphasises that scientific research is, by nature, international, and success within a scientific career often requires mobility across borders. Moving forward, it is important for researchers coming to Finland from third countries to also have the possibility to move and conduct research temporarily in another EU or EEA country during the period when their residence permit in Finland is valid. The purpose of the proposed amendment has not been to weaken the mobility of researchers, and all efforts must be made to ensure that there is no possibility of misinterpretation as concerns these aspects.
Helsinki, Finland 25 August 2022
Executive Director Johanna Moisio, PhD
Senior Adviser Maija Mattila, D.Soc.Sc.