A residence permit is a permit to enter a country repeatedly and stay there. It is issued to a foreigner for purposes other than tourism or similar short-term stays. A residence permit is needed when a foreigner stays in Finland for more than three months. A residence permit must be applied for even if the duration of the stay is less than three months if the purpose is to engage in paid employment and a residence permit based on employment is required for this.
A residence permit may be issued for a fixed term or permanently. A fixed-term residence permit is issued for a temporary stay (temporary residence permit, B) or a continuous stay (continuous residence permit, A) in the country. The type of the residence permit depends on the purpose of the stay. As a rule, the first fixed-term residence permit is issued for one year.
All permit applications for foreign nationals are processed by the Finnish Immigration Service.
Continuous residence permit – A
This permit is issued to a foreigner who has immigrated to Finland on a permanent basis, for example as an asylum seeker or a quota refugee. A residence permit based on refugee status and subsidiary protection is issued for four years. The permit must be renewed after this period. A permanent residence permit bears the letter A.
Temporary residence permit – B
This permit is issued to a foreigner who does not intend to stay in Finland permanently. For example, it may be issued when there are no grounds for granting asylum but refusing entry to the person is not possible on a temporary basis for health reasons, or removing the person from the country is not possible in practice. The permit is valid for a year at a time, and it can only be renewed once.
After two years’ uninterrupted stay in the country, a person to whom a temporary residence permit has been granted will be issued with a continuous residence permit if the circumstances on the basis of which the previous fixed-term permit was issued are still valid. A temporary residence permit bears the letter B.
Permanent residence permit – P
A permanent residence permit is issued to a person who has stayed in Finland continuously for four years on a continuous residence permit (A permit). Exceptions may be made due to the reason of the stay or other special considerations. If the nature of the permit has changed from continuous to temporary during the four-year period, a permanent residence permit may not be issued. The permit is issued until further notice, and there is no need to renew it. A permanent residence permit bears the letter P.
A residence permit based on employment (temporary or continuous)
This permit is issued to a foreigner who is coming to Finland to work in the service of a Finnish employer, or an employer operating in Finland, or who has concluded an employment contract or accepted a binding job offer. A residence permit based on employment is issued on a discretionary basis.
A residence permit for a student (temporary)
This permit is issued to a foreigner who comes to Finland to study at a Finnish educational institution that has already admitted him or her. The studies must lead to a qualification or an occupation.
Residence permit based on family ties (continuous)
This permit is issued to a foreigner who is an unmarried child aged under 18 or the guardian of an underage child of a person living in Finland, or the spouse or same-sex registered partner of a person living in Finland, or the co-habiting partner of such a person with whom he or she has lived together for at least two years and with whom he or she has a child in joint custody. The reasons may also include continuing established family life or full dependence on a family member living in Finland.
Residence permit card
The residence permit card is a card issued by the Finnish Immigration Service used by non-EU citizens to prove that they have a residence permit in Finland. Biometric identifiers, including a facial photo and two fingerprints, are stored on the card’s chip. The residence permit card is not an official identity document. Cf. residence card.