Legislation to ease work-based immigration enters into force
The amendments to the Aliens Act will streamline the application and decision-making process for work-based residence permits. The reform is part of a broader package that aims to reduce the average processing time of permits to a maximum of one month. The new provisions will increase the automation of the application process and introduce a certification for employers.
The Government’s objective is to increase work-based and education-based immigration in order to ensure the availability of skilled labour for the support of Finland’s growth and internationalisation. The measures to streamline work-based immigration are part of the roadmap for education-based and work-based immigration extending to 2035, which the Talent Boost action plan has implemented during this government term.
The amendments to Chapter 5 of the Aliens Act recently approved by the President of the Republic support other measures already carried out to speed up work-based residence permit processes. The legislative amendments will enter into force on 23 February 2023.
“Our work to develop the process has already paid off. The processing times for all work-based permits have been reduced significantly, and we are already at the top level concerning the permits for specialists and growth entrepreneurs in Europe. The strong growth in the number of permits granted also shows that Finland is an attractive destination for international talent. The amendments to the Aliens Act are an important additional tool for streamlining the immigration process further,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.
Use of automation speeds up processing
The Aliens Act lays down provisions on the general requirements for issuing all work-based residence permits and on the obligations of employers and employees in the residence permit process.
The new rules will enable a more extensive use of automation and information obtained from various official registers. This reduces the need to request information from the applicant or employer.
To ensure a fast permit procedure, it is important that the applicant and the employer primarily use the online service. However, paper applications are still accepted. The reform will also make it possible to organise oral hearings of the applicants through a remote connection.
In addition, allowing the applicants to receive their first permit as long as they have a valid travel document at the time of the decision will increase flexibility. This has already been the practice in the applications for extended permits.
Employer certification simplifies the permit process of reliable employers
The Act lays down provisions on employer certification. The certification can be granted, upon application, to an employer who recruits a large number of foreign workforce and who has been found to be a reliable operator in residence permit matters based on various economic and other figures. Employer certification indirectly speeds up the permit processes of all employers, as resources can be released for the processing of other permits.
Two new permits
A person who has completed a qualification or research in Finland can now apply for a new kind of residence permit that takes a broad view of the required means of support. The purpose of the amendment is encourage 75% of the students to stay in Finland.
Specialists will also receive a separate residence permit, which requires an income equal to the average wage-earner’s gross earnings in Finland.
Active efforts to prevent exploitation of labour
At the same time as Finland promotes work-based immigration, it also actively combats the exploitation of foreign labour. The revised Act specifies the regulation concerning the supervision of the use of foreign workforce.
In addition to the TE Office, the new regulations allow the Finnish Immigration Service to issue decisions to suspend the granting of work-based residence permits to certain employers. At the same time, the scope of application of the suspension decision will be expanded to cover all work-based permits. The decision will be issued for a minimum of three months and a maximum of one year.