Work Permit Process in Finland Antti Helin, Adviser Immigration Unit June 4th 2014 Key regulations • The Aliens Act (2004). The provisions on work permits were overhauled as of January 1st 2014. The Aliens Act is based on previous immigration legislation from the 1990s • The Act on Administrative Procedure (2003), which governs all use of administrative power by Finnish authorities • The Act on the Use of the Act on Administrative Procedure (1996), which governs the appeals process • The Act on the Aliens Register (1997), which governs the right to store and process the personal information of foreigners • The Finnish Immigration Service's internal guidelines, on e.g. work permits and income requirements Work permits in Finland • There are two kinds of residence permit: permits that are granted on the basis of work, and permits that include a right to work. • Permits granted on the basis of work always include the right to work in the kind of work the permit was granted for. • Permits that include a right to work can grant a limited right to work, or, usually, an unlimited right to work. • Finland does not have a long-term visa system: all stays of over 90 days are covered by the residence permit system instead. • The residence permit is issued in the form of a plastic card. • Virtually all work permits require the applicant to have an offer of employment or a contract of employment when applying. Who doesn't need a work permit? • In addition to those whose permit includes the right to work, a work permit is not required from those who are – Citizens of any EU/EEA country – Asylum seekers (their right to employment begins three or six months after applying, the right terminates once the asylum application has been resolved) – Employed in a specific task which is exempted from the permit requirement by law, and staying for less than 90 days • A work permit is required from everyone else. • Employees in specified fields are exempted from requiring a permit, provided they work for no more than 90 days in Finland: – Experts (ICT, engineers, etc.), interpreters and teachers – Professional athletes and artists, film crews – Certain types of agricultural and seasonal labour: picking berries, harvesting or planting vegetables, caring for fur animals – Contractor or subcontractor work, if the employee has a work permit in another EU/EEA country – Professional drivers, under certain conditions – A visa is still necessary if there is no visa waiver agreement Types of residence permit for employment • Residence permit for an employed person – Most common permit for non-EU labour immigration (3305 applications made in 2013) – Requires a partial decision from the Employment and Economic Development (TE) Office to determine labour conditions and availability • Residence permit for other employment – Second most common permit (2377 in 2013) – Exempted from the partial decision process – For certain professions specified in the law • Residence permit for a self-employed person – Third most common permit (118 in 2013) – Requires a partial decision from the Centre for Economic Development (ELY) to determine viability • EU Blue Card for experts (5 applications made in 2013) Division of authority in the process • Applications are received by Finnish embassies and consulates abroad, or by the local police when applying in the country. – For an employed person, the application is sent to TE for the partial decision, then to Migri for the final decision – For a self-employed person, sent to ELY for the partial decision, then to Migri for the final decision – For other employment, sent directly to Migri for processing and the final decision. • If the partial decision is negative, the final decision is always negative. • If the partial decision is positive, Migri may still make a negative decision if the general requirements are not met. Receive the application Embassy Police Make partial decision TE Office ELY Centre Make final decision Immigration Service Division of authority in the process • Advantages: – Every agency maintains and applies its own field of expertise (e.g. knowledge of the labour market) – Resources are targeted to where they are needed – Agencies don't need to establish their own infrastructure for parts of the process (e.g. service points) • Disadvantages: – Agencies need to harmonize policies and practices, and have to communicate constantly and effectively to do so – Agencies are not in a hierarchical relationship to each other, so resolving inter-agency conflicts can be difficult – Confusing to applicants and laymen, which can be a burden on resources by itself Meeting the general requirements • A residence permit may not be granted – To a person who poses "a danger to public order, security or health or to Finland's international relations" – To a person who has been banned from entering Finland or the Schengen Area (unless negotiated otherwise) – If there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the applicant intends to evade the provisions on entry into or residence in the country • The third and last reason is the most common basis for making a negative decision when the partial decision has been positive. – Determined by interviewing the applicant, requesting further information or clarifications, and checking the authenticity of the documentation provided. Residence permit for an employed person • The most typical work permit issued (3305 in 2013) • Typical professions: cook, cleaner, agricultural labourer • Typical countries of origin: Ukraine (667 issued in 2013), Russia (609), Philippines (204), China (113), Thailand (109) • Can cover a certain professional field, or a certain professional field under a certain employer. In the former case, changing employers is possible on the same permit. • In 2013, 69 % of applications were accepted • Controlled by the TE Office's partial decision process Residence permit for other work • The second most typical work permit issued (1337), usually for special experts (995 issued in 2013) • Typical countries of origin: India (752), USA, Russia • The variety within this category is considerable. The purpose of this category is to exempt individuals with special expertise and certain organizations from the partial decision process. • In 2013, approx. 97 % of applications were accepted. Residence permit for other work (cont.) • • • • • • • • • Special experts and upper and middle management Professional athletes, coaches and referees Professional scientists and artists Professional journalists and market researchers, whose employer does not have premises in Finland Those who have finished a degree in a Finnish institution of learning Visiting consultants, teachers, educators and researchers, for up to 12 months Those employed by non-profit organizations Those employed by inter-governmental organizations Interns for IGOs or in cases where the internship matches the intern's studies, and intra-company transfers for degree holders, for up to 18 months Residence permit for a self-employed person • Third most typical permit issued (65 in 2013). • Typical fields of business: restaurants, cleaning, postal delivery. • In 2013, 60 % of applications were accepted. • Possible reasons for relatively high degree of denials: – The difficulty in reliably demonstrating the viability of a business, and the economic downturn – This permit type seems to be vulnerable to attempts of evading regulations; or such attempts are easier to prove EU Blue Card • The rarest type of work permit issued (5 in 2013) • For work that requires a high degree of competence or expertise, and lasts a minimum of 12 months • The requirements of the Blue Card are stricter than the special expert permit, but their status in Finland is essentially equal. The Blue Card is only significant if the person is already planning to migrate to another EU country later on. • The salary requirement for a special expert is 3000 euros per month. The Blue Card requirement is currently 4809 euros per month. Practicalities of the process • The work permit section of the Immigration Unit processes all first work permit applications for the entire country. There were 5800 such applications in 2013. The team also handles the deportation and removal decisions for people who are in the country on a work permit. • The section currently has 12 members • The great majority of the time is spent on processing and resolving applications and the paperwork that comes with that, and giving statements to the Administrative Court on appealed decisions. Practicalities of the process (cont.) • All members of the team answer customer calls three days a week for one hour. Because of the wide variety in the field of business and employment, the questions can be very difficult. • Everyone is also available for other Finnish authorities who may need advice throughout every working day • All decisions are written and executed through the electronic processing system. All documents are signed electronically and never by hand. • There is no field work.