The Finnish higher education system is appreciated worldwide. Learning in universities or polytechnics (Universities of Applied Sciences – UAS) is free for EU/EEA students, and it also provides an exciting student life.
Numerous international students enrol in degree courses in Finland yearly and enjoy the balanced schedule and interactive courses, but there are some things you should know about the visa and all the bureaucratic endeavours you will need to resolve.
Before applying for a Finnish student visa
You cannot apply for a visa/residence permit without actually being accepted at a university, so it should be pretty obvious you will first need to apply, get accepted, and enrol at a university.
Some of the best universities in Finland are:
- University of Jyväskylä
- University of Eastern Finland
- Lappeenranta University of Technology
- Samara National Research University
If these don’t appeal to you, you can always try and search for a university depending on the discipline you’re interested in. Some of the most popular study options in Finland are:
Who needs a Finnish student visa and types of student visas
In this article, we use the terms "student visa" and "residence permit" interchangeably. However, there are important differences between the two documents:
- the visa might be needed if you plan to stay or study in Finland for 90 days or less
- the residence permit is needed if you plan to stay or study in Finland for more than 90 days
- only non-EU/EEA students need to apply for a visa or a residence permit
International students who don't need to apply for a visa/residence permit still have to register with the local authorities, especially if their degree takes more than 90 days to finish.
Tips on applying for the Finnish residence permit
As a starting point, you can apply for a residence permit at the embassy or representative office in your country. You can also apply online, using the official Finnish Immigration Service.
But you will still need to visit the local embassy to verify your identity and submit copies of other documents you might need during the application process.
An online application for the Finnish residence permit comes with other benefits:
- the processing for the electronic application takes 2-3 months, while the processing for the paper application takes around 3 months
- the electronic application fee is 350 EUR, while the paper application fee is 450 EUR
The documents required for the student visa application
These are some of the general documents that apply to all non-EU/EEA citizens:
- Completed application form
- Certificate of acceptance from a Finnish higher education institution
- Proof that you can financially support yourself during your studies. The minimum amount you need to have at your disposal is 560 EUR/month (6,720 EUR/year).
- A valid passport and a passport photo
- If the attached documents are not in English, Finnish, or Swedish, you will also need official translations
- Proof that you paid the processing fee of 450 EUR (paper application)/350 EUR (electronic application)
- International student health insurance
After applying for the Finnish student visa
After applying, you need to make a new visit to the local embassy or consulate, to present originals and copies of the requested documents and to prove your identity.
You will have your fingerprints taken. This is also a part of the registration process, that will happen after you arrive in Finland, regardless of your country of origin.