Acquiring Finnish Citizenship

Why would one even want to be a Finnish citizen? I’ve lived in other countries before – Philippines (my birth country), Malaysia, and USA. And I’ve realized that Finland has its own charm. The people here are genuine. They smile when the sun is shining bright. They offer help when they notice you need it. They don’t discriminate, and they don’t try to meddle in your personal lives.

Finland also offers its natural beauty with its different seasons. In Spring, the leaves begin to grow and flowers bloom, all boasting off their lively vivid colors. In Summer, the sun shines almost the entire day which encourages everyone to just go out and do something, whether it’s to sail, grill, hike, cycle, jog, or pick fresh berries from their nearby forest. In Autumn, the ground is painted by the orange and yellow leaves. In Winter, the frozen sea invites people to walk (or cycle) across and hop from one island to another. It’s also the best season to view the northern lights.

Here, I can take a month off without feeling guilty because everyone is encouraged to do so as part of the paid vacations. Finland is also a country that offers free education and cheap health care. Not to mention, the Finnish passport allows the holder visa-free access to 157 countries.

Requirements

If you are planning to take the Finnish citizenship, it’s always better to check from the source if the process or requirements have changed. Migri has a list of that in their website. Basically, you need to satisfy 6 requirements. Here’s how I fulfilled those.

Period of Residence

I moved here to Finland as a specialist with a type A residence permit that was valid for one year. The immigration always provides one year for the first residence permit. Around 3 months before my permit expired, I renewed my type A residence permit which then became valid for 4 years. Note that to apply for Finnish citizenship, you only need a total of 4 years residency with type A residence permit so I’ve heard others were offered 3 years during their renewal, but I would suggest that you renew for 4 years instead. This would give you one year to apply for citizenship, thus making it cheaper for you because you can only start filing for your citizenship application on your 4th year of residency and your application will not be approved if your residence permit is expired by the time the decision has been made. In that sense, if you took the 3 year residence permit, you would need to apply and pay for a permanent residence permit so that you have a valid one before you acquire your citizenship.

Integrity

Well, don’t commit any crimes or offenses. As long as you don’t have any criminal records, you should be cleared for this part. Parking violations are fine as I’ve had those, but I suppose you shouldn’t have that many as well.

Payment Obligations

If you have any debts, make sure those are settled. If you have any fines (like parking violation fines), those should be paid as well. I paid mine on time.

Means of Support

As I was employed at the time of my application, I submitted a copy of my latest payslip to prove that I have a source of income. On the week that they were processing my application, they asked for an updated copy of my payslip.

Establishment of Identity

To verify my identity, I provided a copy of my Philippine passport.

Language Skills

Some people choose to take vocational courses or university degrees that are taught in Finnish, which upon graduation provides them with a certificate indicating they completed their course in Finnish. That is enough as proof for language skills.

However, for people like me, who are employed and don’t use a single word of Finnish at work since our company’s default language is English, I needed to resort to taking the Yleinen kielitutkinto (YKI) test. The YKI certificate will be delivered to your home. Once you get that and you satisfy any of the following combinations, then you’ve fulfilled this requirement:

  • Speaking (level 3 or 4) + Writing (level 3 or 4)
  • Listening (level 3 or 4) + Writing (level 3 or 4)
  • Reading (level 3 or 4) + Speaking (level 3 or 4)

Citizenship Application

When you’ve met all the requirements mentioned above, you can begin applying for the citizenship. Your application should be pretty recent, so I suggest that you book an appointment at the Migri service center prior to filling in your application form so that your documents and details aren’t outdated by the time they process your application. Filling in the form 2-3 weeks before your appointment should be enough.

When booking your appointment, choose the category “Citizenship” then “Citizenship Application” service. You can choose an office to filter down the slots for the specified location. Select the desired time slot from the options rendered.

After booking your appointment, visit EnterFinland.fi and create a user account (if you don’t have one yet). You will need your Finnish banking credentials to create an account. Have scanned copies of the required documents ready. This includes copies of your passport, YKI certificate, and payslip. Other details that you may need to prepare beforehand would be:

  • Details about your parents including their birth dates, birth places and your mother’s maiden name
  • Date when you moved to Finland
  • Out of the country travels that you have done while you were living in Finland. You should be able to tell the destination, dates of departure and return, and reason for the travel (e.g. vacation, business trip, visit parents). This is needed to verify that you have stayed in Finland long enough to fulfill the period of residence.
  • If employed, start date of employment. Prepare a copy of your employment contract as well.

Navigate through the EnterFinland website until you reach the Citizenship Application page. Start filling in the online application form and upload all the required documents. Submit your application and pay for the €350 processing fee via the EnterFinland service. You can pay the fee with credit cards or online Finnish banking services.

On the day of your appointment at Migri, bring the following:

  • Original passport
  • Original versions of the documents that you attached in your application (e.g. YKI certificate, passport or ID, employment contract, payslip)

After you submit and verify your application at the Migri service point, you can follow the progress of your application via EnterFinland e-service portal. Further clarifications are also communicated via that portal. You will be notified via email or SMS if there is a pending action for you. I had been requested through that portal to submit my latest payslip. I simply responded back using the online service and attached the requested document. When a decision has been made, you will again be notified via email or SMS, and you can read the result from EnterFinland e-service.

The waiting period for the decision varies, depending on how correct your application is and the volume of applications being processed by Migri. When I applied for my citizenship, the service was still handled by the Finnish Police. That took around 5 months before I was asked to submit my latest payslip, then a week later, I got the decision. As it’s only this year that Migri started processing citizenship applications, I do not know if the length of processing has changed.

Passport Application

If you are granted a Finnish citizenship, Migri will Väestörekisterikeskus to update your details in the Population Information System. You can verify your details online using your Finnish banking credentials.

Naturally, you’d probably want to apply for a Finnish passport and/or identity card. In some European countries, the ID card can be considered as a travel document. It may also serve as your Kela card, and can be used as an official ID as proof of identity instead of bringing your Finnish passport with you. You may apply for these at the Finnish Police through their online service or in person.

When applying online, you must first have your photo taken by photographers that are able to submit an electronic passport photo directly to the Police. The list of such photographers are made available here. They will provide you with a photograph retrieval code which you will enter in your online application.

When logging into the online service, you will again need your banking credentials. You can apply for both the Finnish passport and identity card at the same time. If it’s your first time to apply for a passport, you will need to visit a Police service point to have your fingerprints and signature taken. However, if it isn’t your first time, and your fingerprints and signature were taken less than 6 years ago, you may be able to renew your passport without the need to visit a Police service point.

For identity cards, whether it’s the first time or renewal, you will need to visit a Police service point.

If there is a need to visit the Police, you will be redirected to the appointment page where you can choose your preferred location and time slot. Whenever you visit the Police, always bring a form of identification with you (e.g. passport, identity card, driving license).

An identity card costs €50. A standard processing of passport costs €44 with delivery time of 1-4 working days, while a fast-track passport costs €61 and an express passport costs €79, both of which has a delivery time of 0-1 working day. For more updated information, please visit the corresponding pages for processing times here and payment information here.

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