Finland is reportedly mulling a new bill that would allow international students studying in Finland to have more time to find a job after graduation and increase the number of hours they can work per week.
According to YLE, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment said it is proposing a string of amendments that would allow international students to stay for two years rather than one after graduation. They would also get a single visa for the duration of their study period.
“By granting a continuous residence permit to students in higher education degree programmes, it’s possible for them to receive a permanent residence permit and also of course citizenship sooner than presently,” said Jarmo Tiukkanen, a senior officer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment was quoted saying by the Helsinki Times.
Tiukkanen said parliament still needs to review and vote on the proposed reforms, but if approved, they would go into force on April 1, 2022.
Currently, students studying in Finland must renew their study-based visas every year or two. YLE added that the proposed reform also includes plans to change the status of international student visas from the current “B” (temporary) to “A” (continuous), effectively shortening the duration of residency needed to apply for Finnish citizenship, compared to the current arrangement.
If the reforms are approved, students studying in Finland will still need to meet the same requirements for permanent residency as other immigrants.
The proposed amendments would also see those studying in Finland have extended weekly working hours, from 25 hours to 30 hours. However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has stated that the number of weekly hours could vary as long as it stays under the annual limit. Internships and on-the-job training would not be counted towards the working time limit.
“The permit is currently granted for one year, but after the change, it’d be granted for two years. Using this permit would also become more flexible in other ways,” said Tiukkanen, adding that students can use this permit to search for jobs after their graduation.
Under the proposed reforms, international students who have finished studying in Finland are allowed to apply for the permit up to five years after their initial study permit has expired. This would allow students to return to their respective countries or work in other countries before returning to Finland to find a job.
Study in Finland notes that finding a job in Finland can be challenging as not all fields of study offer opportunities for employment before graduation. They add that job applicants may also be required to have Finnish or Swedish language skills.