First, my hearty congratulations to all candidates who have received offers to study Master’s Degree at University of Jyväskylä! Your hard work has finally paid off. Allow yourself to celebrate a little bit. Some alcohol might be involved but don’t go overboard though because … brace yourself … tons of paperwork awaiting!
Now, for those who are EU citizens, you have nothing to worry about, celebrate, have some fun and pack your bags to come here in August or September.
For those who are not EU citizens and need to obtain a residence permit to come and stay here in Finland. You have a long and whining road waiting for you ahead.
Well, but what’d life be without some struggles, right? It’d be too boring to bear. I know the pain all too well, so I’ll try to walk you through it.
This is 100% from my own experiences, like any other information I've shared with you on this blog. I know that I sound like a broken record repeating this in many of my entries. I just need to make sure that you all understand that the information I share applies differently to each individual. Even if you ask another Vietnamese student, she/he might give you a different take on it. This should only act as your guide so you'll be alerted about what might be expected or unexpected.
Alright … applications for a residence permit might be different from country to country, from individual to individual; it is the best to consult with the Finnish embassy nearest to your place. However, there is some key information that you need to focus on.
Go to the website of Finnish Immigration Service to read the general introductions.
You’ll find the general process illustrated like this:
Then, go to the website of the Finnish embassy nearest to your place, read carefully the specific instructions for students applying for residence permits in that particular country/region. These should not be too different from the general requirements.
Generally, the required documents are:
- OLE_OPI application form (you can download it from here)
- An acceptance letter sent from University of Jyväskylä (1)
- A certificate of health insurance (2)
- A clarification of income (3)
(1) This will be sent to you by post together with the official package from the university. However, if you anticipate that you should apply for your residence permit quite early in order to obtain it before having to arrive in Finland for your study on time, you might ask for a scanned copy of your acceptance letter. I cannot assure you 100% that the embassy you go to will accept the scanned copy but in my case (in Vietnam), they accepted it. You can ask for this scanned copy from the person who sent you the email informing you about your being accepted into the program.
(2) Several students have asked me to recommend a health insurance company for them; I do think this very much depends on your personal preferences. However, I’ll list here for you some companies that I have used and I know that other international students here have used as well, only for your reference, I take no accountability for this, alright?! You can purchase all of these online.
Atlas Health Insurance
(3) With the clarification of income, remember that the most important thing is that you have to prove you will have access to this amount of money when you are in Finland. This means that it is the best if the account is under your name and not your parents' or guardian's. The number is 6720 euros/one year. You need to understand that the reason you are asked to provide this proof is to make sure that you can make it through the year without financial struggles. Please do not take this for granted and think of tricks to get past the process. I myself know people who thought they could easily find a job within the first few months they are here so they had managed to provide the income proof but did not come here with enough money. As I said in this entry about employment in Jyväskylä, it is very hard to find a job that can pay for all of your expenses here. So please, do come prepared.
Also, it is absolutely fine to use your local bank account for this, don’t even be bothered with opening a Finnish bank account from abroad, it ain’t gonna happen, my friends!
There are two options for you when it comes to submitting the application: in person or online. However, it doesn't matter which method you choose, you still have to go to the embassy in person for your fingerprints to be scanned there. Rumor is that if you apply online though, the process might be faster, which I can’t guarantee you because I have no data and information on this.
If you apply in person, you might have to make an appointment by calling the embassy or sending them emails. I did both; when I called them, they told me to better send them an email instead. Be patient! You might be ticked off quite a lot while communicating with the local staff at the embassy. I know I was. And I have been told that this is not just in the embassy in Vietnam. I understand that they have to answer a lot of phone calls and deal with a lot of people every day so they could be cranky sometimes. But isn’t it their jobs? If they don’t like their job and can’t possibly handle it without getting all nasty with those who ask questions, they might just as well quit it. Anyway, this varies though. I’ve also heard stories about very nice embassy staff though I’ve never encountered them myself.
DO NOT CALL AND SEND THE EMBASSY OR IMMIGRATION SERVICE EMAIL EVERY FEW DAYS TO ASK IF YOUR RESIDENCE PERMIT IS READY. YOU WILL NOT GET ANY ANSWERS.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you've done everything right, the residence permit will come to you (in post to your house or at the embassy for you to pick up) in 2-3 weeks from the day of submission (if you apply in person) or the day you provide finger prints at the embassy. I applied in person and got mine exactly after 3 weeks. Finland is very efficient in this business. So, don’t worry too much about it. Just make sure everything is done properly in your application. Double check it, triple check it or check it as many times as necessary to make sure there are no mistakes on the application. Many student have done it, you can do it too!
Alright, good luck to you all and I wish you a smooth residence permit application process!
The most beautiful Autumn in the world is waiting for you in Jyväskylä in August, see you all very soon!!!
|Yes, this photo was taken in Jyväskylä, during autumn 2014!|