Finland planning visa for foreign job applicants
Holder would have six months to find work
Finland is planning to institute a new kind of visa for foreign job-seekers. Under the proposal, the holder of such a visa would have six months to find work in Finland. If a job is found, the holder could start work immediately, and would not have to return to the country of origin to apply for a residence permit.
Under current legislation Finland grants visas to foreigners from outside the European Union and European Economic Area only for three months. With certain exceptions, a separate residence permit is required, which has to be applied for in the applicant's own country before arriving in Finland.
The proposed job-seeker's visa is being put forward as a part of a major reform in the residence permit system.
The working group is being led by Interior Ministry official Tuomo Kurri. The working group is to submit a proposal to Minister for Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors (Swed. People's Party) in mid-September, after which they will be evaluated by various interested parties, including Finnish labour market organisations.
The job-seeker's visa programme would probably start on a trial basis, involving citizens of a handful of countries.
"Countries might include Ukraine, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt, for instance. Initially, a total of 1,000 visas might be issued", says Timo Täyrynen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Täyrynen says that the trial period would allow officials to fine-tune details of the programme. During the trial period it would be possible to collect data on how visa holders adapt to Finnish society.
Another purpose of the trial period would be to make sure that the job application visa system does not turn into a short-cut into other countries in the Schengen zone.
After the trial period, the programme could be expanded to other countries, and possibly even the whole world. The number of visas issued would also be increased "possibly to five thousand a year", Täyrynen ponders.
Kurri says that applicants might be expected to have a "certain amount of education". Decisions on this, and other details will come next year.
The aim of the job application visa and other changes in residence permit procedure is to mitigate the effects of the ageing of the population, and the looming labour shortage as more Finns of working age reach retirement age.
Täyrynen also sees the move as a way to reduce the danger of more illegal immigration.
He says that the idea is "not to just build walls, but to offer a new, legal channel to seek work in Finland". Täyrynen notes that illegal immigration to Finland and the Schengen zone is often dangerous, and almost always expensive, with many paying off their travel costs by working in conditions resembling slavery.