Residence permits for the employee’s family

Sometimes a foreign expert moves to Finland with their family or spouse. Residence permit issues of an employee’s family raise a lot of questions, as the policies vary from country to country.

The employee’s spouse’s immigration to Finland

If the couple moving to Finland is married, the permit matters are often simpler than in the case of cohabitation. However, marriage must also be certified and a certificate issued by a non-EU country must be legalized. Living in different countries can complicate the process, as legalization must be done in the country where the marriage took place. Our immigration team often encounters cases where the marriage was contracted in a different country than where the family currently lives, and the marriage certificate has not been legalized as required by the Finnish immigration authorities, but according to the criteria of the current country of residence. Previous marriage and divorce can complicate the process as well. In such cases, legalization issues are surprisingly complex, so the help of an immigration expert is needed.

The employee’s cohabiting spouse can move to Finland with the employee if the cohabitation has lasted at least two years or the couple has a child together. In principle, it’s enough to prove that the couple lives together, but in some cases, other documents have to be presented as well. If it’s not possible to prove the cohabitation, a residence permit can be applied for (under certain conditions) based on a relationship, which requires more effort in the application process.

In Finland, however, cohabitation is relatively easily accepted compared to some other countries. In some countries, cohabitation is not recognized at all, while in others the requirements are much stricter, for example in terms of the duration of the cohabitation. In some countries, cohabitation must also be registered, which is not possible in Finland. In Finland, same-sex marriages and cohabitation or registered partnerships are also accepted as a basis for a residence permit, but in some countries this is not possible.

Residence permits for the employee’s family members

Generally, residence permit matters for an employee’s children are relatively easy, but obtaining and possibly legalizing the certificates can complicate them, if the child was born outside their current country of residence. Adoption must also be legalized, and custody must also be considered for the adopted child. Custody situations after the divorce may also require additional clarifications, especially if both guardians do not move to Finland with the child.

The official definition of a family in Finland is quite narrow, as only a spouse and children are considered as a family here. In many countries, the perception of the family is broader, which can cause confusion when moving to Finland. It is often asked whether the employee’s parents can also get a residence permit, and sometimes people also ask about their godchildren, for example. In such cases, it is often decided to apply for a visa instead of a residence permit.

Do you need help with immigration the issues of your employees or their families? Contact us!


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