Work permit or residence permit?

Work permit as a concept is used in many countries, but in Finland the right to work for people coming from outside the EU is based on the residence permit. EU citizens have the right to work in Finland without a separate permit application. Work permit is an outdated term, that is no longer covered under the Finnish Immigration Act. A visa on the other hand is only a right to enter the country, and individuals arriving in Finland with a visa do not generally have a right to work. The exception makes the rule here as well though, as a person arriving in Finland with either a visa or from a visa free country is allowed to take part in business negotiations and training, as well as certain tasks.

“Even work-based residence permits come in several varieties”

A person arriving in Finland is personally responsible for applying for documents that allow him or her to arrive and reside in Finland, and the continued validity of these documents. An employer can’t apply for an employee’s residence permit or visa, but they can support an incoming employee by for example providing them professional assistance to take care of this. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that foreign talent they employ has a right to work in Finland and thus also in the company’s best interest that immigration matters are managed properly from the start. Although the application process for a Finnish permit is simpler than some other countries’ where the residence and work permits are separate, it is significantly easier to identify the correct permit type and prepare the necessary documentation with the help of a professional.

“Some applications are managed and passed in a few weeks, whereas others require multiple months”

Hiring a foreigner is approximately as simple as hiring a native Finn – as long as one knows what to report and to which authority, what permits are needed, and how, when and where they need to be applied for. A residence permit to Finland can be applied for on multiple grounds, and even work-based residence permits come in several varieties. The applicable permit is determined by multiple factors, for example the central terms of employment and the applicant’s educational background. Even a person who hasn’t applied for a residence permit based on employment may have a right to employment. A company’s HR-department may not always have the latest up to date information on the acts and directives on immigration, so it is good to seek a professional’s advice.

The required attachments and application processes for different permits differ from one another. Some applications are managed and passed in a few weeks, whereas others require multiple months. Finland does not have a possibility for paid expediting of the application process. The processing time is significantly shorter however, when all the necessary documents are attached to a properly filled and correct application.

It is also vitally important for an employer to know all of their responsibilities when hiring foreign talent. The Regional State Administrative Agency monitors foreign talent’s right to work in Finland and that terms of employment match those of Finns working in similar positions. In addition, employers have the legal responsibility to inform the authorities of hiring foreign talent. Sometimes it is appropriate to outsource documenting, maintaining, and tracking of certain information, as well as fulfilling the responsibility of notification. Contact us when you want to hear more!

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