Government proposal to amend the Aliens Act for speedier work-based residence permits now out for comments
The Government wants to speed up the residence permit processes by reforming Chapter 5 of the Aliens Act. It therefore proposes to shorten the processing time for work-based residence permits to an average of 30 days by the end of the government term. The reform would also increase the use of automation and enable the certification of employers to make the application process easier.
The Government aims to increase work-based and education-based immigration. That is why the Government proposes amendments to Chapter 5 of the Aliens Act and certain other provisions and acts. The draft government proposal on these amendments will now be sent out for comments. The aim of the amendments is to speed up work-based residence permit processes so that, by the end of the government term, the average processing time for applications is 30 days.
As per the draft proposal, the Act would lay down provisions on the general requirements for issuing all work-based residence permits. At the same time, the Act would lay down provisions on the obligations of employers and employees in the residence permit process.
Over 80% of permit decisions based on work and education are positive
Reviews show that more than 80 percent of residence permit applications based on work and education are positive. The new provisions would enable wider utilisation of automation in part of the process. The permit authorities would also use information obtained from other official registers, which would eliminate the need to ask the applicant or employer for the information.
The Act would advise applicants to submit their applications primarily through electronic means, in which case the employer would also have to use electronic services. However, paper applications would still be accepted.
It is also proposed that the Act include provisions on the employer’s certification, which would lay down rules on the requirements, granting, effects and withdrawal of certification. This certification would also contribute to speeding up the permit process.
New types of permits to be added to the Act
The provisions on residence permits for entrepreneurs and high-growth startup entrepreneurs would be clarified, and those who have completed a degree or research work in Finland would receive a new type of permit. A residence permit for a specialist would also be added to the Act as a separate permit and it would include more detailed provisions on the determination of pay.
The reform would also make it possible to organise oral hearings of the applicants through a remote connection instead of in-person hearings in the Finnish missions. If necessary, hearings could be held in the premises of an external service provider if the premises, arrangements, connections and safety have been secured.
Under the current legislation, travel documents must be valid for the entire period for which the residence permit is issued. It is now proposed that it would be sufficient for the travel document to be valid when the first residence permit is issued.
Labour exploitation to be prevented by improving supervision
At the same time as Finland promotes work-based immigration, it also wants to combat the exploitation of foreign labour. For this reason, it is proposed that the regulation on the supervision of the use of foreign labour be specified.
The possibility to suspend the granting of residence permits to a certain employer for a fixed period of time would be extended to cover not only residence permits for employed persons but all work-based residence permits. In addition to the TE Office, the Finnish Immigration Service could make such suspension decisions in future too.
Proposed amendments now out for comments
The proposed legislative amendments will be circulated for comments from 24 January to 7 March 2022. Comments can be submitted through the lausuntopalvelu.fi service. Parties outside the distribution list may also submit comments.
The Government’s proposal is expected to proceed to Parliament in early May and the amended Act is due to come into effect at the beginning of October.
Jarmo Tiukkanen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 29 504 7355
Kristel Stenman-Huuskonen, Project Manager, tel. +358 29 504 7350