If you are a Nordic or EU/EEA citizen, you do not need a visa or a residence permit to Finland. However, you are required to register your residence with Migri if your stay in Finland exceeds 90 days (6 months for Nordic citizens). Additionally, if your stay in Finland lasts for more than a year, you should register in the Finnish population system.
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you will usually need a visa or a student residence permit. Which one you should apply for, depends on the length of your stay in Finland.
- Short stay visa - for a maximum of 90 days’ visits. For example, you may need this visa if you are invited to take an entrance exam in Finland, or if you take part in a course or exchange that lasts less than 90 days.
- Residence permit for studies - a long-term temporary residence permit that is usually granted for one year at a time. If you come to Finland for a student exchange period exceeding three months, or if you have been admitted to a full degree program, you need to apply for this one.
You can start your student residence permit application online at Enterfinland.fi, but in the process, it is also necessary for you to personally visit a Finnish embassy or consulate. A Finnish student residence permit application cannot be processed until the applicant visits the embassy, regardless of whether the application has been submitted electronically or at the embassy itself.
In order to apply for Finland student visa or residence permit, you must provide a number of documents, among others the official letter of acceptance issued by your hosting Finnish university, proof of your financial ability to support yourself financially during your entire period of study in Finland and for your return transportation, and proof of health insurance. Your passport must have a validity that exceeds the duration of the visa or residence permit you are applying for by at least 3 months.
The processing times of a Finnish student visa vary, you can check them here: http://migri.fi/en/processing-times
A student residence permit is usually granted for one year at a time. After your first year in Finland (in good time before your previous permit expires) you should apply for an extension of your student residence permit from Migri. You can use the Enter Finland e-service for this purpose. It’s also worth noting that when you apply for an extended permit when your initial permit is about to expire, you must be in Finland when submitting your application.