Employment-based immigration a key factor for population growth

New visa categories, and visa extensions for international students help Finland to increase its working population in the face of declining birth rates.

File picture of Migri logo on glass door / Credit: Migri Twitter

Employment-based immigration helps Finland to boost its population, as birth rates hit a record low.

That’s the conclusion of a new report prepared by the Ministry of Interior for the OECD, and released on Thursday.

The report shows that resident permits based on jobs have seen significant growth, and during 2018 almost 11,000 such applications were submitted – 2000 more than the previous year.

A clear majority of applications, 53%, were for manual labour jobs. The second highest number of applications came for people with jobs in specialist fields, at 14%.

The Government is working on a new strategy to attract international talent to Finland.

The plan is to make the resident permit process as smooth as possible – there have been widespread complaints that at present it is inefficient, places too much burden on employers and applicants to provide excessive documents, and takes too long to process with seemingly-arbitrary negative decisions.

The aim is to decrease waiting time for applications to just one month, a target that is not currently being met in most cases at 52 days on average this year.

File picture of students at Aalto University, spring 2019 / Credit: Aalto

Positive development in new visa categories 

Part of the government’s new strategy is to help international students stay in Finland and find jobs after they graduate, by extending their residence permit by two more years.

There have also been complaints that it’s a waste of educational resources for international students to spend several years getting an advanced degree in Finland, and then not having the chance to stay on after graduation and get a job.

In spring 2018, the residence permit process for specialists was streamlined so that the first residence permit could be granted for multiple years at the time instead of one year.

And a residence permit for start-ups directed at growth entrepreneurs was introduced, which has been of a particular interest to technology sector specialists.

According to Statistics Finland’s latest population projection from September, if the birth rate remains at the current level there will be no regions in Finland where births exceed death in 15 years – and the population is expected to start decreasing as early as 2031.