Finnish government makes first hesitant Brexit promises to Brits

The latest information from the Ministry of Interior leaves many more questions than answers.

File picture showing UK, EU and Finnish flags / Credit: iStock

The Finnish government has finally revealed – partially – what will happen to some 5000 British nationals living here, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

This morning, the Interior Ministry announced that “Finland’s goal is to have a fast and flexible authorisation process” for British nationals to apply to stay in the country, if there’s a no-deal divorce between the UK and EU.

The Immigration Service Migri says that in the first instance, Brits should make sure they register their right of residence in Finland, or apply for a certificate of the right of permanent residence as an EU citizen if they’ve been here more than five years.

At this point, because there is still a lot of confusion about Brexit, Migri says nobody should start applying or paying for any residency permission as a so-called third country national, yet.

Announcements are short on detail

This morning’s announcements brought few new concrete details, and much remains unresolved.

“We are planning to give more information at the beginning of February about these matters” says Jarmo Tiukkanen, a Senior Expert at the Ministry of Interior.

Some things are already becoming clear however, according to Tiukkanen.

There is likely to be a chance to apply for a new residence permit before the 29th March, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but you won’t be illegal the minute Brexit happens.

“We have an immigration law that says if you apply for a permit, then your stay is legal, and I think the situation is the same. And UK citizens will still be EU citizens until the final withdrawal date” explains Tiukkanen.

There will be a cost to apply for the new residency status as ‘third country nationals’ and there could also be some burden of proof on applicants to prove they earn a certain amount of money, in order to stay.

Anyone who already has a permanent registration – who has lived in Finland longer than five years – is probably going to find it “easy to change to a new residency permit” Tiukkanen tells News Now Finland.

Something still up in the air, whether anyone who is already here legally could face having a new residency application rejected and be forced to leave Finland – on any number of grounds or technicalities.

“There are so many possibilities still I don’t know which ones we are following” concedes Tiukkanen.