Please keep checking the Finnish Border Guard website for the latest information on traveling to Finland including COVID-related entry requirements.
If you do not already have a valid U.S. passport, obtain one from the nearest U.S. passport office or its local agent.
The U.S. State Department’s position is that dual U.S. citizens who take part in the Fulbright Program travel on their U.S. passports, even if it entails extra time and expenses.
However, the Finnish Immigration Service (the authority making Finnish residence permits decisions) advises the following:
- Dual Finnish-U.S. citizens can stay in Finland without a Finnish residence permit. They cannot apply for a Finnish residence permit.
- Grantees with U.S. and other EU country citizenship should follow the EU citizen registration process when coming to Finland instead of applying for a Finnish residence permit. Please see detailed EU citizen registration instructions at the Finnish Immigration Service website.
Residence Permit Application
You must make an in-person visit for identification and for submitting biometric identifiers at one of the VFS Global Centers (or Consulate) before you are issued a residence permit to Finland. These Centers are located in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, (and Vancouver). Please check the VFS Global Center website for the appointment availability.
Most Fulbright grantees and their accompanying family members need a residence permit for their stay in Finland. As a general rule, if your stay exceeds 90 days, you must receive a residence permit before entering Finland. Grantees are personally responsible for obtaining a passport and the residence permit required. Please read the "Process in Short" below for further information on the residence permit application process.
If you plan to stay in Finland for less than 90 days, please see the section below "If your stay is less than 90 days" for further instructions.
You will also have an opportunity to stay in Finland (and the Schengen area comprised of 26 European countries) as a tourist before the start date of your residence permit and after the end date of your residence permit for a maximum of 90 days in total. Many Fulbrighters have arrived early or stayed after their grant period to enjoy the beautiful Finnish summer, or to travel in Finland and around Europe. Please remember that your ASPE benefit is valid only during your official grant term dates.
If you would like to stay in Finland before or after your grant term for purposes other than tourism, please contact the Foundation for more information.
Process in Short
- The Finnish Immigration Service Migri makes the decision on your residence permit application.
- Begin the residence permit process at least 5 months before your planned arrival to Finland (as advised by Migri in June 2021). Please note that collecting all the documents required for the permit application may take several months. The earlier you start, the more time you will be giving yourself to get all of your necessary paperwork and documentation in order. Migri does not advise, however, to submit the permit application more than six months before your arrival to Finland.
- Begin your residence permit application process by first reading the instructions on this Guide so that you learn which one of the different residence permits you need to apply for. Also, go over the instructions on Migri's webpage.
- Fill in an electronic residence permit application at Migri’s online service Enter Finland and pay the processing fee online. You can track the progress of your application in your personal user account. Please note that even though Migri uses the term "embassy" in the Enter Finland portal, U.S. citizens cannot apply for residence permits through the Finnish Embassy in the U.S. You can apply for residence permits through the VFS Global Application Centers (or Finnish Consulates). Please see details below.
- Make an appointment with VFS Global. As part of the residence permit application, you are required to make an in-person visit to one of the Application Centers in the U.S. maintained by VFS Global. The Finnish Consulate urges grantees to primarily make an appointment with the VFS Global Center rather than with the Finnish Consulate due to the small number of appointments at the Consulates (e.g. the Consulate in NY has only one appointment available per week, as of January 2022). However, please note that if you are required to use the OLE_MUU residence permit application, your only option is to visit the Consulate in New York or Los Angeles (as of January 2022) and you cannot visit any of the VFS Global Application Centers. OLE_MUU applicants need to email the Consulate for making an appointment (NY: [email protected], LA - [email protected]). If getting an appointment with VFS Global is very difficult, please contact NY Consulate for further advice ([email protected]), and please copy your Foundation program coordinator in the message.
- The VFS Global Application Centers are located in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Washington State residents can also alternatively visit the Center located in Vancouver (Canada).
- You can decide which Application Center (or Consulate/OLE_MUU applicants) you prefer to visit.
- Your biometric identifiers (fingerprints, signature, photograph) will be collected during your visit to the Center or Consulate, and your original application documents will be checked. The collection of biometric data is an EU-wide regulation where the EU is following the lead of the U.S., which for some time has collected fingerprints from all visa applicants.
- After you have submitted your application online and visited one of the Visa Application Centers or Consulates (OLE_MUU applicants) to prove your identity, Migri will begin to process your application for decision making. In other words, the processing of your residence permit application cannot be started until you have submitted all the required paperwork and visited the Application Center/Consulate.
- You will be notified once a decision has been made (usually by email).
- At the end of the process, the residence permit is issued to you in a form of a separate residence permit card which will be mailed to you to your address in the U.S. by the Visa Application Center/Consulate.
- Application Center Helpline - VFS Global
Call Center: +1 212-203-0023 (Mon-Fri from 8:00 to 18.00 CST)
Email: [email protected]
FAQ's: Please see here
Make sure to check the pages of the Finnish Immigration Service Migri and VFS Global prior to applying for the residence permit, since there might be changes after the writing of this Guide.
Detailed Program-Specific Residence Permit Instructions
What Permit Should I Apply for?
Listed below you can find program-specific instructions on applying for a residence permit. Please make sure that you follow the instructions meant for your grant category.
- Scholars (All Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program participants except the Mid-Career Professional Development Program participants)
- Professionals (Mid-Career Professional Development and Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program participants)
- Students (All Fulbright U.S. Student Program awardees, start from this site)
If your stay is less than 90 days
According to the Finnish immigration regulations, you do not need a residence permit if you are coming to Finland for a period shorter than 90 days to work as a researcher on the basis of an invitation or a contract. This regulation concerns Fulbright scholars, specialists, and teachers. According to the grantee feedback, the residence permit may however at times come in handy when handling practicalities in Finland.
In retrospect, I should have applied for a residence permit, even though my stay was less than 90 days because the residence permit is necessary for receiving a Finnish ID number. Having the ID number is extremely helpful for: opening a bank account with full services, registering for child care, and receiving discounts on bus passes, among other things.
- U.S. Scholar 2015-2016
It is also possible to apply for a residence permit for stays under 90 days, but please note that there are some practicalities to consider, such as the cost of the permit, and the costs of traveling to one of the Application Centers in the U.S. If your stay in Finland is less than 90 days and you are considering obtaining a residence permit, please contact the Fulbright Finland Foundation before starting the application process.
Fulbright Specialists: generally spend 14-42 days in Finland. For visits shorter than 90 days no residence permit is required. A Specialist may extend their stay in Finland beyond the Specialist program dates for professional or personal reasons, such as for continued cooperation with the department or for tourist travel. The Specialist is required to notify the Fulbright Finland Foundation of any such plans. In such cases, if the stay in Finland or other Schengen countries exceeds 90 days, please refer to instructions for Fulbright scholars (above). The CIES Specialist grant will not cover any extensions to the program. The Specialist and/or the Finnish host department are/is responsible for any additional costs.
New Century Scholar Grantees: The NCS grant includes an international research visit component. If the NCS scholar’s stay in Finland and other Schengen countries does not exceed 90 days, no visa or residence permit is required. If the stay exceeds 90 days, please refer to instructions for Fulbright scholars (above).
New regulation for 2022 for those arriving without a residence permit
New European Travel Information and Authorization System ETIAS requires U.S. citizens traveling to Finland (and other European countries in the Schengen Zone) without a residence permit, to apply for the ETIAS authorization before departing the U.S. This is done by submitting an application online after which the application is processed and the applicant sent an ETIAS authorization to their email. The ETIAS system is expected to be in place by 2022, but it won’t be mandatory until 2023. Please see further information at https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/etias/ and https://www.etiasvisa.com/etias-requirements/americans
Residence Permit Allowance
The grantees and their accompanying family members are provided a residence permit allowance by the Fulbright Finland Foundation. Grantees will receive further instructions on the payment of the allowance from their program coordinator. Teacher grantees must consult IREX on grant benefits.