Known as the land of a thousand lakes, the midnight sun and the Northern Lights, Finland is famous for its natural beauty. As a world leader in technology, Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world and a strongly developed democracy and economy. Experience rich cultural activities, such as the traditional sauna, as well as the efficient yet stunning architecture of Finland's clean, modern cities. Join in the abundance of unusual winter sports and festivals and experience the essence of Finland.



Languages Spoken:

Finnish, Swedish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

All Finns learn at least two foreign languages in school, and all university students are required to pass an English proficiency exam. Although many Finns love to practice their English, you must be adamant to learn Finnish. Then you will be more respected and better liked by Finns.

- Carina Wilmot,
ISEP participant from
the University of Wyoming
to the University of Jyväskylä

The Finnish higher education system has two parallel sectors: universities and polytechnics. Universities are characterized by scientific research. Polytechnics are oriented towards working life and base their operations on high vocational skill requirements. Universities select their own students independently. Competition for student places in higher education is fierce and an annual intake quota applies to all fields of study at universities. Various types of entrance examinations form a central part of the selection process. There is no tuition payment, and students are eligible for government-subsidized study loans and some grants. Students have a relatively free hand in determining their course of study and may retake examinations twice if they do not succeed the first time.

University degrees in Finland correspond closely to the U.S. bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees. Universities provide lower (bachelor's) and higher (master's) academic degrees and scientific postgraduate degrees, which are the licentiate (Lisensiaatti/Licentiat) and the doctorate (Tohtori/Doktor). A bachelor's degree (Kandidaatti/Kandidat) can usually be completed in three years and a master's degree (Maisteri/Magister) in five years (including the Bachelor syllabus). Due to the high level of academic freedom in Finnish universities, the average duration for completing a master's degree is about six and a half years. Most Finnish students study through to the Maisteri/Magister level.

University studies in Finland can be grouped into basic (perusopinnot/grundstudier), intermediate (aineopinnot/ ämnesstudier) and advanced (syventävät opinnot/ fördjupade studier) studies. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat degree usually includes basic and intermediate studies and a bachelor's thesis, with advanced studies and a master's thesis necessary to complete the Maisteri/Magister degree.

Studies are measured in credits, or "study weeks" (opintoviikko/ studievecka), with one credit equivalent to 40 hours of work, including class contact, and individual study and preparation time. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat usually requires 120 credits, and the Maisteri/Magister requires an additional 40, or 160 in total. Beyond the Maisteri/Magister, the Lisensiaatti/Licentiat and Tohtori/Doktor degrees are essentially research degrees. Coursework in the subject field is required for both, but research and the preparation of a substantial thesis are key elements of these advanced degrees.

Individual courses may involve a variety of different types of work: lectures, exercises, essays or other independent work, book examinations, seminars, etc. Students can receive required course readings in English in addition to Finnish and Swedish. All universities offer Finnish and/or Swedish language courses for international students.

All completed lectures and passed exams are entered in a student's study register (opintorekisteri/ studieregister) in an electronic form. Grading is done on a scale of satisfactory, good or excellent, or respectively from one to three. Alternatively, particularly in technical universities, a scale of one to five is sometimes used.

The academic year runs from August to July. The university calendar starts in late August or early September with the first term completed in mid-December. The second term begins in January and ends in May. Generally there are two 14-16 week terms, with the only in-term vacation period being one week at Easter.

Visa and Residency

RESIDENCE PERMIT

Foreign nationals need to have a residence permit to stay in Finland for 90 days or longer. This does not apply to nationals of the other Nordic countries and EU/EEA nationals. You can submit your application electronically. Since the application forms and appendices do not need to be sent by post, e-services makes the application process faster.

Please visit the Finnish Immigration Service's webpage for information on studying in Finland. On their pages you can find the following:

  • A link to the electronic Application form for Residence Permit
  • FAQ
  • Information about the income requirement
  • Information on average processing times at the Finnish Immigration Service

On the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage you can find contact details for the Finnish Diplomatic Missions.

 

APPLYING FOR A RESIDENCE PERMIT

Important Notes:

 ALWAYS USE THE MIGRATION WEBSITES FIRST. The information located in this guide may not be as up to date as the official Immigration Service and Enter Finland websites. 

 You may apply online (e-service) or using a paper application. If you have submitted your application via e-service, you need to visit a Finnish embassy to verify your identity and to present the original copies of any supplements needed for the application. 

 You must legally reside in the country where you initiate your residence permit application process. If there is no Finnish embassy in your country of residence and you must travel to another country to submit your residence permit application, you must find out whether you need a visa to enter this country. 

 For first-time applicants:

- If you submit your application abroad, you cannot come to Finland while your application is being processed to wait for a decision and get your residence permit card here.

- If you arrive in Finland while your application is being processed and you wish to wait for a decision here, you need to cancel the application that you submitted outside Finland and submit a new residence permit application in Finland. We will charge you a new processing fee if you submit a new application.

• All documents must be in Finnish, Swedish or English, or legally translated to one of those languages 

• US citizens may use the VFS Global Service to schedule biometrics

• Finland is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

• You should be receiving an acceptance letter from your host institution in Finland

 

HOW TO APPLY

Step One

• Apply for a residence permit using Enter Finland. Please have the following documents ready:

- a valid passport

- a certificate of acceptance from a Finnish educational institution

- a clarification on income (for ISEP Exchange students, proof of at least EUR 195 per month of your program, or EUR 1170)

- a clarification on tuition fee or scholarship, if applicable

- a certificate of health insurance (for ISEP students, this must be from International Student Insurance or a provider with a similar policy. Please see ISEP’s Insurance Enrollment Requirements page)

• When you submit your application using Enter Finland, you have to continue using Enter Finland throughout the application process.

• Create a user account with your e-mail address on Enter Finland. The account is for personal use only. Keep your e-mail address and password safe so you can log into the service later.

 

Step Two

• Fill in your residence permit application on Enter Finland.

• Choose the correct application form based on the reason you are going to Finland (for example, work, studies or a family member who resides in Finland). If you are not sure of which application form you should use, please visit the Finnish Immigration Service.

• Enter Finland will guide you through the process of filling in your application. You do not need to save your application manually. The e-service will save it automatically as you fill it in.

 

Step Three

• Prepare and send your supporting documents.

• Official certificates, such as birth and marriage certificates, must be legalized if they are not issued by Nordic authorities. If the documents are not in Finnish, Swedish or English, they must be accompanied by a translation into one of these languages by an authorized translator. Both the original documents and their translations must be legalized.

• Send your supplementary documents via Enter Finland. The documents that you attach to your online application must be in an electronic format. Make sure you attach all the required documents. This will reduce the risk of your application being incomplete or extending the processing time.

 

Step Four

• Pay the processing fee with a credit card or the online bank credentials of a Finnish bank in Enter Finland, print the Certificate of a pending online case and take it with you to the appointment to the Application center.

• In case you cannot make a payment in Enter Finland, print the Certificate of a pending online case and take it with you to the appointment in Application center.

 

Step Five

• Book an appointment to visit Visa Application Centre or Consulate General of Finland for submitting your biometric data.

US citizens may use the VFS Global Service to schedule biometrics

- Take your passport and passport photo with you to the embassy or consulate. Make sure that your passport is valid for your entire stay in Finland or longer.. Passport photo guidelines can be found on the website of the Finnish Police.

- At the embassy, you will be fingerprinted for a biometric residence permit card.

 

Step Six

• Wait to hear about your application decision. It takes one month on average to process the application. You can follow the processing of your application in the e-service. 

 

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

General Requirements

Before you may be granted a residence permit, you must also meet the general requirements for entry into Finland. These requirements include the following:

• You may not have been refused entry into Finland

• You may not be a danger to public order and safety, national health or Finland’s international relations

 

How do I prove my means of support?

Since your housing and meal expenses will be covered by your ISEP benefits, you will need to demonstrate proof of funds in the amount of 195 euros per month for the duration of your stay. 

  • Attach a bank account statement to the application form showing that you have the minimum amount of euros (or equivalent) mentioned above in your bank account. You must have the necessary funds in your own bank account. Sponsorship agreements provided by relatives, friends or employers are not acceptable.
  • In addition, attach written evidence of the benefits provided by your educational institution to the application form. If you have been granted a stipend or scholarship by the government, an association or an educational institution for the purpose of your studies, attach the scholarship decision to the application form. An account statement will not be necessary if the scholarship is sufficient to support your stay in Finland.
  • Present the originals of all documents when submitting your application form.
  • If the attachments are not in Finnish, Swedish or English, have an official translator translate them, and attach the translations to your application.

 

Health Insurance

Students Going to Finland for semester or full year programs should purchase a health insurance policy from International Student Insurance. Finnish consulates will request that the health insurance plan you purchase has a Policy Maximum of at least €100,000 and a Deductible of €0. International Student Insurance offers plans with varying deductibles and policy maximums that meet these requirements in their International Travel Medical Insurance option. Within this option, students can choose to have a €0 deductible and to have a policy maximum of €100,000 or greater. NOTE: Please be sure to check the current EUR/USD exchange rate to ensure your plan meets the policy maximum requirements. Students are also required to purchase ISEP (MER) medical evacuation and repatriation insurance as a condition of placement at a rate of approx. $8 per month. Please see ISEP’s Insurance Enrollment Requirements page for more information.

*This does not include summer students who are still required to purchase ISEP Student Health Insurance as part of their Program Fee.

 

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Updated October 2018

Culture

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Daily Life

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

 

Detailed information about Finland can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and SecurityLocal Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

 

Currency


MONEY MATTERS


Currency
The currency of Finland is the Euro, the common currency of the European Union. Most member states of the European Union use the Euro.

The following major banks have numerous branches across the country: Nordea, Sampo and Osuuspankki. ATMs are widely available in most parts of the country. ATM cards with links to major networks (e.g. Visa, MasterCard) will work in Finland. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are also widely used in Finland.


Compare your currency to the Euro.

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