Frequently asked questions about applying for a residence permit based on employment

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about asylum seekers’ right to work and applying for a residence permit for an employed person. Please note that the Ministry of the Interior does not grant permits or process applications. For more information about asylum seekers’ right to work and a residence permit based on employment, go to the website of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Questions and answers

  • How soon can an asylum seeker start working in Finland?

    Asylum seekers can start working in Finland three months after their arrival in the country, provided that they hold a valid travel document, and six months after their arrival in the country, if they have no travel documents.

    A three-month time period is considered necessary for asylum seekers to learn about Finnish society and the rights of workers, for example.

    The requirement for holding a valid travel document prevents asylum seekers from losing, or even destroying, their travel documents and makes it easier to establish their identities in a reliable manner. The asylum procedure is not meant to be used for the purposes of labour migration; if asylum seekers were granted the right to work immediately, this could enable them to circumvent the residence permit system for employed persons. In addition, the employment terms and conditions of those working without a residence permit for an employed person are not reviewed beforehand; such asylum seekers may, in the worst case, be subjected to exploitation. Other EU countries also have similar procedures in place — a waiting period of approximately 6–12 months or a separate permit procedure for asylum seekers wishing to work.

    Read more on the Finnish Immigration Service's website.

  • What should asylum seekers do if they find work and decide to apply for a residence permit on the basis of employment instead of seeking asylum?

    In addition to seeking asylum, asylum seekers may apply for a separate residence permit that is based on employment and subject to a fee. If the residence permit application is submitted while the asylum application is still being processed, it will be processed together with the asylum application. As a rule, the decisions on both applications will be issued at the same time. If the application is made after the person has been refused asylum, it will be processed in the same way as other applications for work permits. The fact that the applicant is an asylum seeker makes no difference in this case.

    Under the Aliens Act, an application for a residence permit based on employment is processed in two steps: The relevant Employment and Economic Development Office first makes a partial decision on the application before the Finnish Immigration Service processes the application and makes its decision.

    The Employment and Economic Development Office considers whether any labour suitable for the job vacancy is available in the labour market area (the EU/EEA) within a reasonable time. This is referred to as determining the availability of labour (labour market test).

    The Employment and Economic Development Office also assesses whether the terms and conditions of employment are as required and makes sure that the employee has the necessary qualifications for the work, such as the necessary training or education and permits. The Employment and Economic Development Office must also make sure that the employee’s financial resources are sufficient with income obtained through gainful employment in Finland.

    A residence permit cannot be granted solely on the basis of a favourable partial decision made by the Employment and Economic Development Office. The asylum seeker must also meet the other requirements laid down for a residence permit, such as holding a valid travel document. The Finnish Immigration Service considers whether these requirements are met. Under the Aliens Act, a residence permit may be refused if, for example, the person is considered a danger to public order, security or health or to Finland’s international relations. The Finnish Immigration Service considers whether the permit should be refused or not.

    Before applying for a residence permit on the basis of employment, the asylum seeker must have a job waiting. The employer must confirm that he or she will definitely employ the asylum seeker. This is usually done by signing an employment contract, which the employer will then attach to the permit application. The employer must also attach the terms and conditions of employment to the permit application.

    A foreign national’s employment relationship is governed by Finnish employment legislation and the Finnish collective agreements generally applicable to work in the field. The terms and conditions of employment of foreign workers must correspond to those applied to Finnish workers in the same field in all respects, including salary. The relevant Employment and Economic Development Office assesses whether the employer has realistic expectations and the will to fulfil his or her employer obligations. Public authorities also supervise that the rules of working life are observed in workplaces.

  • If the labour market test was abolished, how would this affect the processing of asylum seekers’ applications for residence permits based on employment?

    Asylum seeker status in itself does not affect the processing of the application. The application for a residence permit for an employed person would be processed in the same way as all other applications and without the labour market test, if the test was abolished.

    Asylum seekers are often refused a residence permit based on employment because they do not hold a valid travel document. This is especially the case for asylum seekers originating from countries with the largest numbers of applicants. Under the Aliens Act, asylum seekers must have a valid travel document before a residence permit for an employed person, or as a rule any other residence permit, can be granted.

  • Can asylum seekers whose application has been rejected apply for a residence permit based on employment and stay and work in Finland if they find work in the country? Do they need to apply for a work permit in their home countries or at the nearest Finnish mission?

    An application can also be filed in Finland so asylum seekers do not need to leave Finland for that reason.

    Those whose application for asylum has been rejected can be removed from the country if their removal decision becomes enforceable, even if their application for a residence permit based on employment is still being processed.

    A removal decision cannot usually be enforced until it has become final, or when it is no longer possible to appeal against the decision. The Aliens Act lays down provisions on when and what decisions can be enforced before they become final. Even in such cases a court may prohibit the enforcement of the decision. The prohibition of enforcement does not automatically mean that a residence permit will be granted.

    If the asylum seeker has filed a separate application for a residence permit based on employment, this will, however, be taken into account when removal from the country is being considered. The police will establish the likelihood of a residence permit being granted to the asylum seeker. If, for example, the partial decision made by the Employment and Economic Development Office is not favourable, the actual decision on the residence permit application is, almost without exception, rejected.

    Under the Aliens Act, foreign nationals may reside legally in Finland while their application is being processed until there is a final decision on the matter or an enforceable decision on their removal from the country. Asylum seekers can be removed from Finland if their application was rejected during the asylum process and then a decision was made to remove them from the country, provided that the removal decision has become enforceable.

    Asylum seekers have the right to work in Finland until they receive a final decision on their application. If an asylum seeker files a separate application for a residence permit based on employment and he or she is no longer allowed to work in Finland as an asylum seeker, he or she cannot work while waiting for a decision on his or her separate application.