• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Finland tightens citizenship rules, 8-year residency now required from Oct. 1

Finland tightens citizenship rules, 8-year residency now required from Oct. 1

Finland introduced stricter citizenship rules starting in October 2024, extending the period of residence required for Finnish citizenship from five to eight years.

In a move aimed at tightening the criteria for acquiring Finnish citizenship, the Parliament of Finland has approved a significant amendment to the Citizenship Act.

Starting October 1, 2024, foreign nationals seeking Finnish citizenship will face stricter requirements, including an extended period of residence and more stringent conditions for counting residency periods.

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One of the most notable changes is extending the required residence period for Finnish citizenship from five to eight years.

This amendment allows Finnish authorities to evaluate applicants over a longer timeframe, ensuring they meet the necessary criteria for integration and suitability.

Finnish government said, “Once the amendment is in force, it will no longer be possible to derogate from the requirement on grounds of international protection”.

The government emphasised that this extended period would provide a more comprehensive assessment of an individual’s commitment to Finland.

Under the new rules, only periods of residence with a valid residence permit will be considered when determining an applicant’s period of residence.

This change has significant implications for asylum seekers and other immigrants. Previously, the time spent awaiting an asylum decision counted towards the residency requirement.

However, from October 2024, only the period after receiving a residence permit will be eligible.

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This adjustment aims to ensure that applicants have a stable and legal status in Finland for a sufficient period before being granted citizenship.

It also means that any stay in Finland without a residence permit will not be counted “under any circumstances” towards the residency requirement.

“One of the objectives set in the Government Programme is to tighten the requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship and encourage immigrants to integrate into Finnish society. The reform will be implemented in stages through three legislative projects”, the Finnish Government added.

Additionally, factors such as the applicant’s age, state of health, or other similar reasons will no longer justify counting periods of residence without a permit.

The new legislation also addresses the situation of individuals who have received international protection in Finland.

While these beneficiaries will be subject to the same eight-year residency requirement, their citizenship applications will continue to be processed urgently.

The government has committed to deciding on such applications within one year of submission, ensuring that those in vulnerable situations are not left in prolonged uncertainty.

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The government first proposed these amendments in a session on April 18, 2023. The main rationale behind the changes is to enable authorities to better assess the suitability of applicants for Finnish citizenship.

By extending the residency period and ensuring that only legal periods of residence are counted, the government aims to uphold the integrity of the citizenship process and ensure that new citizens are well-integrated into Finnish society.

Recall in 2023, Finland granted citizenship to 12,224 foreign nationals, according to Statistics Finland. This marked an increase of 2,026 from the previous year.

The largest group of new citizens came from Russia, accounting for six per cent of the total.

Additionally, the number of dual citizens in Finland reached 172,000 by the end of 2023, highlighting the country’s diverse and multicultural population.