Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Finnish Immigration Service
Ministry of Employment and the Economy
Finland will introduce biometric residence permit cards at the beginning of 2012. They will replace the residence permit stickers for travel documents.
The amendments to the Aliens Act will enter into force on 1 January 2012, when the granting of biometric residence permit cards will begin. Because of technical delays in the introduction of fingerprint scanning, fingerprints will be stored on card chips gradually. If technical problems prevent the scanning of a residence permit applicant’s fingerprints, the fact will be recorded on the residence permit card chip.
Nevertheless, the card remains a fully valid proof of the right of residence until its date of expiry.
In practice the reform means that all residence permit applicants and asylum seekers who are older than 6 years will have prints taken of all their fingers to be recorded in the Register of Aliens. Fingerprints will be taken again when applying for permit extensions and permanent residence permits, and a new card will be issued each time.
Biometric identifiers stored on the residence permit card chip include a facial image and two fingerprints. The residence permit card is not an official identity card.
Recording biometric identifiers on the residence permit will help to prevent malpractice by creating a more reliable connection between the residence permit holder and the permit itself. The changes are based on an EU Regulation issued in 2008.
The amendments to the Aliens Act mean that from the beginning of 2012 residence permit applications must be submitted in person. A family member resident in Finland (sponsor) or an employer will no longer be able to submit an application on behalf of the applicant.
In addition, the work permit unit of the Employment and Economic Development Office will be removed from among the offices where residence permit applications can be submitted, although the units will continue to play a part in the decision-making concerning employees’ residence permit applications.
As before, the first residence permit is to be applied for at a Finnish mission abroad. A residence permit card should be collected from the same place where the application was submitted.
After the New Year, applications for residence permit extensions and permanent residence permits can only be submitted at a Finnish police station. Similarly, if a residence permit card is lost or stolen, a new card can be applied for at the Finnish police. The police will also make decisions on all permit extensions and re-applications.
Persons with a valid residence permit sticker affixed to their passports will not need to change the sticker for a card. A residence permit card must nevertheless be applied for without delay as soon as the passport expires.
Persons who have submitted their residence permit applications in Finland before 1 January 2012, but who have not received the decision by the end of 2011, must visit the police station to have fingerprints taken to complement the application.
When the matter is taken up for processing the Finnish Immigration Service and the police will send their clients a letter requesting supplementary information. The letter gives instructions on when and to which police station applicants should go to complete their applications.
Applications submitted to Finnish missions abroad before 1 January 2012 need not to be supplemented even in the absence of a decision before the New Year. Fingerprints will be taken at the missions for applications submitted from the beginning of 2012 only. Persons applying for a residence permit while abroad may be granted a residence permit card without fingerprints until the end of the transition period, which expires on 20 May 2012.
However, a residence permit application submitted abroad may be supplemented by the applicant in case he or she visits the mission for an interview or some other reason.