Stricter requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship

Effective 1 October 2024, the period of residence required for Finnish citizenship will be extended from the current five years to eight years. In addition, only time lived in Finland under a residence permit will be taken into account when calculating the period of residence.

Government proposals for tightening the requirements related to integration and livelihood and introducing a citizenship test will be submitted to Parliament in autumn 2024 and spring 2025, respectively.

What is changing?

In future, the extension of the required period of residence will also concern beneficiaries of international protection.

In other words, once the amendment is in force, it will no longer be possible to derogate from the requirement on grounds of international protection. However, citizenship applications made by beneficiaries of international protection will be considered urgently, with the decision on granting citizenship made no later than one year after the applicant submitted their application.

Under this amendment, the residence requirement for children aged 15 or over, spouses of Finnish citizens, stateless persons and applicants meeting the language proficiency requirement will be extended to five years from the current four. The two-year residence requirement for Nordic citizens and spouses of persons working at Finnish missions abroad will remain unchanged.

Moreover, any stays in Finland without a residence permit will no longer be taken into account, in full or in part, under any circumstances when determining the period of residence. Similarly, the applicant’s age, state of health or other comparable reason will no longer be grounds for approving a period of residence without a residence permit.

Only periods of residence with a residence permit will be taken into account when determining an applicant’s period of residence. This means that the time taken to process an asylum application will no longer count towards the period of residence. For beneficiaries of international protection in Finland, the approved period of residence will begin when they are issued a residence permit.

The reform will also shorten the periods of absence that can be included in the continuous period of residence. During the entire continuous period of residence, the applicant may stay abroad for one year in total, and no more than three months of this period may take place during the year preceding naturalisation. The goal is to ensure that applicants receiving Finnish citizenship are actually living in Finland.

Impact of the changes

In 2023, altogether 11,594 people were granted citizenship based on an application. The extension of the residence requirement for citizenship will potentially apply to about 10,000 people each year.

Finnish immigration support

If you require support with a Finnish immigration or citizenship application, Smith Stone Walters can help. Our global immigration team is on hand to offer expert advice and support on relocating to Finland. To find out how we can help you reach your global mobility goals, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page