In 2004 Caterina Flake co-founded Flickr in the U.S. and only 5 years later people had shared about 5 billion photos through the channel. In 2020 Flake wanted to move to Finland with her daughter. However, moving to Finland turned out to be an administrative obstacle. In my opinion it shouldn’t be as we would benefit from attracting people like her.
In some cases, Finland is incredibly difficult place to get in to, as Flake told in Yle’s programme A-studio earlier in October. For her it took three face-to-face appointments at Finnish Migri and several months of waiting before a temporary residency permit was granted. The expert permit she originally applied for was still not granted, because she didn’t have a Finnish employer. Additionally, this made it hard for her to get a residency permit for her daughter.
Even if one managed to get a visa in relatively decent manners, practical life in Finland requires several more steps such as visiting the police, a bank, registry office etc. All these processes are complex, because in practice one cannot get a strong identification before establishing a bank relationship. Yet, to establish a bank relationship one often needs an official address, which on the other hand requires the strong identification.
These processes have understandable roots in fragmented administration and a very precise interpretation of equality for all applicants. However, this kind of complexity is unacceptable given that ability to attract best talents globally is becoming one of the most decisive challenges for success and welfare of Finland.
Fires, Covid and social unrest is shaking California. We cannot know for sure how many people will move permanently from Silicon Valley or from the UK because of Brexit, but at least some thousands will. And there will be significant international talents and investors within that group. Time to attract a part of them to move Finland is now! We are experiencing a “Moment of opportunity” as Flake said in the Finnish television in October, even after her hard experience about the process.
We, The National Coalition Party, published recently our idea of expansionary migration strategy: https://www.kokoomus.fi/kokoomuksen-keinot-kansainvalisen-rekrytoinnin-lisaamiseksi-nyt-on-aika-houkutella-osaajat-suomeen/ .
Below are some of the key points:
- We need to make migration processes fast and digital for experts recruited to Finland. Residence permits must be granted in two weeks from initial application. We also need to validate reliable employers who recruit frequently from abroad so that their experts can enter a lighter and faster track than others.
- We need to integrate a larger share of foreign students to stay in Finland. We should grant a permanent residence for a student graduating from a Finnish university and a right to deduct university fees in the Finnish income taxation if staying in Finland to work.
- We need to define a decent process to apply for a residency permit for significant investors and talents who want to work for foreign employers from Finland. Currently one need a Finnish employer to obtain an expert permit. However, there are people who want to move to Finland and work remotely for U.S. or other foreign corporations. I admit that we cannot grant permits based on any work for any foreign employer because it could create a massive misuse. However, we could possibly frame this process with a certain minimum wage required, for example 5000 euros per month, in the same way as we already do with the requirements to get into the expert fast track. Similar requirements could be built for business investors as well.
Finally, we need to make life in Finland easier and not to force people to learn proper Finnish in the beginning. More international schools are needed. Generally, we need to ensure that international recruiting becomes a key policy tool to create welfare for Finland – also for the Finns already living here.
That is why we should also organize administrative tasks of job-related migration differently in the government. Instead of splitting responsibilities between three ministries and three government agencies, which is the current way of doing, we should build an Agency for International Recruiting. It should combine current work and study related processes of Migri, the Foreign Ministry and the Employment Agencies. The new Agency for International Recruiting should have a clear goal of doubling international recruitments to Finland, including a proper marketing strategy in the key hotspot countries.
Chair of the Parliamentary Group of the National Coalition Party