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Government submits proposal to Parliament on stricter requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 18.4.2024 13.48
Press release

The Government has proposed an amendment to the Citizenship Act that would extend the period of residence required for Finnish citizenship from the current five years to eight years. In addition, only time lived in Finland under a residence permit would be taken into account when calculating the period of residence. The proposal to amend the Citizenship Act was submitted to Parliament in a government session on 18 April.

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 first project will extend the required period of residence in Finland, which is one prerequisite for being granted citizenship based on an application. The second and third projects will tighten the requirements related to integrity and livelihood and introduce a citizenship test. The government proposals for the latter projects will be submitted to Parliament in autumn 2024 and spring 2025, respectively. 

In line with the proposal now submitted to Parliament, people applying for citizenship would have to reside in Finland for eight years instead of the current five years. This way, the authorities could assess the applicants’ suitability for citizenship over a longer period of time. 

The amendments would also concern applicants for international protection, who would no longer have a derogation concerning the period of residence requirement. 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 would continue to be considered urgently, with the decision on granting citizenship made no later than one year after the applicant submitted their application.

With the amendment, the residence requirement for children aged 15 or over, spouses of Finnish citizens, stateless persons and applicants meeting the language proficiency requirement would 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 would remain unchanged.

Changes in determining the period of residence for asylum seekers

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

In addition, any stays in Finland without a residence permit would 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 would no longer be grounds for approving a period of residence without a residence permit.

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

In 2022, altogether 9,509 people were granted citizenship based on an application. The extension of the residence requirement for citizenship would potentially apply to nearly 10,000 people each year.

Roope Jokinen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 362, [email protected] 
Hanna Pihkanen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 217, [email protected]

Orpon hallitusohjelma Turvallinen ja kriisinkestävä oikeusvaltio