Ministry of the Interior requests comments on amendments to the Citizenship Act concerning period of residence
The Ministry of the Interior has requested comments on a draft version of amendments to the Citizenship Act concerning the period of residence. The public consultation will end on 4 March 2024. According to the proposed amendments, the period of residence required for Finnish citizenship would be extended from the current five years to eight years.
In line with the Government Programme, the Ministry of the Interior began drafting amendments to the Citizenship Act in October. The amendments seek to both tighten the requirements for acquiring Finnish citizenship and encourage immigrants to integrate into Finnish society. The legislative reform will be implemented in stages in three projects.
The government proposal which is now circulated for comments would implement the Government Programme's objectives concerning the period of residence required for naturalisation. According to the proposal, the period of residence requirement would be extended from the current five years to eight years.
The amendments would also concern beneficiaries of international protection. They would no longer have a derogation concerning the period of residence requirement.
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.
A child aged 15 or over, a spouse of a Finnish citizen and a stateless person would be required to have a period of residence of five years. Nordic citizens and spouses of those working in Finnish missions abroad would continue to be required to have a period of residence of two years.
Changes to determining the period of residence for asylum seekers
When determining any applicant's period of residence, only periods of residence with a residence permit would be included. Therefore, 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.
It is also proposed that the periods of absence which can be included in the continuous period of residence should be made shorter. During the entire continuous period of residence, the applicant 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. This amendment seeks to ensure that the applicant for Finnish citizenship is living in Finland when the decision on citizenship is made.